British Columbia Wildlife Federation

For Immediate Release: March 10, 2022

UPDATE: Moose harvest for BC hunters slashed as a result of a court ruling that cites cumulative impacts of industrial activity impacting treaty rights.

A government proposal will see the moose harvest for local resident hunters cut by as much as 50 per cent in the Peace-Liard River region of northeastern BC.  Caribou hunting will be closed across the region for all licenced hunters.

The Government of British Columbia has negotiated a deal that will see 195 forestry, oil and gas projects proceed in the traditional territory of the Blueberry River First Nation. Another 20 industrial projects in Blueberry territory are still up for negotiation, according to the Ministry of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation.

The government has abandoned decades of science-based wildlife management, according to B.C. Wildlife Federation executive director Jesse Zeman. This is not a sustainability issue. The proposed agreement will severely curtail moose hunting for British Columbians in areas with the highest moose densities in B.C. while negotiations on permitting for industrial activities continue.

Sustainable Caribou and Moose hunting in the Peace-Liard currently supports 5,957 resident hunters and their families, who spend a combined 56,000 days enjoying Supernatural B.C. These every day British Columbians also put more than $18.4 million in hunting related expenditures.

Among the expected impacts of the deal:

  • The number of BC residents allowed to harvest moose for food in the region reduced by 70 to 80 percent.
  • A loss of more than $14-16 million in hunting-related economic activity from resident hunters.
  • The allowable harvest of moose reduced to fewer than 650 animals, from a population that can support a sustainable annual harvest of 4801 to 7455 animals.

“Ordinary British Columbians who hunt for food are being traded-off in favour of resource extraction,” said Zeman. “The BCWF is concerned that this is the tip of the iceberg and that these kinds of deals are coming to parks, campsites, streams and lakes in British Columbia.  After two years of this pandemic the province should be encouraging British Columbians to get outside and enjoy nature; instead it’s telling them they’re not welcome in the Peace and they should stay at home.  The government’s approach puts science, fish, wildlife and habitat, as well as the mental and physical wellbeing of present and future generations of British Columbians last.”

The settlement was mandated by the court to address a very specific issue.

The Supreme Court of British Columbia ruled late last year that the Blueberry River First Nation’s treaty rights to hunt, trap and fish in their territory have been breached “by allowing industrial development in Blueberry’s territory at an extensive scale.”

According to the court’s ruling, “the cumulative effects from a range of provincially authorized activities, projects and developments (associated with oil and gas, forestry, mining, hydroelectric infrastructure, agricultural clearing and other activities) within and adjacent to their traditional territory that has resulted in significant adverse impacts on the meaningful exercise of their treaty rights, and that amount to a breach of the Treaty.”

“The BCWF has similar concerns as outlined in Blueberry’s case against BC, and in fact, declined to testify on behalf of the Province. For years both Treaty 8 Nations and the BCWF have pushed the provincial government to focus on wildlife management and habitat restoration in the region,” said Zeman. “This proposal does nothing to address the impacts of industrial activities nor does it provide support for on-the-ground actions that benefit wildlife and habitat in Treaty 8 territory.  Successive governments have had more than a decade to respond to the concerns of Treaty 8 nations and stakeholders, but didn’t.  Our government is trading away the rights of British Columbians in order to continue unsustainable industrial resource extraction instead of working with First Nations, local governments, industry, stakeholders and the public on solutions that work for wildlife and all involved.”

The BC Wildlife Federation fully supports the rights of First Nations to hunt and fish in their traditional territories for food, social and ceremonial purposes and our commitment to conservation and habitat restoration is shared between First Nations and non-First Nations.

What Can You Do?

Please remember that the issue here is the response of the BC government.

The BC government is prioritizing resource extraction over resident hunters and outdoor recreation with no science-based rationale for the conservation of wildlife in the Peace Region. The BCWF supported Treaty 8 First Nations in taking legal action against industrial development infringing on their treaty rights and agreed with the decision of the court case.

Login to the AHTE website and voice your concerns in the public consultation.

Use your BCeID to submit Angling, Hunting, and Trapping Engagement.

The other best course of action that you can take right now is to use the tool below to send a letter directly to your Member of Legislative Assembly and let them know that you disagree with their decision to negotiate closures and reduce hunting opportunities for licensed hunters in the Peace Region.

Log into the BCWF Website to Send a letter to your MLA .