Conservation officer Chris Ford investigates a cow moose poaching complaint on traditional ʔEsdilagh territory at Alexandria last winter that has since resulted in charges. (Photo submitted)

First Nations community supports charges in Cariboo region cow moose poaching case

Conservation Officer Service and ʔEsdilagh First Nation agreement targets illegal hunting

Three Indigenous men are facing charges under the Wildlife Act for allegedly poaching a cow moose on traditional ?Esdilagh territory, between Williams Lake and Quesnel, last winter.

Quesnel conservation officer Chris Ford confirmed the men, whose names have not been released, have just been charged with hunting out of season, unlawful possession of wildlife and failure to remove all edible portions.

The charges relate to an incident that occurred on the West Fraser Road Feb. 9 2019 when witnesses allege to have “caught the men in the act” of harvesting the cow moose on traditional ?Esdilagh territory and confronted them, taking their vehicle description and licence plate number, Ford said. The suspects left the area before officers arrived, however, a full investigation has led to the current charges, he noted.

The investigation is the first case resulting in charges against Indigenous persons for hunting on ?Esdilagh traditional lands and is only possible because the ?Esdilagh First Nation and the British Columbia Conservation Officer Service (COS) have a memorandum of understanding (MOU) designed to protect the vulnerable and declining species.

Ford said the relationship between the ?Esdilagh First Nation and the COS is based on a mutual recognition, respect and benefits the moose population in their traditional territory. The men charged in the cow moose case are Indigenous, but not from the ?Esdilagh First Nation.

On June 15, 2018, the two parties signed the agreement which gives the COS the power to charge Indigenous offenders, who otherwise have constitutionally protected rights to hunt, fish and trap in a number of circumstances. First Nations are also exempted from the application of the provincial Wildlife Act in certain circumstances.

At the time Chief Roy Stump said his community members were foregoing their own legal right to hunt moose in an effort to save the troubled population and also pressure the government to ban the fall hunt due to population concerns relating to the 2017 wildfires.

Read more:?Esdilagh First Nation bans moose hunt in its traditional territory

Stump said the MOU was needed to protect the moose, whose numbers are dwindling.

The agreement gives the COS the ability to take punitive action under the provincial Wildlife Act. Two other First Nation communities in the Cariboo Chilcotin also have similar agreements with the COS as they try to protect cow moose.

Ford said in this case, the cow moose harvested was about three months pregnant, and the chief and council wanted the COS to proceed with charges.

“This poaching incident is an excellent example of how we can work together to protect wildlife,” Ford said. “This is exactly why we have a MOU, is to protect the cow moose.”

The COS currently also has MOUs with Xeni Gwet’in First Nation and Stswecem’c Xgat’tem (Canoe Creek) First Nation. Ford said the COS is working with two other First Nation governments to develop MOUs with the primary purpose of addressing the illegal harvest of cow moose and hunting practices posing a risk to public safety.

Ford noted in the winter months cow moose are particularly vulnerable as they tend to prefer travelling on roads to avoid deep snow and are easily seen and accessed.

He encourages anyone who witnesses the illegal poaching of wildlife to report it to the RAPP line at 1-877-952-7277 for investigation.

Read more: Cariboo First Nation signs landmark moose hunt agreement with Conservation Officer Service


Do you have a comment about this story? email:
[email protected]

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

– With files from the Quesnel Observer

hunting

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

New MP Taylor Bachrach makes his first trip to Bella Coola

Bachrach said he is keen to get to know his riding and the members of his constituency

Bachrach rejects calls for police action against demonstrators

Skeena-Bulkley Valley MP says only way out of crisis is “true nation-to-nation” talks

Nuxalk Nation celebrates first carpentry graduates

11 students graduated from the community’s first carpentry program

Bella Coola leave their mark on All Native Basketball Tournament as they reach Intermediate final

Nuxalk Braves bring home a strong second place finish; three individual awards for Marlon Edgar-Apps

All Native Basketball: Finals matchups start to take shape as title games approach

Two Prince Rupert sides in contention, while two dynasties are on the brink

VIDEO: 2020 BC Winter Games wrap up in Fort St. John as torch passes to Maple Ridge

More than 1,000 athletes competed in the 2020 BC Winter Games

CRA puts focus on paper returns as tax-filing season opens

The federal tax collector expects to handle about two million paper returns this calendar year out of roughly 26 million filings

StatCan says 3.2 million living in poverty, including 566,000 children

The child poverty rate of 8.2 per cent however is little changed from 2017

Teck withdraws application for Frontier mine, citing discourse over climate change

The Vancouver-based company said it will take a $1.13-billion writedown on the Frontier project in Alberta

B.C. VIEWS: Pipeline dispute highlights need for clarity

As the B.C. treaty process grinds on, uncertainty remains

‘A long way to go’: UNBC hosts Moose Hide Campaign gathering on Feb. 24

The event is a part of a movement to stand up against violence inflicted on women and children

Still six cases of COVID-19 in B.C. despite reports of Air Canada passenger: ministry

Health ministry wouldn’t comment on specific flight routes

Violent ends to past Indigenous protests haunt Trudeau government

Trudeau adopted a more assertive tone Friday, insisting the barricade must come down

Most Read