According to an article and video produced by the Vancouver Observer and circulated by the Tsilhqot’in National Government Friday, the Nation said it does not support trophy hunting for grizzlies in their traditional territory.
In a video interview, Xeni Gwet’in Chief Roger William said he was surprised by the government’s decision to open up grizzly hunts in the Chilcotin and that they have many concerns surrounding the decision.
“In our culture (the grizzly hunt) just doesn’t make sense. They live on the land with us … so now you open up for a grizzly hunt — that’s a big concern. We don’t feel that the government has really made an informed decision.”
A Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations spokesperson said Monday the Cariboo hunt was re-opened because grizzly population information and trends indicated that a limited hunt was sustainable. For 2015, grizzly hunting limited entry hunting allocations were increased from three to nine.
“The principles behind the ministry’s decisions are: a scientifically informed population estimate; estimates of sustainable human-caused mortality rates; and deliberately conservative mortality limits, “ Greig Bethel said. “Ministry biologists determine the number of authorizations to be issued based on five-year allowable annual harvest, and success rates.”
However, Bethel noted as a result of the Supreme Court of Canada Decision, Tsilhqot’in Title Lands are not publicly available for hunting, angling or trapping at this time.
“The Tsilhqot’in National Government and Xeni Gwet’in have provided conditional consent for registered guides to carry out hunting on Aboriginal Title Land for the 2015 season,” Bethel said emphasizing the Tsilhqot’in Title Lands are not within the management units that were re-opened for an LEH grizzly bear hunt in 2014.
William said the Tsilhqot’in consider the grizzly sacred and will only kill a grizzly for ceremonial or safety purposes, and in that case they will eat the meat.
Bethel said consultation with the Tsilhqot’in was conducted on all proposed 2014 Cariboo Region hunting regulations including the grizzly bear hunt.
“First Nations food, social, and ceremonial rights are provided for prior to any issuance of opportunities for either resident hunters or guide outfitters,” Bethel noted, adding for area management zone 5-05, one grizzly hunt authorization was issued and for area 5-06, two authorizations were issued, however, no grizzly bears were harvested in either unit.
Grizzly bear hunting in the southwest Chilcotin is being managed conservatively, Bethel said.
“If hunting or other grizzly mortality exceeds acceptable mortality limits, the hunt can be reduced or even completely closed.”