The Manitoba Wildlife Federation was outraged to learn yesterday that the Manitoba Metis Federation (MMF) is allocating tags to Metis moose harvesters in game hunting areas currently under conservation closures – The Porcupine and Duck Mountains. The Manitoba government closed these areas to ALL hunters (licensed, Metis and First Nations) in response to survey data showing as serious decline of moose numbers to a level that if not protected, there is risk that they may not recover. The Manitoba Wildlife Federation was in full support of these closures and will continue to abide by these provincial laws, until moose populations can support a harvest, and ALL user groups can share in that harvest.
According to the Supreme Court, the Province has jurisdiction over population management and is the sole authority that can allow harvest in these closure areas. MMF has no legal authority to reopen hunting in closure areas. MMF has essentially instructed Metis harvesters to ILLEGALLY hunt moose and potentially jeopardize the status of an extremely vulnerable moose population. In a recent CBC interview, David Chartrand, President of MMF, states “Indigenous peoples rights to harvest for culture and food have constitutional priority over recreation hunters.” Manitoba Wildlife Federation respects rights granted to Metis and First Nation harvesters, however we take exception to this statement as we feel the protection and conservation of vulnerable wildlife takes priority, and ALL user groups need to abide by ONE management strategy to ensure sustainable wildlife populations. Wildlife in Manitoba belongs to Manitoban’s and the responsibility lies on all of us to protect it.
As far as being termed “recreational hunters”, whether we are licensed, Metis or First Nations hunters, we are all in the same boat – we hunt to fill our freezers and support our families. In fact, most of MWF members are third, fourth and fifth generation hunters and gatherers. Hunting is a part of our history as Manitoban’s, which is why MWF members have taken great offence to this term. MWF will continue to be law abiding citizens and work collaboratively with all user groups and the province to develop a shared management plan. It has been proven through numerous case studies that species in decline can be restored when there is cooperation with government and all invested user groups.
We certainly hope that the Metis Federation will give second thought to this course of action. If they proceed with allocating moose tags to Metis harvesters in these closure areas, the Manitoba Wildlife Federation will stand up for the moose and will advocate the Province to prosecute anyone that breaks the conservation closure laws. This applies to licensed and rights-based harvesters alike.
In the News:
Chiefs Join Fight Over Moose Hunting – Winnipeg Free Press
SCO Supports Moose Harvest Plan – Brandon Sun