The Manitoba Wildlife Federation would like to address the recent proposal submitted by Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak, Inc. (MKO) urging the province to exclude non-indigenous hunters from the opportunity to hunt in Northern Manitoba.
MKO has requested that Manitoba take rights seriously and accord a top priority to the rights of MKO First Nation persons to hunt for food by:
1. Cancelling any license that may have been issued by Manitoba to non-Indigenous persons to
hunt moose in any area affected by the Moose Conservation Closure Regulation 122/2011.
2. Immediately cancelling the moose lottery within the MKO region and to cancel any license that may have been issued to a non-Indigenous person in the areas affected by the lottery; and
MKO further requests that Manitoba:
3. Cancel any license for non-Indigenous persons to hunt moose within the MKO region issued to outfitters and guides pursuant to the Allocation of Hunting Licenses Regulation, and
4. Immediately engage the MKO First Nations and MKO to establish an ongoing process to accord the top priority and to inform the MKO First Nations and Manitoba whether the outstanding food requirements of the MKO First Nations are met on a First Nation by First Nation basis.
The new draw system for identified GHA’s in Northern Manitoba has not restricted hunting opportunities for First Nation or licensed hunters in those areas, it was merely set to get a better understanding of the number of hunters seeking moose in each of the GHA’s. The more data that is collected in these areas, the more educated the government will be on how many moose are required by surrounding First Nation Communities, and how to manage licensed tags to ensure populations are sustainable for all Manitobans. The MWF has long maintained that both licensed and rights-based harvesters should be providing as much harvest data as possible to assist the province on making these important decisions. Aside from the identified closure areas where moose populations are too low to sustain harvest, Indigenous hunters have rights to harvest for sustenance at any time of the year. The MWF agrees that First Nations and Metis have constitutionally protected rights to harvest for food. In circumstances where overall harvest must be reduced to achieve conservation objectives, the MWF has long supported shared management solutions that provide priority to indigenous harvest with more limited opportunities for licensed hunters. This proposal put forward by MKO however, is not a shared management approach.
On behalf of licensed hunters, we would like to remind Manitobans that in 2009, all Manitoba political parties agreed to recognize the rights of licensed hunters in The Hunting, Fishing and Trapping Heritage Act. As well, our current Premier committed to the MWF that the government would advance Shared Management and engage all stakeholders – Indigenous and non-Indigenous towards fair and sustainable harvesting practices for big game populations. We hold these commitments to the highest regard. Hunting is a multi-generational tradition for many licensed hunters with sustenance also being the primary reason licensed hunter’s hunt. Licensed hunters have also been stewards of our land and our resources for generations, contributing financially to conservation, research and management through taxes and license costs. This money flows to our essential wildlife, fish, and enforcement departments and to fund local projects that protect our resources, enhance habitat, and develop educational programs that encompass hunting recruitment and retention, to ensure conservation stewardship and safe hunting practices are passed onto future generations. Licensed hunter contributions in the province play a vital role in the protection and sustainability of our wild game resources. Our rights as licensed hunters and Manitoba residents must also be defended by elected public officials.
Shared management is the last chance for the existence of moose in Manitoba. We need a plan that will give our moose population the best chance of survival, long-term sustainability, and give all Manitobans the opportunity to cherish and benefit from this species for years to come.
Click here to read MWF’s Response letter to government.