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:
editor@wltribune.com

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

Illegal fishing, snowmobiling caught in Caribou-protected areas of northern B.C.

Closures are to support the recovery of caribou herds: BC Conservation Officer Service

Bailey’s celebrating 100 years of farming in B.C.

Vanderhoof farm received the Century Farm Award awarded by the Ministry of Agriculture.

Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs call for end of police patrols

Temporary closure of field office not enough to meet demands

Alice in Wonderland Jr. coming to Vanderhoof this March

W.L. McLeod Elementary presents its 12th production

Mainly sunny Saturday, but cloudy weather in the forecast

Environment Canada weather report for the week of Feb. 24

Protecting privacy key to stopping spread of COVID-19, B.C. health officials say

The number of coronavirus cases in B.C. remains at seven

Toffoli scores OT winner as Canucks beat Habs 4-3

Demko makes 37 saves for Vancouver

Private clinics would harm ‘ordinary’ people using public system in B.C.: lawyer

Health Minister Adrian Dix announced in 2018 that the government would begin to fine doctors $10,000

B.C. terminates contract with hospice society refusing assisted death

Delta Hospice Society loses hospital service fund of $1.5 million

Child in hospital following fatal crash that killed father, sibling on B.C. highway

The single vehicle crash occured near Kamloops on Highway 5A

‘Die!’: Vernon councillor mailed death threat

This story contains information that might be sensitive to some readers

Hidden message connects Castlegar homeowners decades apart

The Rodgers family was surprised when a message fell out of the walls as they were renovating

Two B.C. men plead guilty to bus-terminal assault of man with autism in Ontario

Parmvir Chahil and Jaspaul Uppal due to be sentenced in June for aggravated assault

Most Read