The Manitoba Metis Federation is reopening some Manitoba regions to Métis moose harvesters, after a nine-year hiatus due to concerns about moose populations.
Métis harvesters will be allowed to return to limited hunting of bull moose in the Porcupine Mountain and Duck Mountain areas in western Manitoba starting Oct. 1, the federation said in a news release Tuesday. Cows, calves and yearlings will still be off-limits in those areas, officially known as Game Hunting Areas 13, 13A , 18, 18A, 18B and 18C.
The federation will issue a limited number of tags to groups no smaller than four, permitting each group to harvest one moose each, MMF president David Chartrand said in a video address Tuesday.
A total of 24 tags will be issued in the area — 16 in the Duck Mountain area and eight in the Porcupine Mountain area — for a maximum harvest of 24 bull moose in the region.
“Conservation will always be a fundamental principle of our harvesting laws,” Chartrand said in the video address online.
The Nopiming area, beginning at the Ontario border just north of Whiteshell Provincial Park and stretching as far east as Traverse Bay, will be fully reopened to Métis harvesters, the federation said. The northernmost part of that area, also called Game Hunting Area 26, is at Manigotagan.
The areas have been closed to Métis harvesters since 2011, when the federation halted hunting as a precautionary measure following consultation with elders. On Tuesday, the federation said populations have grown since then.
“The Métis government and the Metis Laws of the Harvest place a priority on conservation-minded harvesting. The MMF is seeking a cooperative approach with the province of Manitoba in these conservation efforts,” federation president David Chartrand said in the release.
“We are now into the ninth year of closures and it is time for the harvest to continue in a monitored, responsible, collective manner. Indigenous peoples’ rights to harvest for culture and food have constitutional priority over recreation hunters.”
Other regions, including the Turtle Mountain area, will remain closed to Métis hunters, the federation says, pending further investigation by the federation.
Métis federation criticizes province
The Métis federation’s rules only apply to Métis hunters, not First Nations hunters who have Indian status or non-Indigenous hunters.
The hunting, fishing and trapping rights of Métis people and First Nations people with Indian status are constitutionally protected in Canada, including in Manitoba.
The province of Manitoba does not currently allow hunting by licensed, non-Indigenous hunters in those areas and some others nearby, due to low moose population.
On Tuesday, the MMF criticized the provincial government for failing to work with Métis government on moose hunting in the province.
“For nearly a decade, the province of Manitoba has been announcing moose closures and talking about a moose management plan, but never meaningfully engaged and consulted the Métis Government on the closures and plans,” said Leah LaPlante, MMF minister of natural resources.
In its 2020 Manitoba Hunting Guide, the province acknowledged the constitutionally protected rights of Métis hunters and committed to “continue to work with Métis communities to legally recognize these rights.”
CBC News has requested further comment from the province.
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