The Taku River Tlingit First Nation (TRTFN) in Atlin, B.C, is asking all hunters to avoid hunting on their traditional territory this season.
On Monday, the First Nation released a statement saying the request was made in good faith, in an effort to “take serious action to protect vulnerable moose populations on their territories.”
Logan Law, a TRTFN citizen and hunter, said that she respects the request, however hunting is a traditional right and way of life for her family.
“Unfortunately, I still need food,” Law said. “My elders — I hunt for my aunties — They still need food.”
According to a population survey conducted by the B.C. government and released earlier this year, as of January 2022, there were only 17 bulls per 100 cows. The provincial minimum for low-density moose populations is 50 bulls per 100 cows.
The First Nation said that if something isn’t done now, they next year’s bull count could drop as low as 9 bulls per 100 cows.
“That’s really a bad number,” said Law.
“My grandma would talk about coming here and every time you’d drive down the road you’d see a moose. I haven’t seen a moose here in years, except for the ones we’ve killed when we’re really actively searching for one.”
The First Nation said it’s asking “all hunters from across the province” to reconsider their hunting plans. That includes its own citizens and local hunters.
Law said she feels those who live in Atlin should be exempt from the restriction.
“If anything, [for] the people who live here, it’s different,” she said. “The people coming from Whitehorse, or I heard of people coming from Fort Saint John, like all over it’s .. really we don’t have anything. We only have barely enough for our own.”
“So please don’t come because my way of life, we call it our Haa K̲usteeyix̲. My hunting. My elders’ food is threatened.
Law said she still plans to hunt, but she will look beyond Atlin this season out of respect for her First Nation’s wishes and for the moose.
“I don’t want to be the one that ends up ending it all,” Law joked.
Manu Keggenhoff also lives and hunts in the Atlin area.
Although she is not Indigenous herself, she, like Law, hunts for sustenance.
She told CBC News that she’s seen an increase in outside hunters coming to Atlin.
“It has been really insane over the past few years,” she said. “Other areas, especially in the North, but elsewhere in B.C., as well have been closed to open season hunting or are restricted. That left Atlin at a vulnerable place because everybody is coming up here.”
Keggenhoff calls the situation overwhelming and that is why she said she supports the First Nations request.
She said the provincial government needs to step in to do more to protect the moose population before there’s nothing left to hunt.
“I think we all have a responsibility,” she said. “First Nation, non-First Nation, everyone, in the end, to monitor this and I know that the B.C., decision to not close this area just came so shortly before hunting season started when [TRTFN] put that request in a long time ago.”
CBC News requested comment from B.C,’s ministry of Forests, but didn’t get a response before publication.