Fort St. John city councillors are responding to alleged threats made to the chief of the Blueberry River First Nation this week over planned cuts to the moose hunt in Northeast B.C.
“The City of Fort St. John strongly denounces racism in all forms. We were dismayed and saddened to hear the horrible remarks towards Blueberry River First Nation’s Chief Judy Desjarlais regarding the Province’s proposed hunting closures,” reads a statement from mayor Lori Ackerman released Friday.
Desjarlais says she received a threatening voicemail from an unknown number yesterday, in response to the province's proposal to slash moose hunting by 50% in the Peace Region and close caribou hunting indefinitely.
She says she takes the threat seriously and has reported the incident to police. Further details were expected to be released.
RCMP have not released any details about the incident, or responded to an inquiry from Alaska Highway News.
Desjarlais says her community has no agreement with the province over moose and caribou hunting regulations, but will remain at the table to negotiate.
“That was their own action, it had nothing to do with Blueberry, because we have not reached any agreement with the province, especially with the wildlife impact pertaining to the treaty rights litigation," said Desjarlais.
The government proposal will see the moose harvest for local resident hunters cut by as much as 50% in the Peace-Liard River region, and caribou hunting will be closed across the region for all licensed hunters.
According to the provincial government, the proposed changes will help Treaty 8 First Nations continue their way of life, and to address a BC Supreme Court ruling last year on the cumulative impacts of development of treaty rights in the region.
The hunting changes are expected to be an interim measure and one part of a broader package of actions specific to improving wildlife stewardship, upholding Treaty rights, habitat conservation, and the future of resource management.
Close to 6,000 residents and their families benefit from the hunt and more than $18 million is generated into the region’s economy, according to a statement issued by the B.C. Wildlife Federation.
The BCWF contends the allowable moose harvest could be cut to fewer than 650 animals, from a population that can support a sustainable annual harvest of 4,801 to 7,455 animals.
Ackerman's statement goes on to say that the city will continue to participate in conversations with the province, other local governments, and First Nations regarding treaty rights.
“During these conversations, we have been actively asking the Province to own their decisions and not to leave the potential for racism to be directed at our First Nations," she said.
A virtual roundtable with BC Liberal MLAs to discuss the proposed changes to hunting regulations will take place on March 30.
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