The president of the Tahltan Central Government (TCG) is looking forward to the conclusion of B.C’s hunting season following outbursts of racism amid a travel advisory and increasing fears a potentially deadly virus could be transported to one of their remote communities by hunters who have ripped out fences, stolen cameras and removed concrete barriers.
“It has been disheartening,” Chad Norman Day said of the behavior witnessed recently, not only on the ground but also online.
“I feel that it’s deeply disrespectful to be seeing not only so many resident hunters coming into Tahltan territory when they are aware that we have the travel ban in place but there’s been multiple examples now where they have cost us thousands of dollars in damage by bending and breaking, and removing the gates that we’ve put up in place to deter them from entering certain access points near the communities.”
BC RCMP could not be reached for immediate comment.
As the Tahltan braced for an influx of big game hunters coming into their isolated territory in northwestern B.C., TCG ramped up efforts to keep them out amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Just days prior to the official start of the 2020 hunting season Tahltan wildlife guaridans installed gates and concrete barriers north of Bob Quinn along Highway 37 in hunting regions 6-19 and 6-26.
In an e-mail, the BCWF did not address the alleged behavior of hunters but said BCWF supports First Nation rights to restrict access to First Nation communities and reserves.
“The BCWF recognizes the risks associated with COVID-19 and all reasonable attempts, supported by the Provincial Health Officer and Health Authorities, to keep everyone in British Columbia safe and acknowledges the value in allowing British Columbians to recreate safely in their province,” wrote Jesse Zeman, BCWF director fish and wildlife restoration.
For Day the need for the access checkpoints has been further validated by positive COVID-19 cases identified recently in Witset (Moricetown) and Nak’azdli near Fort St. James.
“My heart goes out to all of the communities, Indigenous and non-Indigenous particularly in the north who are dealing with COVID-19,” he said.
“This is why the Tahltan Nation did this.”
Non-resident hunting this year has not only been restricted by Tahltan Nation.
The Taku River Tlingit First Nation (TRTFN) in Atlin set up an information checkstop on Highway 7 in late August.
“TRTFN will assert its authority to take measures as necessary to protect the land and its people,” said heritage co-ordinator Ben Louter.
“Non-essential travel for hunting purposes to TRTFN traditional territory put this community at risk and jeopardizes food security.”
A spokesperson with B.C’s Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development said travelling to hunt is considered recreational, and therefore is non-essential.