bc-090923-moose

The Tsilhqot'in First Nation says the moose habitat in an area called "Big Meadow" is limited and fragmented due to logging and the effects of the mountain pine beetle. ((Submitted by Dixie Boyd))

Members of the Tsilhqot'in First Nation have set up a blockade to stop logging southwest of Williams Lake, saying they're worried about declining moose populations in the Chilcotin.

Chief Joe Alphonse, chair of the Tsilhqot'in government, says an area known as the "Big Meadow" was once an ideal moose habitat covered with lush forests of pine.

Now, the land has grown bare and the habitat has become fragmented due to the effects of mountain pine beetle infestation, and also due to logging.

"You fly over that area and there are not much trees left... there's just little pockets here and there where moose can hide," Alphonse said. "And you can potentially have ten hunting camps around every pile of bush left out in the Chilcotin, and that's no way of preserving animals."

Recent estimates by the province putg the moose population decline at 20 to 60 per cent throughout the Cariboo-Chilcotin region.

The B.C. government says it's working with the Tsilhqot'in on implementing a number of conservation initiatives including updating hunting policies, revising the design of logging cutblocks and deactivating unused forestry roads.

With files from the CBC's Marissa Harvey