British Columbia

​?Esdilagh First Nation partners with conservation officers to enforce ban on moose hunting

First nation says moose populations have been declining over the decades, hit hard by 2017 wildfires.

Nation says moose population has been declining over the decades and was hit hard by 2017 wildfires

?Esdilagh representatives have been critical of the B.C. government for not taking action against the decline of the moose population. (Getty Images/EyeEm)

A B.C. First Nation has partnered with the B.C. Conservation Officer Service to enforce restrictions on moose hunting.

Last fall, the ?Esdilagh First Nation declared a ban on moose hunting in its traditional territory, citing a decades-long population decline and fears that B.C.'s 2017 wildfire season drove moose numbers down even further.

?Esdilagh representatives have been critical of the B.C. government for not taking action against the regional population decline.

The factors that have affected the population are principally "forest fires, climate change and most likely timber harvesting and habitat loss, and hunting pressure," according to Chad Stump, a ?Esdilagh band manager.

'Our people have spoken'

The nation has now signed a memorandum of understanding with the conservation officer service aimed at preserving the population in its traditional lands, which lie between Quesnel and Williams Lake, B.C.

Conservation officers will now be able to enforce the community's restriction that prohibits the harvesting of cow moose for ?Esdilagh First Nation membership inside their traditional territory.

"There is going to be a penalty," said Stump, adding that it's yet to be decided what the penalties will be.

"Our people have spoken and they want us to go through with this."

Population estimates completed in January 2017 show that moose are continue to decline by approximately 30 per cent in the Cariboo region.

"We hope our fellow nations and neighbouring nations will read up and hopefully follow suit," Stump said.

With files from CBC's Daybreak Kamloops