Municipal council clashes with MMF over Métis hunting zones

A municipal council in Southwestern Manitoba is asking the province to create designated hunting zones for Métis hunters.

RM of Pipestone says low moose population due to Métis over hunting

The RM of Pipestone council said the moose population between Elkhorn and Tilston, Man. has decreased by 70 to 80 moose since last winter's hunting season, MMF disputes the numbers. (CBC)

A municipal council in southwestern Manitoba is asking the province to create designated hunting zones for Métis hunters.

The request is based on nothing but imaginary numbers, according to the Manitoba Metis Federation.

The RM of Pipestone council said the moose population between Elkhorn and Tilston, Man. has decreased by 70 to 80 moose since last winter's hunting season, a large drop compared to previous years.

The reason, they claim, is Métis people are over-hunting.

"It is strongly felt by everyone concerned that if our provincial government doesn't take action, our big game will be greatly reduced, or with moose situation, decimated," a resolution from the council read.

Pipestone Reeve Archie McPherson said the council got the number of moose killed from a provincial conservation office in Virden.

The council also relied on anecdotes from local farmers and hunters.

"Several [Métis hunters] were stopped by game wardens during and after hunting season," McPherson said.

"They've been spoken to by several residents and farmers. I've spoken to several of them myself when I'm out and about."

McPherson said he's heard stories of hunters with two moose in the back of their truck stopping at gas stations, identifying themselves as Métis, then saying that's why they could hunt more moose or hunt off season.

Moose data unreliable: MMF

Those anecdotes are more like fairy tales, according to David Chartrand, president of the Manitoba Metis Federation (MMF).

"His numbers are definitely not founded," Chartrand said.

"He's just making them up as he goes. First of all, if a Métis harvester is out there and he has two moose in the back of his truck, he's breaking Métis laws."

Chartrand said the MMF called the Virden conservation office and the province to check the number of moose killed in a year. Neither group could corroborate the council's claim of 70 to 80.

"The province advised us there's no record of anything," Chartrand said. "They just don't have the resources nor the manpower to keep that."

Métis hunting rules, written in The Metis Laws of the Harvest, are acknowledged by the province, meaning anyone who breaks them is subject to consequences.

"If any Métis harvester is not abiding by Métis laws, the conservation officers have the right to charge this individual and revoke the person's Métis harvesting card, which then deprives him of protection as a collector to be harvesting," Chartrand said.

RM council wants Métis hunting zones

McPherson said he and the RM of Pipestone's council would be willing to work with the province and the MMF to find a solution that could benefit everyone.

The idea of designated zones for Métis hunters, however, has gotten a lot of support from locals.

"The support for the resolution has been overwhelmingly positive," McPherson said.

"You're always going to get the odd negative comment, but we've tried to have no indication or no intention to have anything to do with picking out or identifying a particular group of people. It's strictly trying to maintain or sustain a healthy moose and deer population."

Chartrand said he thinks there's a problem with moose hunting across the province and with all hunters.

The Metis Laws of the Harvest underline conservation as a top priority and Chartrand said singling out Métis people for over hunting is just another example of Métis rights facing discriminatory obstacles.

"It's a constant battle for Métis people," Chartrand said.

"People think they can just overpower us and say, 'We're going to go to the province and we're going to tell them to take away your rights.' It doesn't happen that way."

McPherson and the rest of the council will take the request to an Association of Manitoba Municipalities meeting on Wednesday.

Chartrand said if the council continues to single out Métis people, the MMF will take legal action.