Manitoba Métis Federation's ban on spotlighting comes into force

A Manitoba Métis Federation ban on spotlighting is now in effect and will prohibit its own people from using the controversial hunting technique.

Night hunting will still be allowed in some northern remote areas away from communities

The Manitoba Métis Federation has banned spotlighting. (Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)

A Manitoba Métis Federation ban on spotlighting is now in place and will prohibit its own people from using the controversial hunting technique.

The self-governing political organization said Wednesday its new night hunting laws for Métis citizens had come into effect.

President David Chartrand touted the new rules as being stronger than Manitoba's current law.

"Our laws are definitely more stricter and more accountable," he said Wednesday in a phone interview from Vancouver where he was waiting to board a flight.

Manitoba Métis Federation President David Chartrand said if MMF members are caught spotlighting, they will be held accountable. (Jeff Stapleton/CBC)

Spotlighting is when hunters shine a bright artificial light into the eyes of an animal to get them to stop moving. It lets hunters kill animals more easily.

Manitoba Métis Federation members voted to ban the practice in September of 2017, but the policy didn't come into force until Wednesday.

Night hunting is currently illegal in Manitoba, but there is an exception for "an aboriginal person" who is allowed to hunt at night while holding the proper permit in an area deemed acceptable.

"Just because we have the right doesn't mean we abuse it," said Chartrand, who told CBC the majority of MMF members wanted the practice banned.

"People were using night light to hunt for food and it became something somewhat dangerous … and people could be seriously hurt and our children were afraid to play outside of their homes."

Spotlighting is a practice that sees hunters shine a powerful and focused artificial light into the eyes of animals such as moose, elk and deer, causing the prey to stop moving and therefore making it easier for them to be killed. (Sean Kilpatrick/Canadian Press)

The MMF president said Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister and his ministers refused to meet with his organization to work together on the matter. "They would not go down that road with us. So we just said enough waiting we're going to do it ourselves."

When asked to respond to Chartrand's claim, Minister of Sustainable Development Rochelle Squires' spokesperson Olivia Billson said the government engaged in an "extensive consultation process" when it introduced Bill 29, the Wildlife Amendment Act, last spring.

"Indigenous communities have been and will be continuously involved in the process," Billson wrote in an email to CBC News.

Billson didn't directly refute Chartrand's assertion that the MMF's rules are stricter than the province's, but said the safety of Manitobans is the government's top priority.

"We believe that Bill 29 strengthens public safety while balancing the rights of Indigenous peoples with wildlife management and sustainability."

MMF has its own tribunal

Chartrand said night lighting will still be allowed to take place in some northern remote areas that are far away from communities.

He said if an MMF member broke the new rule he or she would be held accountable by the organization, which has its own tribunal. Chartrand used a case of two members who were allegedly caught hunting without permission on private land last year as an example saying they've had to face the tribunal and could be fined.

"I read the findings of our elders and our tribal members. They're quite tough on our harvesters but it shows that our people are taking this thing very seriously and are going to hold people accountable to follow the laws and the rules."

He added that if an MMF member was caught breaking the new policy by a conservation officer, the organization would support the officer in the courts and speak out against its own member for breaking an MMF law.