Yukon's Ross River Dena Council wants hunting limited in its territory

There's talk again this year of blockading the North Canol Road as the council calls for monitoring and regulations to curtail hunting by outsiders.

Ross River area is being over-hunted by outsiders limiting locals' hunting chances, says councillor

Hunting on the North Canol Road has become more contentious in recent years with local hunters complaining about an influx of hunters from outside the area.

For the second year in a row, the Ross River Dena Council is calling for action on over-hunting in its traditional territories, with some people again talking about a blockade of the North Canol Road.

"Unfortunately, a lot of our members call it the killing fields," said Coun. Derrick Redies.

He said it's "quite frustrating" for members whose hunt have been unsuccessful when they see outsiders with big hauls.

"A number of them, when they are on their journey back home see these great big trucks loaded up with their quads and freezers and you know they have a bunch of racks on there," Redies said.

Coun. Derrick Redies, centre standing, with Chief Jack Caesar, left, and councillors Verna Nukon and Jenny Caesar on the right. (Nancy Thomson/CBC)

There are too many hunters from the Northwest Territories, as well as resident hunters from around the Yukon, he said. Kaska hunters tell him they can run into four or five hunting groups in any given day.

Ross River resident James Dick wants that curtailed. He said one option could be for local people to blockade the North Canol Road. It runs from Ross River up to the Northwest Territories border.

"I think that's one way to slow it down, you know, to keep the people out," said Dick.

"I think we need to have some kind of control before this happens up the North Canol."

The North Canol Road, built during the Second World War, has become a popular hunting destination. (CBC)

'It's our livelihood'

There are no special restrictions on hunting moose in the Ross River area. 

There is a harvest limit on moose around nearby Faro and the government could consider something similar around Ross River, said Redies.

He said there should be a limit on the overall number of moose than can be taken by licensed hunters and a moratorium for a limited time.

"It's an infringement to our title to our land," he said of the hunting activity.

"It's our livelihood, it's our way of life. Our people have made a way of life of the caribou and moose, it evolves around our whole way of life," said Redies.

"It is just really sad that we don't have the ability to make the proper changes."

He said the Dena Council is looking at hiring a land steward to educate and monitor hunters.

The Dena Council has also been fighting a so far unsuccessful court battle with the territorial government over hunting rights in its traditional territory.

With files from Mike Rudyk