Mi'kmaq hunters meet to discuss moose harvest concerns
'We call ourselves the stewards of the land. And we just can't talk the talk, we gotta sort of walk that walk'
Mi'kmaq hunters gathered in Orangedale, N.S., on Tuesday to discuss issues and concerns related to the Mi'kmaq moose harvest.
Mi'kmaq in Nova Scotia reserve the treaty right to harvest moose on traditional grounds, including the Cape Breton Highlands, and they've adopted their own set of guidelines to govern the hunt.
"It's called Netukulimk, and it means to go out and gather," said Waycobah Chief Rod Googoo, who serves as lead chief of lands, wildlife and forestry for the Assembly of Nova Scotia Mi'kmaq Chiefs.
It's been several years since those guidelines have been updated, he said.
"We call ourselves the stewards of the land. And we just can't talk the talk, we gotta sort of walk that walk too, and make sure that our hunters are acting and hunting in a safe, responsible manner."
'That's not a good time to be hunting moose'
Among the guidelines is an agreement to refrain from harvesting moose between Jan. 1 and Aug. 15 each year.
"We had some of our hunters go up there late July, early August, to hunt some moose. And that's not a good time to be hunting moose," he said.
"They shouldn't be doing that at all, because the animals are just coming off the winter, they just had their calves, and some of them are still with the mothers."
ID validation issues
Other recent issues with the hunt include changes to the identification required for Mi'kmaq hunters, and whether Mi'kmaq hunters should be required to carry a firearms licence, said Clifford Paul, moose management co-ordinator with the Unama'ki Institute of Natural Resources.
"The majority of our harvesters are role-model harvesters. They hunt to feed themselves, their families and their communities," he said.
While the Mi'kmaq harvest guidelines are not enforced, it's hoped hunters will respect the example set by their elders and peers.
"I know we were at a meeting one time and this young man was saying, 'This is my right. I'm going to do this, I'm going to do this.'
"And then his auntie says, 'Nephew, I don't like the way you're hunting, I think you have to change. The way you're doing things is not Mi'kmaq.' So, you know, that's the kind of thing we have with these meetings," said Paul.
More meetings to come
Googoo said there's also a need for a better reporting system to keep track of the number of moose harvested.
He expects there will be more meetings held over the winter in preparation for next year's hunt.