The Teslin Tlingit Council (TTC) will once again restrict moose harvesting on its traditional territory and settlement lands this hunting season due to concerns about overharvesting.
The Yukon First Nation made the announcement in press release Aug. 1.
The restrictions are the result of a motion TTC passed at its annual general assembly last month.
TTC is asking its citizens to continue to comply with voluntary harvest restrictions, which include limiting harvest to one moose per household and not hunting in certain areas at all. It will also not be issuing access permits to its settlement lands to non-citizens effective immediately, essentially eliminating the possibility of non-citizens hunting moose in those areas.
According to the press release, the TTC is “very concerned” about the overharvesting of moose of its traditional territory, and TTC elders say that the moose population has been “decreasing for a number of years.”
“We take our role as stewards of the land seriously. This means ensuring that our future generations can also enjoy fishing and hunting,” TTC Chief Richard Sidney said in the press release. “Conservation is not only a priority but a duty for the TTC.”
Sidney did not return a request for comment before deadline.
The TTC is asking citizens to register their moose harvests with the Department of Lands and Resources to help with data collection and moose management.
TTC has previously restricted moose harvests before over conservation concerns. The first time it stopped issuing access permits to non-citizens was in 2008, and TTC citizens faced similar voluntary restrictions in 2011.
In an interview Aug. 2, Environment Yukon spokesperson Roxanne Stasyszyn said that while the department does have conservation concerns about moose populations located in the TTC’s traditional territory — in particular, the South Canol and Cassiar Mountains areas — it is not restricting the licenced harvest of moose this season.
“We are working with Teslin Tlingit Council to gather more information, that’s including harvest data and population census surveys, to inform any potential intervention that may be required to keep harvest sustainable,” she said, adding that staff from both governments meet “frequently” to discussion fish and wildlife management.
Four hunting subzones located along the South Canol Road are also subject to special reporting requirements for moose harvest this season, Stasyszyn said, a project that’s being done in partnership with the TTC to get more data on harvest pressures in specific areas.
Environment Yukon’s last moose population survey that encompassed the TTC’s traditional territory was done in 2010. That survey, of the Nisutlin South area, found that the number of bulls compared to cows was only half of what it was 25 years earlier. More recent moose population surveys have overlapped with portions of TTC’s traditional territory and show mixed results — 2013 surveys of the South Canol and Cassiar Mountains areas found that moose harvest levels at that point were not sustainable.
However, a 2011 survey of the M’Clintock area, the eastern part of which overlaps with TTC traditional territory, found that harvesting numbers were sustainable and that there had been a slight increase in the moose population, while a 2013 survey of the Teslin Burns area showed that the moose population had declined slightly but that harvest appeared to be sustainable.
The numbers are just “one piece of the pie” when it comes to management though, Stasyszyn said.
“Scientific data, together with traditional and on-the-land knowledge as well as First Nation concerns, they all play a role in guiding management decisions like whether harvest restrictions should be put in place,” she said.
Contact Jackie Hong at firstname.lastname@example.org