As of Jan. 15, all Gitanyow traditional territory is closed to hunting to continue it’s moose rebuilding program, which has run two years.
Two Gitanyow hereditary chiefs (Gwinuu and Haitsimsxw) have prohibited hunting during the regular season, which began on Sept. 15 going through to Jan. 15.
Four chiefs (Luuxhon, Watakhayetsxw, Gwaas Hlaam and Malii) ended hunting on their territory on Dec. 31 and the final two (Gamlaxyeltxw and Wii Litsxw) did so today.
The reason for the self-imposed limitation is the moose population in the Gitanyow area has declined by more than 60 per cent in 10 years with no sign of a return to a sustainable population on the horizon, Kevin Koch, Gitanyow wildlife officer, said.
“Any hunting that was allowed this year and last required a permit from the Gitanyow chief’s office,” Koch said.
All permits issued for the 2013/2014 season were for bull moose only, which had to have at least one antler.
Mark Williams, B.C. Ministry of Forest, Lands and Natural Resource senior wildlife biologist, voiced the support the province is giving the Gitanyow and outlined some of the cooperation which makes the campaign a success.
“B.C. fully supports the Gitanyow efforts to manage and report their harvest and see this as a program that is consistent with and helpful to efforts to recover the Nass moose population,” Williams said. “The Gitanyow have requested that the Conservation Officer Service assist in enforcing this program as required.”
As yet, no minimum or maximum penalty has been set by the Gitanyow chiefs for any hunter found to contravene the new ban, Koch said.
“We will deal with issues on a case-by-case basis,” he said.
MFLNRO is in the process of helping to form a Nass moose recovery working group that will consider additional management actions that may help in increasing the density of moose within the Nass wildlife area, Williams said.
There is also a plan set to conduct a moose count for the Kitwanga and Kispiox valleys, which Koch will be part of, which hasn’t occurred since 1999.
“We’ve been asking to get one done for a number of years,” Koch said.