Photo: A sign placed at the entry to the Kechika River near Coal River, BC – Submitted
The Kaska Dena Council on behalf of the three communities in the area has put up and locked a gate leading into a popular hunting area near the Kechika River.
The gate was put up and locked Wednesday on the Skooke’s Landing access road, near Coal River, B.C.
The Council represents the Kwadacha, Good Hope Lake and Lower Post communities.
The Council feels that the area has been overhunted in the past few years and it is taking steps to protect the wildlife in the area.
The Council apparently has evidence that hunters have been killing animals and not packing up the meat, essentially wasting the meat. As well, there has been a lot of garbage left behind, and resident hunters have been having a large impact on the Kechika River and adjoining watersheds.
The Council has sent numerous letters to the Environment Minister, Barry Penner, but has not had its concerns addressed to their satisfaction.
Kaska Dena Council Chair George Miller says the Council’s main goal is to have discussions with the Environment Minister to have limited entry hunting in its traditional territory. Miller says it’s important for them to address both over hunting and safety concerns.
The Council also wants help funding a monitoring program to ensure the hunters entering the area take whatever they hunt with them.
Currently anyone is free to enter the area and there are no conservation officers located in the area.
Miller says despite what the ministry might say, he feels there are problems with over hunting.
The most recent information is the gate will likely be unlocked by this afternoon as the Council has been able to set up a meeting with the regional manager of the Peace Region for the Ministry of Environment.
The regional manager from the Ministry of Environment, has not yet returned our phone calls.
Update: A ministry official provided a written statment of how the ministry is working with the
the Kaska Dena First Nations.
The statement provided says:
The Ministry of Environment and Kaska Dena Council have agreed to meet and discuss access and hunting management in the Kechika River watershed. The gate on the Skooks Landing access road is open to the public at this time.
The government of British Columbia has worked closely with the Kaska Dena to address their wildlife management related concerns. Our working relationship has always been and will continue to be productive and respectful.
Map: This map shows the approximate location of the gate blocking access to the Kechika River
View Hunting blockade near Coal River in a larger map