Sagkeeng to cover legal costs for their members if charged
By Don Norman
On Saturday, Oct. 10, the Wildlife Amendment Act (Safe Hunting and Shared Management) took effect with the goal of protecting Manitoba’s moose population and ensuring a safe hunting environment. Night hunting is now illegal in Manitoba for all licensed hunters and on private land.
The province is implementing a permit system to allow opportunities for rights-based hunting on some Crown land, and is putting in place different requirements for northern and southern Manitoba based on extensive Crown-Indigenous consultations that contributed to the development of the legislation.
In northern Manitoba, Indigenous hunters may hunt on Crown land and do not need to apply for a permit, though night hunting by rights-holders is prohibited near occupied sites and roadways for safety reasons.
In southern Manitoba, night hunting is banned except with a permit that allows rights-based hunting on Crown land, subject to terms and conditions establishing where it can be done safely.
Since the act took effect, Manitoba Conservation officers have participated in a number of night hunting enforcement activities, in some cases aided by aerial surveillance. These enforcement patrols have resulted in arrests and educational warnings under the new legislation.
Within Game Hunting Area 26 (which covers the area north of Winnipeg to the Wanipigow River and east of Lake Winnipeg to the Ontario border), the Manitoba Conservation recorded the following night hunting interactions.
Early on Oct. 13, aerial surveillance was instrumental in locating a vehicle that had been seen leaving a roadway and using a trail or non-maintained road on Crown land west of Bissett. Officers stopped the vehicle as it emerged from the trail and issued warnings to three hunters for hunting at night near built-up areas, which is dangerous.
In the early hours of Oct. 13, as well, aerial surveillance found another vehicle using a spotlight in the bush in Red Deer Provincial Forest near Lac du Bonnet. With direction from the aircraft, officers located the suspect vehicle and stopped it on a road leading out of the area. Three hunters were issued warnings for hunting at night without a permit under the new legislation.
Also early on Oct. 13, officers intercepted four individuals in Nopiming Provincial Park after seeing a vehicle stopping and calling for moose, and sweeping the side of a road with a spotlight along Provincial Road 314 near Cat Lake. Three individuals from Sagkeeng First Nation and one from Winnipeg were issued appearance notices for night hunting and hunting in a moose closure zone. A 2019 Dodge Ram truck, two rifles, spotlights and other hunting equipment were seized. In the early hours of Wednesday, Oct. 14, officers encountered a group of hunters using a spotlight to hunt from a provincial road near Springer Lake in Nopiming Provincial Park.
Five men were arrested and their vehicle, a 2010 Dodge Ram truck, as well as a rifle, a spotlight and various other hunting items, were seized. The men, all from Sagkeeng First Nation, were issued appearance notices for night hunting and hunting in a moose closure area.
Sagkeeng Chief Derrick Henderson has said that the province enacted this legislation without proper consultations with local First Nation populations. “The new legislation enacted on a Friday, before the long weekend is a tactic of this government. Where is the duty to consult? They talk about working together and having joint moose management, etc, but they have never mapped out what that means,” said the Chief. He also said the band will be covering legal expenses of any Sagkeeng hunters charged. “If a Sagkeeng member is charged we will defend them in the court of law,” said Henderson. “We have treaty rights and will continue to challenge the governments of the day.”