By Don Norman
Manitoba Conservation and Climate is continuing ongoing enforcement against night hunting and hunting in moose closure areas continues to address illegal hunting. Last month we reported on some of their activities in Game Hunting Area 26 (GHA 26). Several locals had been arrested but based on Manitoba Conservation’s press releases since late October, it appears they’ve turned their attention to moose closure areas in other parts of the province. The last charges laid for activity in GHA 26 were laid last month after a lengthy investigation into the killing of a bull moose that led to charges against four individuals.
The investigation began in early October, with information that a bull moose had been killed in the Game Hunting Area (GHA) 26 moose closure in Nopiming Provincial Park. Conservation officers executed a pair of search warrants and found the illegally killed moose along with sufficient evidence to charge three men from Sagkeeng First Nation and one woman from Powerview-Pine Falls with possessing illegally taken wildlife. One of the men was also charged with killing a moose in a closed area.
The group was issued a restitution order of $5,000 that must be paid for killing the moose. The moose meat was given to elders at Sagkeeng First Nation for distribution to the community.
Since Oct. 10, conservation officers have conducted patrols to enforce Manitoba’s new Wildlife Amendment Act (Safe Hunting and Shared Management), resulting in:
- charges or appearance notices to 31 individuals for serious wildlife offences,
- warnings to 19 individuals for night hunting without a permit or for hunting in a moose conservation closure,
- charges to 11 individuals for possessing illegally taken wildlife,
seizures of eight vehicles,
- seizures of 16 firearms, and
- restitution orders totalling $20,500.
On Oct. 10, the Wildlife Amendment Act (Safe Hunting and Shared Management) took effect with the goal of ensuring a safe hunting environment. Night hunting is now illegal in Manitoba on all private land. The act also allows the establishment of shared management committees, which can be an important tool for improved wildlife conservation, including for moose.
The province has implemented a permit system to allow opportunities for rights-based hunting on some Crown land, with 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 at night on Crown land and do not need to apply for a permit, though it is subject to a three-kilometre safety buffer around occupied sites and provincial roadways.
In southern Manitoba, night hunting is prohibited except with a permit that allows rights-based hunting on Crown land, subject to terms and conditions establishing where it can be done safely.
Sagkeeng’s Chief Derrick Henderson, has been critical of the lack of communication with the province over their initiative. “Where is the duty to consult? They talk about working together and having joint moose management, but they have never mapped out what that means,” he said. He also said that if a Sagkeeng member is charged we will defend them in the court of law. “We have treaty rights and will continue to challenge the governments of the day.”