With Cree traditional lifestyle constantly under threat, a new voice is looking to make hunters’ concerns about Canada geese, moose, caribou and black bears a top priority with the governments..
Violet Pachanos was recently chosen by the Grand Council to represent the Cree on the Hunting Fishing and Trapping Coordinating Committee, where both Crees, Inuit and Quebec government officials sit.
One of the biggest challenges facing Crees is to play a strong role in preserving the goose and moose populations which are on the decline, without giving up their rights to hunt them.
Research on Canada geese that started last spring will continue this year. All trappers and hunters are asked to report their ill to the Cree Trappers Association. The CTA has printed some booklets especially for this purpose and they are requesting that any leg bands or neck collars be reported to the CTA. A $5 reward is offered for them. It is important because it can show that Crees are harvesting more than just the geese that nest in the Ungava region. Numbers of Canada geese in the Ungava region are on the decline. Weather, over-hunting, loss of habitat and predators have been given as factors. For the third year in a row, non-Native hunters have not been allowed to hunt migrating geese in Quebec or the US. There will be a early hunt for giant geese. The Canadian government has pressured the Crees to stop their hunt as well, but the Cree Trappers’ Association has refused. The CTA has offered to participate in studies of the problem to help the Federal Government manage goose stocks more successfully.
The HFTCC have requested that the Zone 17 hunting regulations for moose remain in effect for this season. This means that only males will be open to sports hunters. It was only under the threat of court action that Quebec changed the regulations to limit the area’s sports kill to 40 male moose. A total of 32 kills were reported from that area and this kill limit will be continued in 1997.
Caribou are also part of the files that Panchano will be looking at. Crees requested a 150 meter no shooting zone on either side of the roads in Cree territory. Crees have said that the winter caribou hunting season sees many non-Crees shooting from their vehicles. The MEF have agreed but only to a 10 meter corridor for the 1997 season. The MEF have discussed extending the winter Caribou hunting season until March 31st. In the past the season closed on February 15th. The CTA has sent a letter expressing their opposition to such a plan. The letter says that the increased amount of non-Cree hunters would not be beneficial to traditional activities of Cree trappers in the area. The MEF have postponed their decision on this until the 1998-99 hunting season.
The MEF is also looking to open up the black bear population to a controlled hunting season in zone 22. Presently the black bear is reserved for Cree trappers and hunters in zone 22. This idea was presented by the MEF in it’s proposed Black Bear Management Plan for 1998-2002. The CRA and the CTA will be consulting with the trappers on this issue.