By Miranda Leybourne
Journalist of the Local Journalism Initiative
The Manitoba Metis Federation is reopening the Duck and Porcupine mountains for the limited harvest of bull moose as part of its third annual moose conservation harvest initiative.
The initiative, which resumes Oct. 17, is the first of its kind in Manitoba and has shown “safe and successful” results in the first two iterations, according to a press release issued by MMF this week.
MMF President David Chartrand said he heard from elders, fishers and citizens of the Duck and Porcupine Mountains, located
166 kilometers and 311 kilometers north of Brandon, respectively, that the moose population in those areas has remained “stable and safe” for harvest.
Manitoba said two percent, or 60 bull moose, in the Duck and Porcupine Mountains can be harvested and the population will not be harmed, MMF said.
“After two successful harvests, we look forward to maturing this opportunity for our citizens to harvest a moose to feed their families and community,” Chartrand said in the release.
Under the MMF initiative, hunters can work as a “harvest team” using a single moose conservation tag, which will allow them the shared harvest of a bull moose in the Duck Mountains or Porcupine.
Specifically, a harvest party must consist of a minimum of three and a maximum of six Métis harvesters, all of whom must hold a valid MMF Métis Harvester Card. Each member must also hold the
2022-23 Conservation Trust Fund sticker and be registered as a harvest group member. They cannot become members of a second harvest team once registered.
The hunt leader and formal applicant on behalf of their harvest team must ensure that all party members are valid Red River Métis fishers before submitting their application.
The hunt leader is also required to declare their harvest successful within two days of harvesting and returning the moose’s conservation tag stub to the MMF head office. If a harvest party fails, the captain must return the unused retention tag to the moose at the end of the big game season on January 15.
Meat can be shared between the harvesting group, their families, elders and “vulnerable” members of the community, the statement said.
This year, MMF is expanding the initiative to include harvester card holders who live outside of Manitoba, MMF Natural Resources Minister Leah LaPlante said in the release.
“This is our first step towards opening up the ability for those residing outside of Manitoba to return home to harvest and continue to exercise their inherent right to harvest with friends and family,” she said.
Harvesting meat to feed their families and communities is an integral part of being Métis, said Will Goodon, a harvester and MMF minister. Goodon grew up in the Turtle Mountains.
“Harvesting is a big part of who we are. You’re not just learning how to track and clean and carve an animal, but you’re spending time with your elders,” he said.
In the early 2000s, as the MMF developed a harvesting initiative, Goodon was commissioned to speak with fishers, elders and families in the Métis community about the importance of harvesting. The biggest takeaways at the time, he told The Sun, were the recognition of Métis harvesting rights and the importance of conservation.
“Conservation was the cornerstone we heard from people across Manitoba? so it was absolutely pointed out again and again and again.
A lottery-style draw will be held on October 17 for 26 special moose conservation tags. Each tag will be area specific, with a total of 16 tags to be issued for the Duck Mountains and 10 for the Porcupine Mountains.
A conservation tag for moose will be issued to each hunt captain drawn on behalf of his group of hunters.
Miranda Leybourne is a Local Journalism Initiative Reporter who works for the BRANDON SUN. The LJI program is funded by the federal government. Turtle Island News does not receive funding from LJI.
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