Wildlife conservation and management is a top priority for DRFN. Doig River Members and staff are active on the land, always upholding and advocating for traditional harvesting systems and protocols and ensuring wildlife are treated with respect when harvested.
Lands and Resources office staff are currently collecting wildlife data through camera trap programs and recording wildlife sightings and harvesting. We also use the ‘permission to hunt’ letters as a way to monitor wildlife and harvesting on the land.
Traditionally, permission to hunt was requested of Chief and Council by a prospective hunter from a different territory. This traditional practice was done to show respect for the Nation and the wildlife resource within the territory being hunted. The practice served as an opportunity for the Nation to understand hunting pressure, harvest levels and wildlife stewardship practices in their territory and helped inform their traditional role as wildlife stewards. The practice of requesting permission to hunt is not as common as it once was. DRFN and the COS collaborated on development of a modern ‘permission to hunt’ letter that places restrictions on species, timing and location and is enforced by the Conservation Officer Service during their inspections. This is a tool for the Nation to participate in wildlife management in their territory, contribute to improved stewardship, conservation and revive traditional cultural protocols.
Through the Aboriginal Liaison Program, one of our Lands’ staff members, Lori Lineham, is participating in training opportunities. These include shadowing conservation officers and participating in joint inspections with BC Oil and Gas Commission staff. These activities create opportunities for cross cultural training as well as shared understanding of wildlife values and approaches to wildlife management.
We are also collaborating with the conservation officers to create sheltering letters. These are letters of permission for members of other Nations to fill out when they plan to hunt in our territory. These letters allow us to record the hunting that occurs and ensure wildlife is harvested in a sustainable manner. This information will facilitate improved resource management and allow conservation officers to uphold traditional and cultural hunting and trapping protocols.
Additionally, we continue to enforce and communicate cultural protocols to improve wildlife stewardship. Our cultural protocols include actions that reflect our respect for the land such as: taking only what we need; reporting to the Nation on what was taken during our hunts; using all parts of the animals; and, making offerings to the Creator in thanks for the sacrifice the animals endured to provide for us.
DRFN is working on developing inclusive habitat models for culturally important species. The models are developed using both vegetation and ecosystem mapping, geospatial tools and traditional knowledge. Community members are helping to validate the models in the field. These habitat models will inform a lot of work being done by the lands office including territorial restoration planning, caribou herd planning, land use planning, consultation, and development wildlife management strategies.
Chinchaga is located in the Boreal Forest Natural Region of northwest Alberta and northeast British Columbia. Chinchaga’s landscapes support the full range of the Chinchaga Woodland caribou herd, in addition to many other boreal wildlife species. Woodland caribou have been designated as threatened provincially and nationally, but proliferating surface disturbances throughout Chinchaga has diminished the quality and quantity caribou habitat further contributing to the decline of caribou populations. (Source)
DRFN is participating in the Range Plan for the Chinchaga Caribou herd and the Grizzly Bear Recovery Strategy with the Province of British Columbia. Other key initiatives that DRFN is working on include:
- Wildlife Management Plan
- Land Use Plan
- Water Management – Cumulative Impact Risk Assessment
- Watershed Restoration Plan for DRFN Territory
- Building a platform for watershed assessment that is inclusive of indigenous perspectives and values about water