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Alberta fish and game group concerned over Métis hunting deal with province

Hunters enter the woods to go deer hunting on the first day of regular firearms deer hunting season, in most of Pennsylvania, Monday, Nov. 26, 2018 in Zelienople, Pa. An Alberta hunters and fishers group says a provincial deal on Metis hunting rights could lead to wildlife being overharvested. THE CANADIAN PRESS/ AP/Keith Srakocic

An Alberta hunters and fishers group says a provincial deal on Métis hunting rights could lead to wildlife being overharvested in some areas.

The deal, quietly released earlier this month, gives registered Métis the ability to hunt and fish year-round throughout northern and central Alberta.

READ MORE: Part of Jasper National Park closed for traditional hunt

Brian Dingreville of the Alberta Fish and Game Association says it could create too much pressure on those resources.

“We are apprehensive that this agreement opens the door to the unregulated harvesting of Alberta’s wildlife,” said AFGA President Brian Dingreville.

“We have concerns when anyone is given the right to take unlimited quantities of fish or game or to disregard seasonal restrictions which are in place to ensure their long-term survival.”

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READ MORE: Alberta sees big hike in hunting participation

The agreement does contain provisions for monitoring and managing how many animals are taken.

But Dingreville questions the province’s capacity for such work, as well as its ability to enforce rules over such a wide landscape.

“It is of concern as to who will be doing said monitoring as the enforcement of existing conservation laws has already been limited by insufficient budgets that are dedicated to that task,” Fish and Game said in a statement.

READ MORE: Alberta hunting group says government should double number of wildlife officers

According to the Métis Nation of Alberta, new rules replace a 2010 policy and recognize the rights of eligible MNA citizens to hunt, fish and trap for food in five large regional areas in central and northern Alberta (as opposed to current 25 smaller local areas.)

The policy changes go into effect Sept. 1.

People who identify as Métis will have to obtain a Métis Harvester Identification Sticker, which will have to be put on their MNA citizenship cards. It is valid for life and is not transferable.

READ MORE: Alberta signs 10-year deal with Metis Nation of Alberta to push ‘respect and co-operation’

Map of the five new large regional Métis Harvesting Areas in central and northern Alberta created in 2019. Credit: Métis Nation of Alberta

The agreement was reached to bring the province in line with a 2003 Supreme Court decision.

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Manitoba and Ontario have reached similar deals with their Métis populations.

The Alberta Fish and Game Association is a not-for-profit volunteer organization that promotes responsible use of fish and wildlife resources and the conservation of their habitats.

— With files from The Canadian Press