Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Métis hunting deal harmless, official says

Won't abuse their privileges

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THE recognition of Métis hunting rights in Manitoba won't prompt a stampede of gun-toting enthusiasts heading out into the wild, says the head of the province's hunting and fishing tourism industry.

Paul Turenne, executive director of the Manitoba Lodges & Outfitters Association, said the just-signed deal between the province and the Manitoba Métis Federation to give Métis people the same hunting rights as First Nations should benefit the hunting tourism industry.

The agreement means Métis people can hunt and fish without a provincial licence but only in certain parts of the province.

"The fact (Métis people) don't have to buy a provincial licence isn't going to remove some huge barrier that had stopped them from hunting and fishing before," Turenne said.

"They share the same herds of deer and lakes of fish. Having this agreement should help build the relationships for better joint management."

The fact the MMF has also agreed that its hunters will abide by conservation agreements and safety rules -- such as not hunting at night -- is another positive development, he said.

John Lavallee, the Métis owner of Crooked Creek Lodge near St. Ambroise, agreed with Turenne. He also said the recognition of Métis hunting rights wouldn't result in overhunting or overfishing in the province.

"We have regulations that we follow. We don't hunt big-game animals when they're having their young; we don't hunt ducks when they're sitting on their nests laying eggs and we don't fish when fish are spawning," he said.

Any Métis hunters or fishermen who kill more than their allotment and are caught by authorities will be charged, he said.

But not everybody believes the new Métis hunting rights will be a good thing. Brad Gogal, part-owner of Burntwood Lake Lodge in Snow Lake, predicts more hunters will come on stream and that could result in certain parts of the province being closed off to prevent over-hunting.

"Now there's going to be more pressure around here. The locals are going to get shoved out of their own hunting areas," he said.

Two areas of the province have already been closed off or partially closed off for moose hunting -- near Duck Mountain and north of the Whiteshell -- and Gogal is afraid more will follow.

Turenne noted the agreement wouldn't grant commercial licences to Métis hunters as part of their rights. Would-be Métis outfitters would have to go through the same process to sell trips to American hunters, for example, as any other outfitter would.

geoff.kirbyson@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition October 1, 2012 A4

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