Moose harvesting initiative to resume

The Manitoba Métis Federation is reopening the Duck and Porcupine mountains for the limited harvest of bull moose in its third annual moose conservation harvesting initiative.

The initiative, which resumes Oct. 17, is the first of its kind in Manitoba and saw “safe and successful” results in the first two iterations, according to a press release issued by the MMF this week.

MMF President David Chartrand said he has heard from elders, harvesters and citizens in the Duck and Porcupine mountains, located 166 kilometres and 311 kilometres north of Brandon, respectively, that the moose population in those areas has remained “stable and safe” to harvest.

Manitoba has stated that two per cent, or 60 bull moose, in the Duck and Porcupine mountains can be harvested and that the population will not be harmed, the MMF said.

“After two successful harvests, we look forward to ripening this opportunity for our citizens to harvest a moose to feed their family and community,” Chartrand said in the release.

Under the MMF’s initiative, hunters can work as a “harvesting party” using one conservation moose tag, which will allow them the shared harvest of one bull moose in either the Duck or Porcupine mountains.

Specifically, a harvesting 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 harvesting party members. They can’t become members of a second harvesting party once registered.

The hunt leader and official applicant on behalf of their harvesting party must ensure all members of the group are valid Red River Métis harvesters prior to submitting their application.

The hunt leader is also required to report their successful harvest within two days from the time of the harvest and the return of the conservation moose tag stub to the MMF home office. If a harvesting party is unsuccessful, the captain must return the unused conservation moose tag at the end of the big-game season on Jan. 15.

The meat may be shared among the harvesting party, their families, elders and “vulnerable” community members, the release stated.

This year, the MMF is expanding the initiative to include harvester card holders who live outside of Manitoba, MMF Natural Resources Minister Leah LaPlante stated in the release.

“This is our first step towards opening up the ability for those who reside outside of Manitoba to return home to harvest and continue to practise their inherent right to harvest with their 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 how to clean and cut up an animal, but you’re spending time with your elders,” he said.

In the early 2000s, when the MMF was developing a harvesting initiative, Goodon was commissioned to speak with harvesters, elders and families across the Métis community about the importance of the harvest. 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 that we heard from people from every part of Manitoba … so that was absolutely underlined over and over and over again.”

A lottery-style draw will take place on Oct. 17 for 26 special conservation moose 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.

One conservation moose tag will be issued to each successfully drawn captain of the hunt on behalf of their harvesting party.

Miranda Leybourne, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Brandon Sun