Hunters still have round about Gullwing Road to hunt moose

A survey of the Bulkley Valley Lakes District confirmed that the moose population had declined from 2004 by 20 per cent.

Provincial officials are saying there’s no overriding concern about the state of the moose population following recent moves by the Caribou Clan to dig up a forest service road north of Burns Lake.

The clan, with the support of the Lake Babine Nation, says it’s worried about hunter access via the Gullwing Road.

It’s on the north side of Babine Lake and is reached by water.

But while the province acknowledges that moose populations have dropped in the area, the population is considered “comparatively healthy.”

“In 2011/12, a survey of the Bulkley Valley Lakes District confirmed that the moose population had declined from 2004 by 20 per cent. The population, however, is considered to be comparatively healthy, with good calf recruitment and bull-to-cow ratios above provincial objectives,” an emailed statement from the natural resources ministry indicates.

The ministry also states its officials are “trying to engage with the Lake Babine Nation in order to determine their specific concerns.”

“All Canadians have the right to engage in peaceful protests. That said, it is the ministry’s preference to resolve issues through negotiations.”

Ronnie West, who speaks for the Caribou clan, said it is normal practice to make unusable resource access roads no longer being used by forestry companies.

He said the clan will fill the road back in next spring so it can be used by tree planters.

“It’s not being used right now and in the past year there have been too many hunters across there,” said West when first speaking about the situation.

So far, says the natural resources ministry, there have been no complaints because there is still access to the area via other routes.

In the meantime, an official from Hampton Affiliates, which logs in the area, describes the situation as complicated.

“We believe the government needs to work toward a long-term access management plan for the area north of Babine Lake,” said Steve Zika, the company’s chief executive officer.

“This would help address Lake Babine Nation’s concern regarding uncontrolled access and hunting in their traditional territory.”