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Frustration grows with fungi foragers harvesting on band land in Shuswap

Skwlāx te Secwepemcúl̓ecw says mushroom pickers could face trespassing charges
Skwlāx te Secwepemcúl̓ecw Kukpi7 James Tomma stated that non-band members are not allowed to harvest edible mushrooms on band land, and that doing so could result in prosecution for trespassing. (Heather Black-Salmon Arm Observer)

Skwlāx te Secwepemcúl̓ecw, formerly the Little Shuswap Indian Band, says fungi foraging by outsiders will not be tolerated.

Spring is traditionally the time that Skwlāx members harvest edible mushrooms within their territory, but are facing some challenges this year. An April 26 media release explains the band is not only still reeling from last summer’s Bush Creek East wildfire last summer, but has had some outside pickers come onto the reserve to harvest what mushrooms have sprouted.

“We have seen instances of these pickers going onto band land on a forest service road near Scotch Creek and near Lee Creek,” Kukpi7 (Chief) James Tomma said, and that in one case they had set up camp and were selling the mushrooms to a commercial vendor.

“This will not be tolerated,” he added. “Any mushrooms growing on Band land belong to the members. They have the first right to pick them as it is one of their traditional food sources.”

He further stated that outside pickers who want to set up camp won’t be accepted, especially when they start fires, which is dangerous as the area recovers from the wildfire.

Officials with the Territorial Stewardship department and band security operations have already had conversations with unauthorized pickers in the last few weeks.

“Any non-band members caught harvesting the mushrooms, or setting up these camps, will be dealt with in a harsher manner,” Tomma said. “This could very well include prosecution for trespassing.”

Read more: Skwlāx band in Shuswap takes first step home in wildfire recovery

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About the Author: Heather Black

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