Cow moose sign project’s two billboards will soon be greeting motorists on Highway 16 (Hwy. 16) between Burns Lake and Houston.
The project spearheaded by Dan and Vivian Simmons, who are residents of Williams Lake, was started in 2014 to stop the harvesting of cow moose in the province. Their billboards can be seen across several highways all over the province. The couple has also put up over thousand signs all across the province, urging the provincial government to stop the antlerless moose hunt.
“We are hunters and we are not against hunting. But we are trying to promote the protection of the cows and to me it makes no sense to kill them when the numbers are already declining throughout the province,” said Dan Simmons.
One of the major arguments from the supporters of banning the cow moose hunt is that if moose and wolves are so intertwined that killing moose would save caribou from wolves, why is it that moose numbers have been going down all across the province along with caribou, while wolves’ numbers continue to climb. While the supporters recognize that the moose population is just now starting to recover, they also believe it is still a long ways away from fully recovering.
Supporters of this project want the province to focus just on predator management instead of opting for alternative prey management. One such supporter, Kyla Neville, a Topley resident, reached out to Simmons and offered to put up the cow moose sign project’s billboards on her property along the highway.
The newest additions of the billboards will now be coming along Hwy. 16 near Topley.
The project, which is around $10,000 including the printing, mounting, construction, builder work etc. will be realized by this spring through donations from several residents and businesses from the Burns Lake and Lakes District region.
Starland Supply in Burns Lake has donated a few materials for the signs along with other donors who have donated materials, time, money, such as Jim Neville, Tell Tale Signs, Andrea Sartori, Rob Humphreys, Chantal Tom and the Burns Lake Native Development Corporation (BLNDC), LD Electric and Control, Woods and Water, Stevenson’s knifes, Nicole Hamilton and P. Cole, Francois Ootsa Sportsmen’s Association, West Fraser Concrete and many others.
MLA John Rustad and MLA Ellis Ross are also part of the long list of donors for this project coming near Topley.
Village of Burns Lake councillor Charlie Rensby has also been a staunch supporter of the project and is one of the donors.
“Dan Simmons and I are allies in the fight against the cow calf moose hunt. The cow moose sign project takes the first big step of raising awareness of the issues we are trying to overcome. This project also serves as a rallying cry to hunters, conservationists, and Indigenous people to ensure that we have a healthy moose population for traditions year after year. And we’re just getting started,” said Rensby.
Another billboard will also be going to McLeod First Nations across John Hart Hwy., this spring. According to Dan Simmons, the First Nations territory is in the main region where they issued the major number of cow/calf tags and the lack of consultation has upset many in the region. Till date, over 30 First Nations communities have signed up with the campaign.
Chief Corrina Leween of Cheslatta Carrier Nation has been one such strong voices in opposition of the cow moose hunt and has expressed her disapproval over the process on a number of occassions, insisting that the right way to go about this would be through dialogue with the locals living on the lands, with the First Nations elders.
“I am really hopeful that they (the government) listen to people, the hunters, the First Nations; if they just listen to people, they will understand that killing the cows is not the answer,” said Simmons.