After the dams, the counter-dam. On Friday, hunters blocked Route 117 in the Outaouais in response to checkpoints manned by Anichinabe people who have been limiting access to La Vérendrye Wildlife Reserve for nearly two weeks. Tension between the two groups escalates as moose hunting opens in nearby areas.
The dam, about 65 km northwest of Mont-Laurier, disrupted traffic for two hours, according to the Sûreté du Québec. The protest, in which a handful of angry hunters participated, ended without incident, police reported.
In recent weeks, under the leadership of the Anichinabe community of Lac Barrière, the Aboriginals have called for a five-year moratorium on sports hunting for moose in La Vérendrye wildlife reserve. They are worried about the decreasing size of the herd. As of Friday, they were holding seven roadblocks on forest roads perpendicular to Highway 117.
“The climate is really not good. And cohabitation thereafter, it will be difficult, ”Judge Miguel Hatin, the general manager of the Petawaga Controlled Zone (ZEC). This territory east of the La Vérendrye wildlife reserve is preparing to welcome 500 moose hunters. Due to rising tensions, some of them are starting to demand repayments.
At the weekend, hundreds of hunters must normally converge on the area since moose hunting, with firearms, opens in certain ZECs, outfitters and free territories. To access these areas, hunters often have to first cross the La Vérendrye reserve.
According to Hatin, activists at checkpoints are asking people wishing to pass to show that they are not bringing weapons. He reports acts of intimidation against hunters. In addition, he explains that the police do nothing to reopen the roads. “They were instructed not to act except in cases of extreme necessity,” he said, based on conversations with SQ agents.
On the side of the police force, spokesperson Marc Tessier refuses to comment on the legality of the roadblocks. “We’re here to make sure everything runs smoothly,” he explains. At the checkpoints, there are people who are able to move around – workers, people who have cabins – so it’s not completely closed either. “
Casey Ratt, the leader of the Lac Barrière community, did not respond to interview requests from the Duty, Friday. In recent days, the communities of Kitcisakik and Kitigan Zibi have joined the movement against sport hunting moose.
In response to the fears raised by the Anichinabe in 2019, the Quebec Ministry of Forests, Wildlife and Parks (MFFP) conducted an aerial inventory of moose in the La Vérendrye wildlife reserve last winter. It found the presence of 2.06 animals per 10 square kilometers – a decrease of 35% compared to the inventory carried out in 2008. Although the MFFP does not consider these results “critical”, it reduced by 30% l offer of a sport hunting license in the wildlife reserve for this fall.
Last Tuesday, the holder of the MFFP, Pierre Dufour, reiterated the fact that “the suspension of hunting in the La Vérendrye wildlife reserve is in no way envisaged”. “I once again seek the cooperation of all and invite the stakeholders to come to an agreement as quickly as possible without taking hunting enthusiasts hostage,” he said.