First Nations' blockades target hunters
WILLIAMS LAKE, B.C. - Dozens of hunters hoping to bag a moose in the Chilcotin's Nemiah Valley have been turned back at two First Nations roadblocks.
The Tsilqot'in National Government says it's stopping non-native hunters and ATV riders to protect their food supply in the area southwest of Williams Lake.
"If they look like they're hunters, we prevent them from going through," says Tsilqot'in spokesperson Joe Alphonse.
"If they want to continue into the area, that's fine so long as they hand over their moose tags to us."
Chilcotin rancher Duncan Baynes is angry after he was stopped at one of the roadblocks.
"You know, these people are taking the law into their own hands," he says. "I don't think natives should be doing this. I don't think it's a way to win friends and influence people."
Baynes says dozens of hunters who travelled to the area and were turned back are also angry - and he says it gives B.C. "a black eye."
The MLA for the area, Walt Cobb, says his office is hearing from some of those hunters. "Roadblocks are illegal to start with. The people have a right to hunt out there."
The Alexis Creek RCMP say they're monitoring the blockade, but have no plans to intervene. Police say the blockades are set up in an area that's the subject of a land claims battle that's before the courts.
Meanwhile, the Tsilquot'in says it's planning to set up a third road block to keep non-native hunters out of the Chilcotin.