Moose tag crunch
By STEVE NEWMAN - Staff Reporter - Barry's Bay This Week - Wednesday, April 3, 2002

There will be virtually no moose hunting licenses issued to local hunters this year due to a sharp drop in the moose population in this neck of the woods.

Three years of moose-tick infestation in seven years have hit hard, says Ministry of Natural Resources district manager Ray Bonnenberg.

While addressing Renfrew County councillors March 27, he said other reasons for the decline in moose numbers are:

high success rate of local hunters,
hunting inside Algonquin Park (which was opened to aboriginals in the past decade) and,
harvesting of too many moose calves.

The news isn't good for local lodges or hunting-camp operators. "That's totally unbelievable. It's devastating to us, but we're willing, to sacrifice," says Mary Lou Turner, who helps run 65-year-old Turner's Camp near Round Lake.

She says she understands the need for conservation. but adds everyone needs to contribute. The moose camp is already booked for October 2002, but Ms Turner says continuing, low number of moose tags may be hard to satisfy customers. This coming season, for instance, Turner's Camp's only bull-moose hunting tag will have to be shared by dozens of clients. In past seasons, Turner's Camp had as many as five tags (from MNR) to share with different hunting groups.

"The whole bottom line is conservation. If there's a very big decline in moose, we all have to sacrifice Ms Turner says.

In the four most immediate areas, an estimated 6,000 applicants will emerge with about 40 moose-hunting tags. Individual or group tags represent 27, while tags traditionally supplied to area operators will increase that number slightly.

Last year, the number of tags for the four districts in this area for bull moose and cows was much higher - 236.

Yet, the writing was already on the wall for district 55 B in the Madawaska-Whitney area. In 2001, only 12 bull and three cow tags were provided, compared to the 2002 quota of three bull and two cow tags.

The drop is much more significant in the other local districts. For district 55 B, which includes Round Lake, the quota is two bull tags and one cow tags,, down from a total of 64 tags last year.

"Provincially our moose population is up 30 per cent (in the past 20 years)." says Mr. Bonenberg.
But not here.

"Everyone here, they're just too good at hunting," says Mr. Bonenberg. He anticipates an increased allotment of deer-hunting tags this year. Local deer offspring likely thrived thanks to the mild winter, he says.

Data to determine the moose population was collected through hunter post cards, hung camp surveys and aerial surveys. MNR staff also say they need to develop a long-term strategy, but says the rehab program will probably last a minimum of five years.

This was the main message presented by Greg Sarazin, chief negotiator for the Algonquin Nation Tribal Council (ANTC), at a community meeting of the Bonnechere Algonquin Community (BAC) held at the Pembroke Legion Sunday after-noon.

The ANTC was established by an accord between seven Algonquin constituencies including the Sharbot Mishigama, Anishinabe of Algonquin First Nation, Ardoch Algonquin First Nation, Mattawa/NorthBay Region, Greater Golden Lake, Bonnechere Algonquin Community and Out of 'Territory Algonquins.

Sunday's information session provided an opportunity for Mr. Sarazin, who has been involved in negotiations for 20 years, to bring everyone up to date on what has happened since the March 31 deadline to have an agreement in principal signed has gone by. There have not been any talks between the parties since Nov. 16. 2001.

"The Canada/Ontario negotiators have not set a date for the next negotiating session, but they are open to it and they are just waiting," he said. "Right now everything is on hold because they are waiting for this giant working relationship to be worked on.”

There have not been any negotiations since November because at that time the chief and council of Pikwakanagan decided that group had to pull out of the Algonquin Nations Negotiation Directorate (ANND).

"Ontario made it clear that negotiations weren't going to get on track unless there could be a group formed to represent all Algonquin people," Mr. Sarazin said. "Within the last month, Ontario achieved an extension for April, May or June to allow the Algonquin side to get together."

He said the challenge has always been that the Algonquin people had to exist in one group with one common voice, with one negotiating team.

They want to make sure everybody is included and that everything is settled at one time," Mr. Sarazin explained. "They don't want the treaty to be thrown out when it is done because somebody's interests were not taken into consideration."

In May 1999, the Algonquin people were on their way to a common representation with the formation of the ANND which represented most Algonquins. ANND is made up of Algonquins who live at Pikwakanagan, band members living in other areas and even non-status Algonquins. It represents status and non-status Algonquins in the Negotiations. The chief and council, however, want to conduct negotiations on behalf of the status Algonquins.

In May 2000, the chief signed off on loans and grants and they were transferred to ANND as the political organization to handle negotiations. At that time, it began to define the Algonquin vision for the Treaty and see if the vision and the offer from the government were on the same page.

"In August 2001, we presented a .preliminary report to ANND, but it :doesn't look like Canada and Ontario have enough in their mandate," he said. "We convince them to go to the table with an enriched mandate and we have to make sure we develop fully because we have a better idea of what we want."

It was after hearing these recommendations that the chief and council decided to pull out of ANND, and since that time there has not been a representative of Pikwakanagan on ANND.

The community has been dealing with this land claim issue for generations. The claim is based on Algonquin use and occupation of lands in the Ottawa Valley. The Algonquins of Pikwakanagan submitted a formal claim in 1983 for a 34,000 square kilometre area in Ontario's Ottawa River Valley watershed, between Mattawa and L’Original. Although the land claim involves and area largely covered by treaties, the Algonquins never signed a treaty or have taken treaty benefits. Ontario initiated negotiations in June 1991 and Canada joined the negotiations in December 1992.

In August 1994, all negotiators for all parties signed a framework for, negotiations.

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