There are an estimated half million metis in Canada, and many of them are avid and sophisticated hunters. In a worst-case scenario, metis could devastate bighorn sheep populations, for example, and mule deer populations, which become very vulnerable in late winter when they herd on wintering grounds. Moose populations could also be hurt.
The flashpoint province, as this issue goes to press, is Alberta, where officials are believed to have recently accepted a worst-case interpretation of the court ruling. There is an election coming up in Alberta as this is written, however, and politicians up that way are weaving and dodging and making it hard to get solid information. There is, in fact, a kind of conspiracy of silence at the moment on the issue of meti hunting and fishing privileges in Alberta. The unanswered questions include: Just who is a meti; and how unfettered will their rights be to take fish and game?
We've asked Western Canada correspondent Ken Nowicki to look into this issue for us on an emergency basis. In the meantime, we think the threat to fish and game is so serious, especially in a province like Alberta, that you need to bring it up to any would-be outfitter you contact. Pressure from paying hunters, if nothing else, should help push lawmakers to clarify what is going on. This is a serious issue. Stay tuned....