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The province says they are setting limits on First Nation hunting outfitters due to sustainability.

Earlier this week the FSIN Assembly in Saskatoon voted in favour to reject the province’s export permit policy. This policy requires hunting outfitters to obtain permits before exporting any wildlife trophies across the border.

At issue for the chiefs in assembly was the limiting of these permits. When the policy was issued in 2007 there were no limits, however, recently the Ministry of Environment began imposing limits on the number of permits. Some First Nation outfitters are claiming this is affecting their business with American clients.

Kevin Murphy, Assistant Deputy Manager with Resource Management at the ministry, says the export permit policy was originally put in place to simply measure how many animals were being harvested in certain areas. He says limits were put in place because they saw a steady increase in the number of permits being used.

“They were essentially exceeding the carrying capacity for the number of animals that can be taken on First Nations,” said Murphy. “Since determining this we have approached First Nations with the concept of putting a cap on the number of permits that would be a sustainable level.”

Murphy says they have approached individual First Nation bands with this idea and he says they have had some positive conversations so far. The Ministry Spokesperson hopes to continue these conversations going forward.

“We are hoping that what we can do is come to a mutual agreement about the number of animals that will be harvested at a sustainable level, so we can support the hunting outfitting operations on First Nations and the overall sustainability of wildlife populations in Saskatchewan,” he said.

Murphy wanted to be clear that this policy in no way affects treaty rights of First Nation and Metis people to hunt for sustenance and only affects commercial hunting operations.

While the conversation continues, FSIN Chief Bobby Cameron believes this could be an issue of contention between First Nation outfitters and the province during the upcoming hunting season.