The Chief of the Big Island Lake Cree Nation has been found guilty of unlawfully hunting a bull moose in February 2020 without the required hunting license to do so.
In a recent court decision, Chief David Sandfly concedes that he was actively hunting for moose on Feb. 16, 2020, and in fact shot one near the roadway of the East/West Road, near kilometer 77, north of Meadow Lake Provincial Park. However, this portion of the East/West Road is clearly designated as a Road Corridor Game Preserve (RCGP) by the Province, and hunting is prohibited within 400 meters of either side of the center line of the road.
The RCGP was created to conserve wildlife population. Moose population numbers were in decline in that area due to forestry access roads, making it easier to hunt. Once the RCGP was created, moose populations rebounded.
At trial it was heard that no licenses were issued for the conservation area. The defense argued that Sandfly had a Treaty Right to hunt in the preserve. He admits during his testimony that he was hunting for moose after being asked to provide traditional food for a community feast.
Judge Michael Segu found that Sandfly “stopped his vehicle on the roadway, loaded his firearm, and exited the truck. A cow and two calves began running. When the bull moose turned to run, Chief Sandfly shot it twice. After the second shot, the bull moose ran across the East/West road, where it died on the south side of the road,” his decision read.
Sandfly’s defense presented that the creation of the RCGP’s directly infringed on Treaty Rights for hunting, Yet, Segu noted that the sole-purpose of the RCGP was to conserve wildlife, as hunting is strictly prohibited.
He concluded that Treaty Rights were violated. “Chief Sandfly had no right of access to the occupied Crown land,” Segu wrote. “Given the finding that there was no right of access, the accused has not established a prima facie infringement of a Treaty right.”