Penticton Indian Band opposed to bighorn sheep hunting | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Penticton Indian Band opposed to bighorn sheep hunting

The Penticton Indian Band declared its opposition to hunting of Bighorn Sheep in the Okanagan in a press release issued this morning, Oct. 26, 2020.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED / Penticton Indian Band

The Penticton Indian Band wants to see an end to hunting of Bighorn Sheep, calling it a vulnerable, at-risk species.

Bighorn sheep in the Okanagan face numerous threats, including disease, forest development and encroachment, access development, land alienation, housing development and grazing competition, the band says. South Okanagan Bighorn sheep were recently part of an outbreak of Mycoplasma ovipneumoniae.

"The issuance of hunting licenses without our community’s free, prior and informed consent has been an ongoing issue for many years,” Chief Greg Gabriel said. “This is unacceptable; the Penticton Indian Band must be meaningfully and appropriately engaged regarding any and all decisions pertaining to the harvest of our tmixw within our unceded Territorial lands."

Penticton Conservation Officer James Zuchelli says there is currently a limited entry hunt for Bighorn sheep in the Okanagan. This year, 19 permits were issued for the hunt, which ran from Sept. 1 to Sept. 30.

The band issued a press release this morning, Oct. 26, in which it declared “stewardship of the unceded territory is very important to the syilx people."

The sheep are also highly vulnerable to human disturbance from recreation, livestock grazing, resource extraction and loss of habitat through noxious weed infestation.

“The people have a right and responsibility to take care of their relatives including (male bighorn sheep) and (female bighorn sheep),” said the band's Natural Resource Department director James Pepper. “Penticton Indian Band Elders and knowledge keepers have clearly stated that local bighorn sheep populations are not resilient enough to support provincially targeted harvest. The Penticton Indian Band, syilx Nation, does not approve or consent to the issuance of provincial hunting licenses that target bighorn sheep populations."

The band has undertaken protective and supportive measures towards bighorn sheep in the past, including implementation of a multi-year collaborative program to support local populations get rid of the Psoroptes ovis virus, a disease that was causing significant population declines.

Okanagan Bighorn Sheep face numerous threats and are an at-risk species, the Penticton Indian Band says.
Okanagan Bighorn Sheep face numerous threats and are an at-risk species, the Penticton Indian Band says.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED / Penticton Indian Band

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