The syilx Nation — through the Penticton Indian Band (PIB) — is opposing the issuance of hunting tags for California bighorn sheep.
In a press release issued on Monday (Oct. 26), the PIB said local California bighorn sheep are considered a vulnerable at-risk species.
“They experience numerous and uncertain threats from disease (including a recent outbreak of Mycoplasma ovipneumoniae), forest development and encroachment, access development, land alienation, housing development, and grazing competition.”
They are also highly vulnerable and sensitive to human disturbance from recreation, livestock grazing, resource extraction and the degradation of their range habitats by noxious weed invasion.
“The issuance of hunting licenses without our community’s free, prior and informed consent has been an ongoing issue for many years,” said Chief Greg Gabriel. “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.”
Chief Greg Gabriel was elected as the new chief last week.
Stewardship of the unceded territory is very important to the syilx people, said Gabriel.
“The people of snpink’tn have a right and responsibility to take care of their tmixw relatives including yilíkwlxkn (male bighorn sheep) and scmíłc̓aʔ (female bighorn sheep),” said PIB 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 Band has previously undertaken measures to support and protect local bighorn sheep populations.
“In 2016, the Penticton Indian Band implemented a multi-year collaborative program to support local populations and work to rid them of a terrible disease — Psoroptes ovis — that was leading to significant population declines,” said Pepper.
“We have also completed forest enhancement programs designed to increase and improve habitat for bighorn sheep. These projects have had much success, but local sheep populations are still challenged and in need of support.”