Tension is mounting between hunters and Aboriginals at the six dams that the latter have installed in the La Vérendrye wildlife reserve to demand a moratorium on sports hunting for moose.
“They are taking the hunters hostage without explanation and without negotiation,” said Yannick Cloutier, who still hopes to track down the large deer in a few days.
At the present time, the 44-year-old man is said to be unable to get to his hunting camp since the entrance to the road leading to it from route 117, in the Outaouais region, is blocked by members of the Anishnabe nation.
Alarmed by the decline in the moose population on their territory, these Aboriginals mobilized to demand a suspension of the sport hunting of this animal and refuse to let the hunters pass at junctions 10, 13, 20, 25, 28 and 29 Route 117, which also leads to Abitibi-Témiscamingue.
“It was our elders who sounded the alarm. They told us, “It's time to do something about the original.” Says Casey Ratt, leader of the Algonquin community of Lac Barrière, located in the heart of the wildlife reserve, two hours northwest of Mont-Tremblant.
An aerial inventory carried out last winter by the Ministère des Forêts, de la Faune et des Parcs actually recorded 2.06 animals per 10 square kilometers, compared to 3.2 in 2008.
“[We] would like a five-year moratorium. After this time, there will be something for everyone, ”says Chef Ratt.
However, the ministry considers that such a measure would constitute “an inordinate means of controlling populations” of moose, according to its spokesperson, Catherine Ippersiel.
The Société des establishments de plein air du Québec has already reduced by 30% the number of hunting licenses on the territory of the wildlife reserve for this year.
“We consider that the management tools are excellent,” said Marc Plourde, CEO of the Federation of Quebec outfitters.
At the barricades, the atmosphere is tense. A hunter was arrested on Sunday after an altercation at one of the roadblocks, then released on conditions, confirms Sergeant Marc Tessier, of the Sûreté du Québec.
However, the massive arrival of hunters in the coming days could worsen the situation, fears Alain Cossette, at the head of the Quebec Federation of hunters and fishermen.
“You're going to have hundreds of pickups with armed fighters. I'm really afraid that it will degenerate, ”adds Mr. Cloutier.
Minister Pierre Dufour called for caution and dialogue between the parties, in addition to indicating in a press release that “the suspension of hunting is in no way envisaged” in the reserve.