HAMILTON – Deer harvesting has been a long-standing tradition of the Haudenosaunee, dating back thousands of years and serving an important role in their way of life. With regards to the Dundas Valley Conservation Area (DVCA), the Nanfan Treaty or the Treaty at Albany of 1701 give the Haudenosaunee the right to harvest and fish in this area.
In 2011, the Ontario Ministry of Aboriginal Affairs recognized and fully supported this treaty and encouraged the Hamilton Conservation Authority (HCA) to continue collaboration with the Haudenosaunee. The HCA recognizes the importance and validity of the Nanfan Treaty and also respects the important cultural role that deer harvesting plays in the Haudenosaunee’s way of life.
In 2011, the HCA’s Board of Directors authorized entering into an agreement with the Haudenosaunee Wildlife and Habitat Authority (HWHA) to establish a protocol regarding deer harvesting on HCA owned lands. An agreement was made and continues to be in effect, allowing the HWHA to harvest a set number of deer in selected parts of the DVCA.
On the need for such an agreement, HCA Chair Brian McHattie states, “The treaty rights are valid, and the Haudenosaunee have the right to hunt as they wish. The protocol clarifies our mutual intentions and protects both parties, as well as the public.”
“The HCA and the HWHA would be in continuous contact with the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and the Hamilton Police Services to secure their cooperation towards ensuring public safety,” said Chris Firth-Eagland, HCA’s Chief Administrative Officer. “The HWHA will be using traditional methods only, such as archery equipment, and not firearms or methods involving dogs, feed bait or jack-lighting” added Firth-Eagland.
Brian Skye of the HWHA says, “We’re confident that we have been able to find a place where it is safe for our hunters to go; where we can exercise legal traditional rights carefully; where, as a result of there being no other hunters, the deer population has become such that it is damaging the balance of the local ecosystem. And we’re grateful that we are able to work with partners who share our ecological values. Of course, we intend to conduct the harvest safely, humanely and consistent with best conservation practices. And the deer taken will go to longhouses for ceremonies and to elders, as well as to feed hunters’ families.”
The number of deer to be harvested is limited at 60 deer. The Hamilton Police Services and Ministry of Natural Resources Enforcement staff have been consulted with respect to public safety and advised of the closure. Appropriate trail signage and notification to adjacent residents will be provided about the closure and relocation. Harvesting will only occur on HCA-owned lands on Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays between November 17 and December 11 of 2014 and on Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays between January 5 and January 15 of 2015.
Copies of the Protocol, Specific Agreement and notification documents are available at www.conservationhamilton.ca.