Among his "evil quartet" of processes driving species extinction, prominent ecologist and author Jared Diamond included the recent phenomenon of over-hunting (or over-exploitation) as a major issue. The Sacred Headwaters of so-called British Columbia has in recent years become synonymous with the on-going battle between resource extraction and native land use rights in Canada but while mining has primarily been the focus of this, over-hunting has been an ever-present danger. Providing the starting points of the Stikine, Skeena and Nass Rivers - three of Western Canada’s most prominent salmon-bearing watersheds - the cultural and ecological importance of this area has been highlighted by a decade-long fight by the Tahltan First Nation to defend their traditional territory from a succession of mining giants including Shell Canada, Imperial Metals and Fortune Minerals. In a tremendous victory, a grassroots gathering of Tahltan elders and community members successfully denied plans for the extraction of coal-bed methane and anthracite coal from the Headwaters, resulting in a moratorium on mining in the area for 10 years.
But despite the Tahltan’s reprieve from mining, every year, the people of Iskut are forced to watch an influx of resident hunters remove truck after truck of moose antlers from what was once pristine ungulate habitat and the herds of moose and caribou that Tahltan once relied on as a staple food source have all but disappeared. While resource giants may have been evicted from the area, both the Tahltan’s way of life and the ecological foundation of this area are under threat from over-hunting. As each fall, droves of hunters descend on the area from all parts of the province, Tahltan community members are forced to fight for this land from which we all live downstream.