Hunters and Gatherers is series looking at hunting and fishing in northern Ontario, how Indigenous rights can divide people, how some northerners find ways to share the resources and what sharing the land means for reconciliation.
Northern Ontario farmers frustrated with elk eating their crops have turned to Indigenous hunters for help. They are within their traditional rights to shoot the protected animals, while the non-Indigenous farmers like David Berry are not.
The horse farmer in Parkinson Township north of Iron Bridge is constantly trying to protect his hay fields from the huge herds of hungry elk that have popped up since the animals were reintroduced to Ontario by the government in 2001.
He says it’s hard to find a sympathetic ear at the Ministry of Natural Resources
“That is a lost cause. You get nowhere with that,” says Berry.
He and several other frustrated farmers along the North Shore of Lake Huron reached out to area First Nations and welcomed hunters onto their properties.
`They find it very strange that I can`t protect my own property“ Berry says of the Indigenous hunters who help him out with the elk.
`That helps. It`s not the solution, but it helps.“
Discrepancies between Ministry numbers and visible elk
Berry says that ministry surveys put the elk population in Parkinson at 46, but his neighbor has counted 120 on his farm alone.
“The MNR has to put more effort in understanding what’s going on with the elk. They brought them in here, they turned them loose,” Berry said.
“‘Well, we can’t help it if they come on your property’ well maybe they can’t, but they should have had a whole lot of foresight before they did what they did.”