FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. -- Proposed changes to hunting regulations in the spirit of reconciliation are raising questions about what is happening with the Peace Region moose population.

University of Northern British Columbia Professor Chris Johnson says the moose population is decreasing, increasing and stable in different areas but it’s more than just hunting affecting the population.

Projects like the Site C Hyrdoelectric dam affect the Peace River ecosystem including on the shores where moose are found. Johnson said "These are terrestrial animals. You flood their habit. That habit has very little value to them now."  

Johnson said bigger projects including Site C are significant to wildlife but he added smaller instances like resource extraction along with extreme weather can add up overtime. He said the number of moose in the Peace Region is contested because it depends on the scale you're looking at.

"So we know there are trends of moose of decline across that area generally. When we kind of zoom in on the wildlife management units where we set the harvest regulations the data suggests some moose are stable, some are increasing and some are decreasing," Johnson said.

According to Johnson there has been a reported decline across region seven and that's where the Horgan government is planning to reduce the moose hunt by half. In an effort to uphold treaty rights, the province is proposing the hunting cuts for a two year period.

Johnson said “some hunters in some places are going to have to give up some opportunities, but we've always managed moose populations and the harvest has gone up and down and up again through various places in B.C. overtime."

The B.C. government says they're changing the Wildlife Act to add Indigenous perspectives. The province says it marks a step towards upholding the Treaty 8 agreement

But that is also playing a role at the Site C project, as B.C. hydro remains in confidential discussions with West Moberly First Nations. That following an open letter last year from Chief Roland Willson where he said the dam project infringes on Treaty 8 rights to hunting.