The old saying, “if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em” has taken on a new meaning here at Raincoast.
In an unprecedented move, Raincoast, with the support of coastal First Nations, has successfully purchased one of the largest exclusive commercial trophy hunting tenures in the province.
The license area covers over 20,000 square kilometres of coastal rainforest and runs from Princess Royal Island south to Cape Caution and east to Bella Coola. To put it in perspective, this guide outfitting territory is larger than Banff and Yellowstone National Parks combined; its wildlife rich habitat includes grizzly, black bear and the rare white spirit or Kermode bear, in addition to wolf, cougar and mountain goat populations. This region is also the core study area for much of Raincoast’s science based fieldwork.
The license purchase has been a long standing dream for many of us at Raincoast, and it follows years of controversy over the trophy hunting of large carnivores in the Great Bear Rainforest, including First Nations opposition to the sport hunt, a European Union ban on the importation of grizzly bear parts from BC , and wildlife viewing industry protests. In addition, we view this cutting edge initiative as part of a larger effort to create a conservation-based economy on the central coast.
In particular, this initiative supports First Nations commitment to protecting the Great Bear Rainforest’s wildlife. The Heiltsuk, Kitasoo, Xai’ xais, Wuikinuxv, Gwasala-Nakwaxdaxw and Nuxalk First Nations, who share traditional territories in the license area do not kill animals for sport or trophy. As Art Sterrit, head of the Coastal Nations Turning Point initiative, stated, “Trophy hunting is sacrilegious to First Nations, we only kill out of necessity”.
I can already hear the chorus of old school trophy hunting apologists chiming in about the need to manage ungulates with wolf kill programs and the inevitable fear mongering that bears need to be “harvested to protect people”, but shouldn’t we be taking the lead from those that have lived alongside the great species of bear and wolf for thousands upon thousands of years? “We hunt for need, not desire, and we have not had these problems before”, stated Chief Councillor of the Heiltsuk Nation, Ross Wilson.
Our heartfelt thanks go out to all those who responded so quickly and gave so generously to this purchase. This project’s success is a testament to how many people care deeply about protecting BC’s coastal wildlife.
Bella Bella, B.C.
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