Applied conservation science helps inform and empower local decision-making

Recent projects highlight a couple recent and tangible ways in which our research supports not only human-wildlife coexistence but also renewed self-determination by Indigenous governments.

Should a sockeye salmon enter a fishing net or be left in stream to feed the grizzlies with which the Wuikinuxv First Nation have an enduring relationship? According to the Wuikinuxv, and drawing on recent work together, both humans and bears will be considered in salmon management.

´n`a´nakila is the Wuikinuxv principle that roughly translates as ‘to look ahead for someone’. As the collapsed Wuikinuxv (Rivers Inlet) sockeye run rebuilds, the Wuikinuxv Nation is determined to align their Food, Social, and Ceremonial harvest with sustainability targets that allocate enough salmon to support a thriving grizzly population.

Recent research in which Raincoast’s Applied Conservation Science lab helped design a harvest strategy that looks ahead for Wuikinuxv bears. A quantitative analysis of long-term salmon and bear data revealed that bears could maintain high (salmon-fueled) densities if sockeye harvests were about 10% less than the ‘optimum yield’. Optimum yield is a typical fisheries science target that does not consider ecosystem recipients of salmon returns. 

A culturally-enlightened and ecosystem-based approach is unprecedented in modern-day salmon management.

Bears and people – similarly shaped by the landscape

Knowing that bears and people have shared resources and landscapes for millennia, we reasoned that there might be a genetic signal to such a deep relationship. Working with the Nuxalk, Haíɫzaqv, Kitasoo/Xai’xais, Gitga’at, and Wuikinuxv First Nations, our recent analysis revealed three genetic groups of bears, which spatially aligned with Indigenous language families in the region. Notably, the borders of the bear groups did not align with management designations as identified by the provincial government, which divides an otherwise genetically continuous population into two. 

Our work draws on our lab’s values

These two recent projects highlight a couple recent and tangible ways in which our research supports not only human-wildlife coexistence but also renewed self-determination by Indigenous governments. Indigenous nations craft evidence-based policy to protect the future of their lands, waters, and resources. Our partnered research complements their own local knowledges to form needed evidence.

Doing work in this way draws on our lab values, which includes commitments to evidence-based policy, environmental and social justice, mutually beneficial partnerships, and informed advocacy.

In 2022, we look forward to continuing a legacy of providing evidence that helps to inform and empower local governments that safeguard nature.

To celebrate the end of the year, we are so happy to be able to offer matching campaigns on two of our most pressing fundraising initiatives.

All donations to both the Southern Great Bear Rainforest tenure acquisition and our KELÁ_EKE Kingfisher Forest initiative, will be matched until the end of the year. This is a great opportunity for our supporters, like you, to make your impact go twice as far, while benefiting from tax deductions.

Help us secure KELÁ_EKE Kingfisher Forest on S,DÁYES (Pender Island). Together with Pender Islands Conservancy, Raincoast is raising $2.18 million to purchase a 45 acre coastal property on the edge of the Salish Sea.

Safeguarding Coastal Carnivores in the Southern Great Bear Rainforest tenure. We are currently raising funds to stop commercial trophy hunting in more than a quarter of the Great Bear Rainforest in British Columbia.