A 25 year history
As the only permanent solution to stopping the commercial hunting of carnivores was buying tenures, Raincoast began purchasing commercial trophy hunting tenures with our First Nations partners in 2005. We now own the commercial trophy hunting rights in approximately 39,000km2 of British Columbia’s Great Bear Rainforest. Our ultimate goal is to secure the rights to all commercial trophy hunting tenures on the BC coast.
Working with our First Nations partners, our goal is to permanently end commercial trophy hunting of all large carnivores in the Great Bear Rainforest.
A moratorium on grizzly hunting
In 2001, the Raincoast-led campaign to end the grizzly hunt resulted in a three-year province wide moratorium on killing grizzly bears. It was short-lived, however, as the BC government immediately reversed the moratorium in the summer of 2001 after being in effect for one spring hunting season. Recognizing that the incoming government had no interest in ending trophy hunting of grizzlies, Raincoast looked to a different strategy; the purchase of the commercial hunting tenures in the Great Bear Rainforest. Raincoast has a track record with big ideas. Given that the political landscape offered little hope for stopping trophy hunting of large carnivores, we pioneered a new approach to permanently saving bears and wolves.
The provincial government banned grizzly bear hunting in 2017, but trophy hunting for other species including wolves, black bears, cougars and wolverines is still allowed.
In an unprecedented move that gained global attention, in 2005, Raincoast, with our Coastal First Nations partners and supporters, purchased a 25,000 km2 commercial hunting tenure. This purchase ended commercial trophy hunting over a huge region of BC’s coast.
In 2012, we secured a second hunting tenure, the Spirit Bear tenure, supporting the Kitasoo/Xai’xais and Gitga’at First Nations. Covering 3,500 km2 this tenure encompassed virtually all the habitat of the rare Spirit bear. Despite a province-wide restriction on killing white-coated Spirit bears, killing black bears – that carry the recessive gene that causes the white coat – is allowed.
In 2016, we secured a third tenure in the Upper Klinaklini watershed. It covers 2,500 km2 and contains some of the most productive, intact, coastal and interior transition habitat for grizzly bears, black bears, wolves and moose.
In 2018, we secured the Nadeea tenure, 2,350 km2 covering some of the most iconic watersheds in the Great Bear Rainforest.
In 2020, we secured the 5300 km2 Kitlope tenure in Haisla territory. It encompassed the entire Kitlope Nuyem Jees Conservancy, the largest expanse of intact coastal temperate rainforest in the world.
In 2022, are working to purchase the 18,239 km2 Southern Great Bear Rainforest tenure. This tenure contains significant populations of grizzlies, cougars, wolves, and roosevelt elk. It contains six major coastal inlets, over ten major salmon river systems with estuaries, and countless smaller named and unnamed watersheds, from Smith Inlet to Toba Inlet. This purchase also exemplifies the new conservation economy, as there are more than 19 ecotourism companies here who undertake wildlife viewing, focussed on grizzly and black bears, and coastal wolves.
Economics of the grizzly hunt
Our economic report Crossroads: Economics, Policy, and the Future of Grizzly Bears in BC (PDF) showed that by 2003, grizzly bear viewing was already generating twice the annual revenue of all the guide outfitting associated with the grizzly hunt. As part of the Crossroads strategy, we collaborated with coastal eco-tourism businesses to establish the Commercial Bear Viewing Association of BC.
The 2014 study, Economic Impact of Bear Viewing and Bear Hunting in the Great Bear Rainforest of British Columbia (PDF), undertaken by the Centre for Responsible Travel (CREST), found that revenue from bear viewing far outstripped revenue from the grizzly hunt, providing more than 10 times the the employment, tourist spending, and government revenue compared to trophy hunting in the Great Bear Rainforest.
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commercial trophy hunting
Photo by Steve Woods.