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Christmas Comes Early for Bears of the Great Bear Rainforest

Conservation Organization and First Nations Take Control of Coastal Trophy Hunt

For Immediate Release

 

December 13, 2005, Vancouver, BC: BC-based Raincoast Conservation Society, with the support of five coastal First Nations, has bought one of the largest trophy hunting licenses in North America in an unprecedented move to make conservation the primary objective in managing wildlife not sport or profit. 

 

No public funds were used for the purchase of the $1.35 million commercial license, which covers an area of more than 20,000 square kilometres of wildlife rich habitat, including grizzly bear, black bear and the rare white Spirit or Kermode bear, along with wolf, cougar and wolverine populations.

 

"Buying the commercial trophy hunting rights is a major first step towards shutting down the carnivore trophy hunt on the coast of BC,” said Ian McAllister, Conservation Director for Raincoast. “The next move is in the hands of the province.”

 

The license purchase follows years of controversy over the trophy hunting of large carnivores in the Great Bear Rainforest, including First Nations opposition to the sport hunt, decisive action by the European Union to ban the importation of grizzly bear parts from BC and threats of international boycotts from the tourism industry.

 

“We view this unprecedented initiative as part of a larger effort to create a conservation-based economy on the central coast,” said Wuikinuxv Nation chief Alex Chartrand. “Our value system does not support killing animals for trophies and our communities are working hard to develop a sustainable wildlife viewing industry.”

 

The wildlife-viewing sector in the Great Bear Rainforest is growing exponentially and represents increasing employment opportunities for coastal communities. "This will provide the necessary foundation for our communities to build a sustainable wildlife viewing industry,” stated Kitasoo/Xaixais band manager Percy Starr.  "Ending the resident trophy hunt is the next step."

Central Coast First Nations land use plans have formally endorsed an end to carnivore trophy hunting in traditional territories. "For over one hundred years the large carnivores of the BC central coast have been negatively impacted from commercial trophy hunting, today a new relationship is being forged between coastal wildlife and coastal communities," said Heiltsuk Chief Ross Wilson. 

 

“Promoting sustainable businesses like wildlife viewing makes economic sense – the tourism industry applauds the work of Raincoast and the coastal First Nations," said Eric Boyum, of BC Commercial Bear Viewing Association.  The license will be operated by Raincoast Outfitters Ltd., while Land Use Plans are negotiated with the Province. Individual donors from nine countries contributed to the license purchase, the vast majority came from Canadian sources. 

 

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For more information, contact:

  • Chief Alex Chartrand, Wuikinuxv Nation – 604.785.1196 cell; 1.866.902.0427
  • Chief Ross Wilson, Heiltsuk Nation – 604.813.3577, 250.957.2381
  • Eric Boyum, Coastal Bear Viewing Association – 604.812.9161
  • Ian McAllister, Raincoast (Vancouver) – 250.881.2235 cell; 250.655.1229
  • Chris Genovali, Raincoast (Victoria) – 250.655.1229

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