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Located along Canada’s Pacific coast, the Great Bear Rainforest, spanning 21 million acres, boasts some of the world’s most spectacular landscapes. As one of the largest temperate rainforests on Earth, its majestic mountains, forests, fjords, and waterways are home to thousands of species of birds, plants and animals –including grizzlies, black bears and spirit bears.

With the name Great Bear Rainforest, one might think of this vast wilderness area in British Columbia as a safe haven for bears, especially the grizzly, which once roamed widely across North America. However, trophy hunters have set their sights on the vulnerable animals, shooting them for entertainment.

Now, the Humane Society Wildlife Land Trust and other animal protection and conservation groups are joining forces with Coastal First Nations in a historic campaign to protect bears from cruel and unsustainable trophy hunts in British Columbia’s Great Bear Rainforest.

“The Wildlife Land Trust is honored to be able to support the Coastal First Nations in this important initiative to protect wildlife and habitat,” says Robert W. Koons, Executive Director.  “The complexity and scope of the Great Bear Rain Forest demands visionary thinking and action.  The campaign to end trophy hunting of bears is one piece of the mosaic.  And we are heartened by the broad support indicated by the recent poll of residents of British Columbia, which found that more than 78 percent of British Columbians oppose the trophy hunting of bears in the Great Bear Rainforest.”

Conservationists know that hunting poses a threat to bear populations, noting that of the 430 grizzly bears killed in BC in 2007, 87 percent were killed by trophy hunters. Bears are often gunned down by trophy hunters near shorelines as they forage for food in the spring and fall, in some cases only days after bear viewing operations have left the area. Black bears are also at risk. The BC coast has one of the greatest diversity of black bears subspecies in North America, ranging from the spirit bear (kermode subspecies) to the Haida black bear.

According to a 2009 Ipsos Reid poll, 78 percent of British Columbia residents oppose trophy hunting of bears in the Great Bear Rainforest.

Kitasoo/Xaixais Chief Percy Starr is disappointed that all species of bears in their Traditional Territory are not protected. "We've spent years to ensure our lands are protected, only to learn that trophy hunters can continue to come on our lands and kill bears for sport."

"It's not right that anyone should make a sport of killing," said Guujaaw, a spokesperson for Coastal First Nations. "Bears are as much a part of the environment as we are."

Trophy hunting is also negatively impacting BC's lucrative ecotourism industry, as bears generate more income for coastal communities alive than dead. "Each bear killed is one less bear that tourists will pay top dollar to photograph," said Dean Wyatt of the Commercial Bear Viewing Association. "Viewers come back year after year to watch the same bears and their young develop and grow. Only a total ban on trophy hunting will ensure that bear populations can support the high-end viewing operations that add valuable income to coastal communities."

In order to expand the scope of HSWLT’s influence and effectiveness for the benefit of wildlife, we frequently share funds, expertise and HSWLT’s humane philosophy with other organizations.  All HSWLT shared efforts are rooted in our commitment to providing wildlife with safe places to live, forever, by assisting other organizations that share our concerns for wildlife and habitat. 

Our partners on this project include:

Humane Society International/Canada is a leading force for animal protection, representing tens of thousands of members and constituents across the country. HSI/Canada has active programs in companion animals, wildlife and habitat protection, marine mammal preservation and farm animal welfare. HSI/Canada is proud to be a part of Humane Society International—one of the largest animal protection organizations in the world, with more than ten million members and constituents globally—on the web at hsicanada.ca. 

The Coastal First Nations is an alliance of First Nations on British Columbia's North and Central Coast and Haida Gwaii. Our goal is to restore responsible land, water and resource management approaches on the Central and North Coast of British Columbia, and Haida Gwaii that are ecologically, socially and economically sustainable. We have developed partnerships with environmental groups, the federal and provincial governments, municipal leaders, industry and other interests to begin the move to a new conservation-based economy with increased First Nations involvement through strong leadership and vision. Members of the Coastal First Nations include Wuikinuxv Nation, Heiltsuk, Kitasoo/Xaixais, Holmalco, Gitga'at, Haisla, Metlakatla, Old Massett, Skidegate, and Council of the Haida Nation. 

Pacific Wild is a BC-based non-profit society dedicated to wilderness and wildlife conservation. We work in partnership with a diverse group of organizations and individuals working to achieve lasting environmental protection. Pacific Wild founders and staff have been working on marine and terrestrial environmental campaigns in British Columbia for two decades. 

 

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