Commercial hunting has been affecting the population of grizzly bears in the region and this conservation group is out to stop that.
Poaching and hunting for sport have endangered wildlife and even led to the extinction of several species over the centuries. However, a conservation group has finally taken a brilliant step to curb the hunting activities in a British Columbian rainforest. The group revealed that they have purchased exclusive hunting rights in the rainforest, which is considered a major step taken towards protecting the biodiversity of the region, reports CBC News.
However, hunters have clapped back against this purchase by calling it an abuse of the licensing system. The conservation group known as the Raincoast Conservation Foundation, based in Sidney, British Columbia, released a brief announcement over an Instagram post that read, "With your help, we have completed the purchase of the Southern Great Bear Rainforest tenure! You came through! Over 700 contributions from around the world made this possible."
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The post further revealed that the region now owned by the foundation covers more than a quarter of the Great Bear Rainforest (18,239 km2). "Raincoast is the largest tenure holder in the province, with six tenures totaling over 56,000 km2. We are delighted to deliver this wonderfully positive message to begin 2024. Thank you for your help," the post from the foundation concluded by thanking the donors.
The foundation raised $1.92 million over two years to buy the rights from hunters that cover the vast area in the province's north and central coast, per the outlet. Brian Falconer, who works as Raincoast's guide outfitter coordinator, revealed that the "group has fulfilled all aspects of the purchase except the physical transfer of the hunting license, a process that is still underway." Falconer added that the foundation will continue to buy more hunting rights to achieve the goal of fully eliminating commercial trophy hunting from the region.
"Literally hundreds of animals every year, including particularly the trophy species like grizzly bear, black bear, wolves, cougars, those are the real trophy species, those are not being killed now," Falconer told the outlet. He states that it will ensure the maintenance of a healthy population of animals through the Great Bear Rainforest. The conservation group has been buying hunting rights in the area since 2005. The province banned hunting of grizzly bears in 2017 after the NDP government returned to power.
"We are required to do hunts to maintain these territories at this point," Falconer said. "We've been very unsuccessful at those hunts, and so the harvest rate has gone down to zero in those properties. We just have very, very poor hunters." The conservation group has been encouraging ecotourism instead of commercial hunting in the regions where they hold the tenure. "It is lighting the path to a new, conservation-based economy that is not dependent on killing and extracting things," he continued.
One of the hunting group's presidents, Robin Unrau, revealed that the ban on hunting grizzly bears in 2017 placed many outfitters in a financial crisis. "Whether they're taking them out hunting physically or whether it's just on paper to look good, it should be written better that a hunting tenure is for hunting and not as we say just going through the motion on paper and using this propaganda," Unrau said.
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In the words of Unrau, when hunting is done responsibly, it helps to maintain a balance in biodiversity. He claims that the conservation group's effort to limit commercial hunting isn't providing any solution for the grizzly population in the region. Unrau's Hunters for British Columbia group are members of the Fish, Wildlife and Habitat Coalition, which plays a role in conservation efforts. "Protectionism is fantastic," he added. "It has to have its time and place. There are always two sides to a story if conservation organizations or environmental groups choose not to look at the big picture, which is the habitat. If we're not able to look at that, I think it's a failure on all our part for the wildlife.''