Conservation group buys hunting rights in British Columbia rainforest

The Sydney-based Raincoast Conservation Foundation said Thursday it raised $1.92 million over two years to buy the rights from hunters covering about a quarter (or 18,000 square kilometers) of the Great Bear Rainforest in the northern and central coast of the province.

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VICTORIA – A conservation group says its latest purchase of exclusive hunting rights in a British Columbia rainforest is an important step toward protecting the area’s wildlife, but hunters say the move is an “abuse” of the system of licenses.

The Sydney-based Raincoast Conservation Foundation said Thursday it raised $1.92 million over two years to buy the rights from hunters covering about a quarter (or 18,000 square kilometers) of the Great Bear Rainforest in the northern and central coast of the province.

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Raincoast guide coordinator Brian Falconer said the group has completed all aspects of the purchase except for the physical transfer of hunting licenses, a process that is being completed.

The province confirmed in a statement that it received the request to transfer the certificate and that the transaction was being reviewed.

Falconer said they will continue to purchase more hunting rights to achieve the ultimate goal of completely eliminating commercial trophy hunting in the Great Bear Rainforest.

The purchase makes Raincoast the largest hunting tenure holder in British Columbia, covering more than 56,000 square kilometers.

“Literally hundreds of animals every year, including particularly trophy species like grizzly bears, black bears, wolves and mountain lions, those are the true trophy species, and they’re not being killed now,” he said.

He said it ensures there are healthy populations of animals, particularly carnivores, throughout the Great Bear Rainforest.

Raincoast has been purchasing hunting rights in the province since 2005, after a 2001 moratorium on grizzly bear hunting passed by an NDP government was revoked when the Liberals were elected to government.

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The province banned grizzly bear hunting again in 2017 after the NDP returned to power, but Falconer said Raincoast will continue its efforts because there are many other species the group can protect by controlling hunting holdings.

“We are required to conduct hunts to maintain these territories right now,” Falconer said.

“We haven’t had much success on those hunts, so the harvest rate has gone down to zero on those properties,” he said. “We just have very, very poor hunters.”

In lieu of commercial hunting, Raincoast has been encouraging ecotourism in the regions where they have tenure, another intentional move that Falconer said is intended to showcase the economic potential of a sustainable wildlife-based industry.

“It’s lighting the way to a new conservation-based economy that doesn’t depend on killing and extracting things,” he said.

Raincoast’s purchases, however, have upset the group Hunters for BC, which says the move amounts to abusing business licenses to stifle legal hunting activities.

The group’s president, Robin Unrau, said the ban on grizzly bear hunting in 2017 put several outfitters in a difficult financial situation, giving conservation groups like Raincoast the opportunity to buy hunter holdings with the plan not to. hunt.

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“Whether they take them out hunting physically or just on paper to look good, it should be better written that a hunting tenancy is for the purpose of hunting and not, as we say, just make the motion on paper and use this. propaganda,” Unrau said.

He said the move to limit commercial hunting also fails to address the key challenge facing species like the grizzly bear, which is habitat protection.

Unrau said hunting, when done responsibly, is actually a key tool in maintaining biodiversity and balance in a given region, and Hunters for BC are members of the Fish, Wildlife and Habitat Coalition who play a role in conservation efforts.

“Protectionism is fantastic,” he said. “It has to have its time and place.

“There are always two sides to a story; if conservation organizations or environmental groups decide not to really look at the big picture, which is habitat. “If we are not able to address this, I think it is a failure on our part for wildlife.”

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