Safeguarding coastal carnivores – Kitlope success

Aerial view of winding blue Kitlope Lake through green banks towards snow capped mountains

In October of 2020, we reached a significant milestone in our efforts to end all commercial trophy hunting of coastal carnivores in the Great Bear Rainforest. We successfully raised $650,000 to purchase the Kitlope commercial hunting tenure.

At 5300 km2, this tenure encompasses the entire Huchsduwachsdu Nuyem Jees / Kitlope Heritage Conservancy, and surrounding area. The conservancy is truly spectacular and protects the largest expanse of intact coastal temperate rainforest in the world. Our acquisition of commercial hunting rights adds critical protection for the Kitlope’s wolves, bears and wolverine, as well as mountain goats, in line with the wishes of the Haisla community and Xenaksiala elders like the late legendary statesman Wa’Xaid, Cecil Paul Sr.

We drew donations from all over BC, Canada, the US, and internationally with support from as far as Australia, Austria, Germany, India, Sweden, the United Kingdom, and United Arab Emirates. We were also grateful to Vancouver Island based conservation photographers, Cristina Mittermeier and Paul Nicklen, and their organization SeaLegacy. Their vocal support brought a flurry of attention that pushed us over the finish line.

With our previous tenures combined, Raincoast now controls the commercial hunting rights in more than 38,000 km2 of the BC coast – an area larger than Vancouver Island or the entire country of Belgium. We are already marshalling resources to buy the remaining tenures in the Great Bear Rainforest.

A hero lost to this world

While we celebrate, it is with extreme sadness that we also acknowledge the passing of Wa’Xaid. It is not possible in this small space to describe how his wisdom, integrity, clear vision, and his quiet powerful stories had such a deep and lasting impact on all of us at Raincoast.

The battle to protect the Kitlope Valley in the early 1990s brought us together as our “chosen family” and his counsel served to define Raincoast. In his book, Stories from the Magic Canoe, he explained how his canoe could make room for anyone who would paddle on the journey together. The deep, respectful, and collaborative relationships that we are privileged to have with First Nations communities on the coast are rooted in his counsel.

Cecil Paul in a hat and glasses against a white background.
Photo by Alex Harris/ Raincoast Conservation Foundation

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