A significant victory was recently celebrated by the Raincoast Conservation Foundation. The Canada-based conservation group raised $1,920,000 after two years of fundraising to purchase the hunting rights to over 25% of British Columbia's Great Bear Rainforest. By doing this, they intend to stop the commercial trophy hunting of animals, thus safeguarding the native wildlife of the region, which includes wolves, cougars, and grizzly bears.
Situated roughly six hours north of Vancouver, the purchase encompasses 18,000 square kilometres, or 6,949 square miles, of the Great Bear Rainforest. Raincoast's guide outfitter coordinator, Brian Falconer, says, "As I reflect on the accomplishments of this project, it feels really good to reflect on the thousands of individual animals over many generations who are alive today because of it." "Considering the significant impact it has had in creating thriving, diverse coastal ecosystems also makes me feel incredibly fulfilled."
The long-term objective of the Raincoast Conservation Foundation is to completely eradicate commercial hunting in the region. They contend that it is more economically sustainable in addition to being better for the environment. The group points to a 2014 Stanford University study that showed that, in comparison to hunting, bear-watching generated 12 times more revenue and employed 27 times more people. "We buy these tenures with an eye toward a more sustainable economy—wildlife viewing and eco-tourism," says Raincoast Executive Director Chris Genovali. "This sector has received significant support from the acquisition of these tenures, which will be crucial in the shift to a new, non-extractive economy."
Local hunters argue that the purchase amounts to "abusing" commercial licensing, while conservationists are thrilled about it. According to Robin Unrau, president of Hunters for B.C., conservation efforts would be better directed toward protecting habitat. However, ethical hunting can contribute to the preservation of a healthy biodiversity. "There are always two sides to a story," says Unrau, "if environmental or conservation organisations don't really look at the big picture, which is the habitat." "I believe it is a failure on our part to look at that for the wildlife if we are unable to do so."