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Twice a year trophy hunters descendon British Columbia's Great Bear Rainforest for the bear hunt. Standing against them are the nine member nations of Coastal First Nations, ready to peacefully uphold the ban on trophy hunting. So are 91% of British Columbians, who say it's time to protect our coastal bears, now and forever.

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Our latest blog posts are below:

Coastal Guardian Watchmen ready to uphold First Nations ban on trophy hunting

Posted September 12, 2013 3:56 PM

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With trophy hunters descending on BC's Central Coast for the opening of grizzly season, Guardian Watchmen patrol vessels from First Nations communities are once again heading out to monitor compliance with tribal law.

One year ago, the Coastal First Nations alliance announced a ban on killing bears for sport in the unceded territories of nine signatory nations. That ban remains in effect and extends protection to grizzlies, black bears, Kermode bears, and the genetically unique Haida black bear.

The Coastal Guardian Watchmen Network, a project of the Coastal First Nations, provides support to community Resource Stewardship Offices to monitor and protect their lands and waters. The stewardship offices are responsible for managing fisheries, marine use and land use planning, tracking referrals and other resource stewardship activities.

Responsibility to uphold the ban on trophy hunting falls in large part to Guardian Watchmen working on behalf of their Nations. Combining the duties of park rangers, search-and-rescue technicians, and field biologists, Guardian Watchmen are dedicated to protecting the health of coastal ecosystems and the communities that depend on them. With provincial and federal regulatory agencies facing dramatic cutbacks, Coastal Guardian Watchmen help fill the vacuum in monitoring for compliance on the coast.

This fall uniformed Guardian Watchmen will patrol known hotspots and document suspected trophy hunting activities. CGW personnel already record descriptions of hunting vessels, guides and hunters — details that can be tracked across the coast in real time, through a shared database.

In the course of their duties, Guardian Watchmen may approach suspected hunting vessels to provide education about the ban, and to encourage bear hunters to pursue other activities. If hunters persist, CGW personnel may warn bears out of target estuaries.

Coastal First Nations is an alliance working together to create a sustainable economy on British Columbia’s North and Central Coast and Haida Gwaii.

New poll shows overwhelming support for First Nations ban on trophy hunting in the Great Bear Rainforest

Posted September 04, 2013 10:16 AM

(VANCOUVER, BC, September 4 2013) ‐ Poll results released today show overwhelming public support for the year‐old ban on trophy hunting for bears in the Great Bear Rainforest. Introduced last September under the tribal laws of nine coastal First Nations, the ban enjoys the approval of 87 percent of British Columbians. 

“Today’s poll results confirm what we’ve always believed,” said Kitasoo/Xai’xais councillor Douglas Neasloss. “This issue does more than unite First Nations on the coast. It turns out British Columbians from all walks of life stand behind our communities, trusting indigenous people to lead the way on bear conservation.” 

The telephone poll, conducted by McAllister Opinion Research for the Coastal First Nations (CFN) Bear Working Group, asked 805 British Columbians across the province for their views on “trophy hunting for bears in the Great Bear Rainforest”. 87 percent agree the hunt should be banned. 78 percent of those surveyed say they are "strongly" in favour of the ban. 

"Public opinion on trophy hunting has shifted over the last five years," said McAllister Opinion Research president Angus McAllister. "In a poll conducted in 2008, our firm found 73 percent approval for a province‐wide ban on grizzly hunting. That number has now climbed to 80 percent. And when you ask people about bears in the Great Bear Rainforest, support for a trophy hunting ban rises even further". 

“The attitudes of hunters included in the sample are especially interesting,” said McAllister. “91 percent agree that their fellow hunters should respect First Nations laws and customs when on First Nations territory. And 95 percent of hunters agree that people should not be hunting if they're not prepared to eat what they kill.” 

After being shot, a bear's head, paws and skin are usually removed, with the meat left to rot. “This so‐called sport is a violation of First Nations laws and customs,” said Heiltsuk Coastwatch Director William Housty. “And this poll shows people across the province share these values. Trophy hunting for bears is wasteful and unfair.” 

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New website launches in support of First Nations ban on trophy hunting in the Great Bear Rainforest

Posted September 04, 2013 10:11 AM

VANCOUVER, BC, September 4 2013) ‐ Coastal First Nations is proud to announce the launch of www.BearsForever.ca, a project of the Central Coast First Nations Bear Working Group. "This website gives all British Columbians the chance to meet some of our real coastal bears, and speak up on their behalf," said Heiltsuk Coastwatch Director William Housty. "My son is four and he loves bears. I hope when he has kids, they still have a chance to see these beautiful, intelligent animals out there in the wild." 

“Bears are an essential part of our culture, and the coastal ecosystem,” said Nuxalk biologist and elected councillor Megan Moody. “Here in the Great Bear Rainforest, the salmon they carry into the forests is responsible for up to 80% of the nutrients in our huge old‐growth coastal trees. Whether we see it or not, all sorts of plants and animals rely on bears, including us as people.” 

“Right now, as young leaders, it’s our job to rebuild local economies damaged by the collapse of fisheries and logging,” said Kitasoo/Xai’xais councillor Douglas Neasloss. “We see ecotourism as a real opportunity. Wildlife viewing is a sustainable way to create local jobs, but not when trophy hunters are leaving bear carcasses in the same estuaries where we bring visitors.” 

“Bears are not trophies,” said outgoing Wuikinuxv Fisheries Director Jennifer Walkus. “They’re not a ‘natural resource’ to be shot and skinned and left to rot. They’re our neighbours, and they deserve to stay a living, breathing part of the BC Coast, now and forever.” 

Members of the public are invited to voice their support for the Coastal First Nations ban on trophy hunting by signing the pledge at www.BearsForever.ca

Coastal First Nations is an alliance of the Wuikinuxv Nation, Heiltsuk, Kitasoo/Xai’xais, Nuxalk, Gitga’at, Metlakatla, Old Massett, Skidegate, and Council of the Haida Nation, working together to create a sustainable economy on British Columbia’s North and Central Coast and Haida Gwaii. 

New film tells story of bear killed in violation of First Nations ban on trophy hunting

Posted September 03, 2013 4:55 PM

Last May, trophy hunters shot and killed a five-year-old grizzly bear in BC’s Kwatna estuary — an ancient First Nations village site midway between the central coast communities of Bella Bella and Bella Coola. The bear, nicknamed 'Cheeky' by local field technicians, was skinned and left to rot in a field. His head and paws were carried out past a sign declaring trophy hunting closed in the Great Bear Rainforest.

Cheeky the bear may have died the same way as 100 other bears every year in the Great Bear Rainforest. The difference is, this time there was a witness. 

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Bears Forever is a project of Coastal First Nations and the Central Coast First Nations Bear Working Group

CFN Kitasoo Nuxalk Heiltsuk Wuikinuxv