Last updated Dec 13 2005 07:35 AM PST
An environmental group has bought the trophy hunting rights in one of the most valuable guide outfitting territories in B.C. ending the shooting of bears and wolves in a 20,000-square-kilometre area of B.C.'s Central Coast by foreign hunters.
The Raincoast Conservation Society spent $1.35 million to buy out Bella Coola Guide Outfitters, which had the exclusive trophy hunting rights in the area known as the Great Bear Rainforest.
Society director Ian McAllister says the wilderness around Bella Coola has "globally rare" wildlife.
"It's an area where the [white] spirit bear is found. It's some of the largest grizzly and black bears in Canada. It's just one of those spectacular places on the planet."
But the purchase doesn't mean an end to all hunting in the area. McAllister says B.C. residents will still be entitled to hunt in the territory.
"People shouldn't get confused with this as a hunting versus anti-hunting issue. It's not that at all. It's strictly focused on the sport hunting of large carnivores like bears and wolves."
The Raincoast Conservation Society and First Nations groups now plan to develop a new wildlife photography industry to offset the loss of income from foreign hunters.
McAllister says the $1.35 million was a lot of money to raise, but notes none of it came came from government.
"The interesting thing is this didn't take a single taxpayers' dollar, and the vast majority of it was raised (and) supported by Canadian individuals."
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