Here is our open letter to Premier Clark:
Dear Premier Clark,
I’m writing to ask for your leadership to ensure the final needed steps are taken to create a sanctuary for BC’s spirit bear for BC’s families – and families around the world.
The white Kermode or spirit bear, as you know, is a genetically unique subspecies of the black bear that is unique only to BC’s central coast and numbers fewer than 400. This endangered bear plays a critical role in our world because of its colour, upholding through the nutrient cycle one of the largest land carbon sinks in the world.
Though remarkable progress has been made to ensure the future of the Kermode subspecies, two hurdles remain.
Less than 200 times the size of Vancouver’s Stanley Park, the Green-Sheep Passage/Tolmie Operating Area is the final, unprotected third of the spirit bear’s habitat: it must be protected in order to sustain the delicate ecological balance that produces this rare bear.
Additionally, while it is illegal to hunt the white Kermode bear, within 98% of its range, including protected areas, it is legal to hunt the black Kermode bear that carries and produces the unique white gene – a direct threat to the survival of the subspecies. The creation of a trophy hunting sanctuary for all bears is needed in this one area in order to maintain the genetic diversity of the population.
I know it is possible for logging and hunting to occur and the bear to survive; but it is equally possible that logging, combined with trophy hunting in this one area, will set in motion unintended, irreversible consequences that will, over a generation, lead to the extinction of the white bear.
I believe that when speaking of the very last chance to save a bear worth its weight in gold and critical to a globally important ecosystem, we must err on the side of caution, especially when a more viable economic alternative is available.
Conservatively, The Spirit Bear animated movie proposed by the Spirit Bear Youth Coalition is projected to be able to inject tens of millions of dollars into the region to help erase the human resource and infrastructure deficit that is widely believed to be preventing any hope of economic revitalization. The funds would exceed any bank loan, government hand-out, and potential profit from developing the ecosystem and allowing the coastal bear trophy hunt to continue.
The potential investment could build and sustain a viable tourism industry, develop the emerging sea shell aquaculture industry, create long-term conservation-based jobs, and launch a value-added, community-run forestry operation in areas other than this bear’s critical habitat. And then, off course, there is the ability to use the protected forest to offset carbon emissions – a multi-million dollar industry.
The Spirit Bear Youth Coalition has a track record of being positive, cooperative, engaged, and pragmatic; not one of being alarmists or dogmatic ideologues in addressing this issue. The movie has the potential to generate more profit for the affected First Nation community than logging in an area that amounts to .003% of the entire coast’s operating area, but development is money now.
Please work with all stakeholders to establish BC’s first major wildlife sanctuary, as desired by the Coastal First Nations, in order to safeguard all bears on the BC north-central coast from trophy hunting and, in the doing, help protect the Kermode gene pool.
Moreover, I ask that you help facilitate a dialogue with the appropriate stakeholders to identify a financial target for the CGI movie to meet that would, if successful, allow for the protection of the Green-Sheep Passage/Tolmie Operating Area and, thus, the spirit bear.
I know you have committed to creating a new era of civic engagement and consultation – and promised to put BC families first on your agenda. Creating a sanctuary for the spirit bear is a family values issue and supported by more than 85% of British Columbians. By taking the necessary leadership to protect the final unprotected third of the spirit bear habitat and stopping the coastal bear trophy hunt you will uphold the commitments you have made and create a legacy for all families the world over.
My thanks for your consideration.
D. Simon Jackson
Founder and Chairman, Spirit Bear Youth Coalition