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.