Kitasoo Spirit Bear Conservancy
The World's Only Protected Area for the White Spirit Bear of BC's Coastal RainforestProtecting the natural habitat of the Spirit bear is a major achievement for the Kitasoo Xai'xais people and the conservation groups that worked tirelessly to give this bear a sanctuary from logging and hunting.
In the 1990's the Kitasoo Xai'xais and Gitga’at First Nations of BC's central coast became concerned about the fate of the rare and magnificent Spirit Bear. Working closely with the Valhalla Society and the Province of BC, together they jointly announced official protection on February 7, 2006 through the creation of 10 spirit bear habitat conservancies totaling 212.415 hectares. The largest of these conservancies is known as the “Kitasoo Spirit Bear Conservancy” comprised of 103,000 hectares of the Canoona River and the area of south Princess Royal Island including all of Laredo Inlet, a 30 km long fjord that runs up from the south end of the island.
The Kitasoo Spirit Bear Conservancy area is about halfway between Vancouver and Prince Rupert. Stunning fjords, mountains, and valleys rich in salmon and bears comprise the mainland area. Vast expanses of intact rainforest and remote inlets and rugged coast comprise the protected areas. The area hosts more than 50 salmon streams, approximately 120 Spirit Bears, 1200 Black bears, Grizzly bears and an incredible wolf-deer predator-prey system with up to 16,000 Sitka deer.
In the end, the 2006 protection of the Kitasoo Spirit Bear Conservancy Complex occurred not only as a result of First Nations support but an international campaign resulting from publicity generated by the Valhalla Society and many other groups and individuals. The Spirit bear became the international poster icon of the whole Great Bear Rainforest Campaign.