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Photo exhibit raises funds to protect Great Bear Rainforest carnivores

Catch One Shot for Coastal Carnivores at the Audain Art Museum on Dec. 8

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Many people in Whistler will never make the challenging trek to the Great Bear Rainforest to see its untouched wilderness and the coastal carnivores that call it home.

But a new photo exhibit, making a stop for one day at the Audain Art Museum on Saturday, Dec. 8, aims to bring a taste of the remote B.C. area to locals, while fundraising to protect its animals from trophy hunting.

One Shot For Coastal Carnivores features 13 photographs from renowned nature photographers—including Cristina Mittermeier, John Marriott and Karen Cooper—alongside their rising-star counterparts. Already, it's made stops in Vancouver at the Karen Cooper Gallery and in Victoria at the Robert Bateman Centre, attracting enough bids on the photographs to close in on its goal.

"The reason we got to Whistler is partly because the Audain Art Museum is such a beautiful space, but (also) we've been working with the Grizzly Bear Foundation that was established by Michael Audain," says Ross Dixon, communications and development director with the Raincoast Conservation Foundation, which organized the event.

To that end, the Whistler exhibit stop will also feature photos from Triggers to Tripods, an amateur photographer contest that the Grizzly Bear Foundation launched to celebrate the moratorium on the grizzly bear hunt in B.C.

"We thought it was a nice tie in," Dixon says. "We're great partners and friends with the Grizzly Bear Foundation."

The Whistler exhibit stop holds special significance for another reason: Dixon anticipates it will turn into a celebration for the exhibit reaching its fundraising goal.

"We want the event to be a celebration of success and announce the next step," he says.

The money—over $400,000—is going towards helping the environmental organization purchase the Nadeea tenure, a 2,350-square-kilometre area in the Great Bear Rainforest that contains major watersheds.

The one-time purchase means the organization can permanently eliminate commercial trophy hunting from the area. While the Government of B.C. banned Grizzly Bear hunting last year, the move protects the other coastal carnivores in the area.

"Grizzly bear hunting is currently banned—which is something we celebrate—but it could be overturned by a new government," Dixon adds. "We don't over exaggerate that as a risk, but political winds change. (Also) if you're a wolf, if you're a black bear—one carrying the spirit bear gene—if you're a wolverine, (the ban) is still irrelevant."

Dixon says Raincoast also works with Indigenous people in the area—the stewards of the land who also oppose non-resident trophy hunters. (The organization advocates for ecotourism over guide companies that lead non-residents on trophy hunts, arguing it's proven to create more revenue.)

Meanwhile, any funds raised past the goal amount will roll over into helping Raincoast purchase its next tenure.

"Lots of people will never go to the Great Bear Rainforest," Dixon says. "It's remote and difficult to access. But we can use the reach of these photographers and their ability to capture these individual animals to connect people to the idea of what we're doing."

One Shot for Coastal Carnivores takes place at the Audain Art Museum on Dec. 8 from 7 to 9:30 p.m. (You can also catch it on Dec. 9 until 4 p.m.)

Tickets for the event are $25 here. To view the photos and bid on them online visit https://www.raincoast.org/gallery.

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