I have always loved animals and have been fascinated with nature and its vast complexities. Everything in nature is perfect and flawless, from the smallest organism to the largest creature. My beliefs are that if one can not create an animal, one should not destroy it. All life is precious on this planet and should be respected, understood, and loved.
My love of animals and nature could only lead in one direction, to a life of adventure in the outdoors. I am very thankful for the privilege to observe the Khutzeymateen Grizzlies and share their fascinating world.
I originally built the sailing yacht “Sunchaser” from 1970 – 1974 to sail the South Seas. With the arrival of three sons, the South Pacific was permanently put on hold. Alternatively, I undertook extensive exploration of British Columbia’s coast. This exploration ultimately lead to my involvement with grizzly bears and the preservation of the Khutzeymateen. The “Sunchaser” has played a big part in my life, as well as in the birth, development, and present status of the Khutzeymateen Grizzly Bear Sanctuary.
My involvement with the Khutzeymateen began in the mid 1980’s when Wayne McCrory spearheaded the “Save the Khutzeymateen” campaign. Wayne had the foresight to see the potential long term destruction and loss of this naturally valuable inlet. The fragile ecosystem of the inlet was being destroyed by extensive helicopter logging. There was no part of the Inlet above 200 meters that had not been totally clear cut. Stumps and slash left by logging were a constant reminder of the urgency to save the remaining untouched inlet. The Khutzeymateen watershed, from the estuary to the headwaters of the river, was still relatively untouched. The area hosted a variety of old growth forest including massive alluvial spruce, hemlock, larch, and alder. A tree farm license had been issued, but not yet a cutting permit. The Khutzeymateen and
its grizzlies had some time on their side, but Wayne would have to move fast to begin the process to save this national treasure.
Wayne banded together a team of like-minded people who were ready to work hard for the Khutzeymateen cause. I was approached to become part of the project. I would supply my knowledge of the area, and my yacht “Sunchaser” as a home base for Wayne and his associates while they performed research in the area.
Although I had been exploring the coast of British Columbia for the previous 10 years and had many experiences with bears before meeting McCrory, he was the inspiration that would cement my relationship solidly with the grizzly bear. I would acquire a wealth of knowledge from this incredible man, who himself would continue his education while bringing the Khutzeymateen and its grizzlies to the present day sanctuary. In this paradise we were all filled with inspiration and new knowledge observing the amazing grizzlies that inhabited it.
During the campaign to save the Khutzeymateen, Wayne and his associates conducted studies in the estuary that were necessary to prove grizzly habitat must be kept intact to ensure the species survival. At the same time, I would study the bears that resided on the grassy knolls of the inlet. Not an official study, but my own studies of the bears in their habitat as I saw them. For me, this was the real classroom to understand this amazing species. Alone for hours, I would watch the grizzlies, and enjoy their antics. I would learn their ways and habits while earning their trust and respect. I gained a knowledge and understanding of this magnificent creature that would never
end and continues to build even to this day.
Back home in the city of Prince Rupert, fifty miles south of the Khutzeymateen, there was always work to be done in regards to creating the sanctuary. Everyone involved dedicated hours of time to the cause. I would set up speaking engagements for Wayne with local organizations, these were important platforms to gain local support. He was received with positive enthusiasm. As Wayne spoke on the importance of grizzly habitat protection, the need to create Canada and the worlds first grizzly bear sanctuary became apparent to all. During this crucial time in the campaign, the support of Prince Rupert, a traditionally logging and mining based town, was critical.
As the “Save the Khutzeymateen” voices echoed around the world, the plight of the Khutzeymateen estuary and its grizzlies became a global concern. As a result the joyous victory also spread worldwide. People from around the globe took notice and requests for entry into this mysterious land began to roll in. Since the area was designated a grizzly bear sanctuary, limited entry with supervision was decided, the land now belonged to the grizzly bear and man was the visitor. To protect the land, bears, and ecosystem it was decided two guides would be issued permits to run tours to the Khutzeymateen Grizzly Bear Sanctuary. Because of our true devotion and love for the bears and the land, myself and Tom Ellison were chosen as the guides.
Over the years I have brought many people from all walks of life into the Khutzeymateen. There is a thread that ties us all together. One commonality that every one of us have, it is, that we all truly love the bears.
Every person who visits this mysterious land is touched by the hand of reality, a reality that has been lost in the hectic world we have created. The sheer beauty of the land and the love, respect, and trust of the bears penetrates deep into the hearts and souls of each human that visits the Khutzeymateen Valley. The peaceful silence of the sunrise, the towering old growth forest, salmon spawning in the fall, lupine and chocolate lily in spring bloom, and of course a grizzly mother and cub frolicking playfully in the summer sun. These are the reasons men and women cry when they must leave this incredible land.
All who visits the Khutzeymateen Valley are grateful for the victory won to preserve this magnificent land. Every person feels that the Khutzeymateen Valley should be cherish for eternity and the grizzlies should always be treated as our national treasure.