Binoculars Over Bullets

Grizzly Bears | Nimmo Bay

“Travelling – it leaves you speechless and then turns you into a storyteller.”

– Ibn Battuta

This is how we feel about observing grizzly bears in the wild – once you have witnessed their incredible majesty, you will also be inspired to share their story in a quest to keep the wild in the world.

The Great Bear Rainforest is home to towering old-growth, sheltered coves and salmon-filled rivers. Here, grizzly bears are a symbol of Canada’s remaining, unspoiled wilderness and observing them in their world is a life-changing experience. Worldwide, grizzlies are either extinct or at risk of disappearing. In Canada, humans are threatening the grizzly bear’s ability to survive due to poaching, habitat destruction, and unsustainable hunting practices.

Through a lottery process, run by the provincial government, hunters enter a draw for a grizzly bear license in a limited entry hunt (LEH). For the past three years, Nimmo Bay has been empowering hunters with a grizzly tag to save the bears rather than shoot them, to trade their bullets for a pair of binoculars, and to exchange their tag for a wilderness adventure.

“Since 2015, we have offered a three-night complimentary package at Nimmo Bay to hunters willing to turn in their coveted licenses. That campaign has been one of the most empowering and heart-warming we’ve done to date,” says Fraser Murray. There is already a lot of amazing work being done by Coastal First Nations and various conservation foundations within the region, and with Nimmo Bay’s unique position in both grizzly bear viewing and hunting territory, the idea for the “Bullets for Binos” program came to light. In a recent study, it was found that visitors spent $15-million on bear-viewing in the Great Bear Rainforest annually, whereas hunters spent $1.2-million. Attitudes are shifting against grizzly hunting in BC and now is the time to take action, before it is too late. We must protect these wildly magnificent animals for future generations.

“There is nothing more spectacular than spotting the elusive grizzly as they catch salmon in a rushing river in the midst of our great rainforest. I can attest, as do our many guests from all corners of the world.”

– Fraser Murray

This year, Nimmo Bay is hosting five people, along with their guest of choice, who have decided to give up their license and have promised to never hunt a grizzly bear, in exchange for a three-night adventure package at Nimmo Bay in the heart of the Great Bear Rainforest. 

Each of the five individuals who have forfeited their licenses have written a letter to us, at Nimmo Bay, stating what this unique opportunity means to them…

Dear Nimmo Bay,

Since receiving my Limited Entry Grizzly Bear Authorization in your region I have been convinced to relinquish my authorization and not consider grizzly hunting again as a result of two special opportunities.

The first convincing factor was an amazing opportunity to observe the majesty wild grizzly bears in a protected area (Denali National Park). They were very near an totally unafraid of humans. A hundred shots from a camera and leaving them for someone else to have the opportunity to enjoy them over again suddenly made so much more sense than one shot from a rifle.

The second was the remarkable offer of experiencing legendary Nimmo Bay in support of ceasing to hunt grizzlies. By coincidence, the dates offered coincide with my wife’s birthday. Looking forward to it being a fabulous memorable experience.

I have become a dedicated convert to protecting grizzly bears from trophy hunters.

Yours sincerely,

I have made the decision to trade in my bear tag in exchange for a trip to Nimmo Bay because ethically it is the right thing to do.

The Great Bear Rainforest is a delicate and complex ecosystem in which is rare to find in the world we live in today. Bears greatly impact the health of this ecosystem, as do these bears rely on this ecosystem to survive. Every species and their wellbeing depend on the next species. This includes humans as well – protecting these lands and preserving wildlife are some of the ways we can help protect the rainforest. Refusing to use a bear tag saves a bear’s life and has a much larger impact than many may think.

The opportunity to experience nature and the wilderness in a peaceful manner is far more appealing than participating in the Trophy hunt. I am thankful for opportunities like this as it brings awareness to the public, encourages education, and challenges policies to be changed surrounding the issue of trophy hunting and protecting the Great Bear Rainforest.

Because of these reasons, I will not hunt bears this year or in the future, and I am hoping this inspires others to do the same.


Having been a hunter since a young age I’ve always had an admiration for bears. I could never hunt bears as I do not enjoy the meat and I hunt strictly to feed myself and my family. Having the opportunity to stay at world class Nimmo Bay and view these bears in their natural habitat means so much more to me then hanging something on my wall. I’m thankful to Nimmo Bay for allowing me and my wife this chance to view these majestic creatures in the pristine wilderness they call home. 


After being unsuccessful in previous LEH draws I decided to take a chance at a grizzly bear tag. After finding out that I had been successful… I now had the large task of putting together a trip to go hunt the bear.  After reading an article of a hunter that turned his tag into a resort for a trip to go view the bear instead of hunting it… I became intrigued and looked into it a little more. I have decided to turn my bear tag into Nimmo Bay Resort in exchange for a chance to view the bear I could have hunted. I decided I would get more out of the viewing then I ever would from the hunt. I hope to see this beautiful animal in all its glory along with some beautiful West Coast landscape!


This letter is to confirm that I am willing to give up my Limited Entry Hunting Authorization Tag for grizzly bear hunting for my lifetime in return for a Nimmo Bay Resort excursion that was offered to me in this program.

I will no longer participate in the hunting of this species. I am also looking forward to trading in this tag for an adventure in the Nimmo Bay Resort. I will honor the request of this program to save the grizzlies from being hunted.


The Tide is Turning

In August, 2017, the BC government announced that all grizzly bear hunting in the Great Bear Rainforest will be banned and that all trophy hunting throughout the province will be prohibited, effective November 30, 2017. “There are an estimated 15,000 grizzly bears in British Columbia. Each year, approximately 250 are taken by hunters. While the trophy hunt will end, hunting for meat will be allowed to continue.” During the fall months, the “government will consult with First Nations and stakeholder groups to determine next steps and mechanisms as BC moves toward ending the trophy hunt.”

The Tide has Finally Turned

Through the consultation process with First Nations, stakeholder groups and the public, 78% of respondents recommended the hunt be stopped entirely. On December 18, 2017, the BC government announced that they would be “bringing an end to the hunting of grizzly bears throughout the province.” Grizzly bear hunting is now banned throughout BC, with the exception of First Nations who will maintain the right to hunt grizzlies for food, social and ceremonial purposes. The provincial government said that they “have listened to what British Columbians have to say on this issue and it is abundantly clear that the grizzly hunt is not in line with their values.”

At Nimmo Bay, we have always recognized the importance of protecting these majestic animals. We are celebrating, along with our grizzly bear friends, this momentous news!

What if bears themselves could be free to live as they were meant to, enjoying nature’s splendour and not fearful of gun-bearing humans?”

– Charlie Russell
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