Kitasoo Spirit Bear Conservancy
About This Conservancy
The Kitasoo Spirit Bear Conservancy is a large hyper-maritime area centered on Laredo Inlet, a long protected inlet on Princess Royal Island, the fourth largest island in BC. The area offers pristine, diverse environments ranging from sandy beaches, mountain peaks, lowland old-growth rainforests and fjords. The conservancy encompasses Canoona Lake and many small estuaries, wetlands, floodplains, and avalanche chute habitats. Reefs, pocket beaches, tiny sheltered bays and rich inter-tidal marine life characterize the diverse shorelines of the islands contained within this conservancy.
Numerous recreational opportunities exist in the diverse environments of Kitasoo Spirit Bear Conservancy. Visitors can spend time exploring the hiking trails on Swindle Island or beach combing the pocket beaches and shorelines. The conservancy offers good wildlife viewing opportunities; fortunate visitors may get a glimpse of the famous Kermode bear, a white phase of the black bear, which inhabit Princess Royal Island. Other opportunities include kayaking, wilderness camping, and river and ocean fishing. For visitors accessing the conservancy by boat, Kitasoo Bay and Surf Inlet are listed as safe harbours while Laredo Inlet is a protected anchorage offering spectacular scenery and an estuary at the Bay of Plenty. Grant anchorage is popular with kayakers and campers.
Kitasoo Spirit Bear Conservancy is located within the Kitasoo First Nation traditional territory and is co-managed under an agreement between the Kitasoo Nation and the Province of British Columbia. This co-operative management agreement will allow the Kitasoo Nation to access land and resources for their use within the Conservancy while achieving conservation and recreation objectives for the area.
Location and Maps
Kitasoo Spirit Bear Conservancy is located on Princess Royal Island, 15km west of Klemtu and 130km south of Kitimat. The Conservancy’s eastern boundary fronts the Inside Passage marine route making the area easily accessible by boat. The village of Klemtu on Swindle Island is accessible by BC Ferries’ Discovery Coast Passage route from Port Hardy.
Nature and Culture
- History – Princess Royal Island was named by Captain Charles Duncan in 1788 after his sail boat, the Princess Royal. Duncan spent from May to August 1788 trading for sea otter skins between Queen Charlotte Island and Princess Royal Island.
- Cultural Heritage – Kitasoo Spirit Bear is in the asserted territories of the Kitasoo, Heiltsuk and Gitxaala First Nations. In the late 19th century, the Kitasoo and XaiXais people came together to settle in Klemdulxk (Klemtu), meaning ‘blocked passage’ in the Tsimshian language. Kitasoo Bay is the original home of the Kitasoo people (Tsimshian) with old village sites, burial grounds and very high archaeological and heritage values. There are over 100 documented ancient cultural sites within the Kitasoo/XaiXais traditional territory including abandoned native villages, fish traps, culturally modified trees and middens. Structural remains including charred wooden boards and badly decayed boards were recovered from a prehistoric house at Grant Anchorage.
- Conservation – The Kitasoo Spirit Bear Conservancy contributes to a network of protection areas capturing a cross section of biodiversity and provides good representation of the transition between the Hectate Lowlands and Kitimat Ranges Ecosections. The primary role of the conservancy is the protection and conservation of the Kermode bear along with rare and special ecosystems and cultural heritage values. The conservancy provides ecological connectivity with Kitlope and Fiordland through the Khuze and Green watersheds. Special features protected within the conservancy include an example of recent volcanism (Kitasoo Hill), salmonid streams, migration habitat values for waterfowl and possible karst formations.
- Wildife – The highest concentration of Kermode bears are found in the Kitasoo Spirit Bear Conservancy consisting of approximately 10% of the black bear population. Laredo Inlet serves as an important feeding site for red listed marbled murrelets and has an abundance of bald eagle nests. Thriving seabird colonies of puffins, murres and cormorants populate the windswept outer islands. Colourful seabirds such as oystercatchers, pigeon guillemots and rhinoceros auklets are common as well as large numbers of smaller water birds, such as phalaropes. The waters around this conservancy are utilized by orcas, humpback whales, stellar sea lions, sea otters, elephant seals, and porpoises. The area is home to black bears, mountain goats, deer, ravens, foxes and a significant population of grey wolves. Grizzly bears are not common but have been sighted in the area.
- General Wildlife, Marine & Outdoor Ethics Information
Activities Available at this Park
Numerous sea kayaking opportunities are available for exploring the many inlets, coves, islands and sandy beaches. Experienced paddlers can plot an 80km course from Swindle Island to Bella Bella following the exposed west coast of Price Island. Another option for self-sufficient paddlers is to make the 12km paddle north to Princess Royal Island from Swindle Island.
The area is popular for river and ocean fishing. Five species of salmon and steelhead are abundant in the summer while Coho and steelhead are present in the winter. Anyone fishing or angling in British Columbia must have an appropriate licence.
For your own safety and the preservation of the conservancy, obey posted signs and keep to designated trails. Shortcutting trails destroys plant life and soil structure.
There are hiking trails on Swindle Island
The conservancy is open to hunting. Please refer to the British Columbia Hunting Regulations for more information.
There are no lifeguards on duty at provincial parks, protected areas or conservancies.
Swimming is not recommended here, because the water is cold and can be rough.
Facilities Available at this Park
Please Conserve Firewood. Campfires are allowed but firewood is not provided. Be prepared to bring a portable stove for cooking. If you must have a fire, please burn only dead and down wood, and be sure to extinguish the fire fully. Dead wood is an important habitat element for many plants and animals and it adds organic matter to the soil so please use it conservatively, if at all. You can conserve firewood and air quality by keeping your campfire small.
Wilderness, backcountry or walk-in camping is allowed, but no facilities are provided.
Campsites in this area are few and small and by midsummer water supply is limited at most campsites. For campers arriving by kayak, camping opportunities may be limited by sea fog, strong currents, surf landings and high tides.