The sanctuary comprises an area of upland and foreshore in the northern Kitimat Range around Khutzeymateen Inlet that was the first area in Canada to be specifically protected for grizzly bears.
The topography of this sanctuary – the first undisturbed estuary of its size to be protected along the north coast of British Columbia – is extremely diverse. The pristine setting is spectacular: deep winding fjords shrouded with dense Sitka spruce rainforest that comes right down to the water's edge, with rugged glacier-capped peaks towering 2,100 metres above a valley of wetland, old-growth temperate forest and fabulous beaches that entice us to explore. Lying some 45 kilometres northeast of Prince Rupert, Khutzeymateen can only be accessed by boat.
The sanctuary’s ultimate purpose is to protect the north coast grizzly bear by preserving the ecosystem in which they live. River estuaries provide important spawning grounds for many species of salmon, upon which the area's many grizzlies depend. These share the area with an abundance of wildlife an are often seen along the shore and in open meadows. In fact, Khutzeymateen is now known as one of the best bear viewing areas in Canada. Because of the area’s high sensitivity and strict conservation orientation, visitor use is not encouraged, although a limited amount of controlled viewing is allowed under permit. The hunting of grizzly bears is prohibited, and the hunting of other wildlife is restricted to areas above 1,000 metres elevation.
The watershed of the Khutzeymateen River has long been an important hunting and fishing site for First Nations people, notably the Gitsiis, one of the nine tribes that make up the Allied Tsimshian Tribes. The park was created with the Gitsiis Council and is managed jointly by BC Parks and the Tsimshian Tribal Council. In the Tsimshian language K’tsim-a-deen means “valley at the head of the inlet”.
There is an interpretative centre at the ranger station and, although there are no bear platforms, there is excellent bear and wildlife viewing from boats in the estuaries.
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