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The then Duke and Duchess of Cambridge along with then premier of British Columbia Christy Clark walk through the rainforest in Bella Bella, B.C., on Sept 26, 2016.JONATHAN HAYWARD/The Canadian Press

A British Columbia conservation group says it has purchased exclusive hunting rights to a quarter of the Great Bear Rainforest on the province’s north and central coast to protect wildlife there.

The Raincoast Conservation Foundation says it took two years to raise $1.92 million to buy the 18,000-square-kilometre tenure off commercial hunting operators.

Raincoast’s guide outfitter co-ordinator Brian Falconer says the group has fulfilled all aspects of the purchase except the physical transfer of the hunting licenses, a process that is being completed.

Raincoast says in a statement the purchase makes the environmental group the largest hunting tenure holder in B.C., with six tenures covering more than 56,000 square kilometres.

Falconer says the acquisitions allow Raincoast to protect wildlife while “lighting a path” to the development of an ecotourism economy “not dependent on killing and extracting things.”

The group has been buying hunting rights in the province since 2005, after a 2001 moratorium on grizzly bear hunting was overturned.

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