B.C. Conservation officials want to know who cut the head and paws off a bear, gutted it then dumped its remains in Port Alberni’s Somass River.
Tseshaht First Nation fisherman Bob Rupert found the butchered bear carcass in the water on Thursday evening when he went to check his wharf on Mission Road.
“It freaked me out when I first saw it because I thought it was a human body, but I realized it was a bear carcass when I got closer,” Rupert said.
The animal was floating on its back. It appeared small in size and was missing its head and paws. Its inner torso was exposed as well.
“I’ve heard of this being done in other places, people cutting out parts and selling them, but I’ve never heard of it being done around here,” he said. Rupert reported the find to B.C. Conservation officers. “I hope they do something about it because this is just sick and sad.”
The road is somewhat remote but Rupert said he and nearby residents haven’t noticed anything out of the ordinary as of late.
B.C. Conservation officer Mike deLaronde said officers would be attending the scene as soon as they could.
DeLaronde couldn’t speculate anything without seeing the carcass, but said being in the water would make it difficult to determine how long it’s been there.
“It could have been scavenged by other animals as well,” he said.
Carcasses in similar condition haven’t been reported in the Alberni Valley, deLaronde said.
There is a legal bear hunting season on the Island right now that lasts until June. Nevertheless, hunters are required to butcher bear carcasses for edible parts at home, “not dump them in the river,” deLaronde said. “People harvesting for paws or other parts is such a waste.”
Officers will investigate but finding out who’s responsible will be difficult. “Earlier would have been better,” deLaronde said.
Animal poachers face fines from $1,000 to $50,000 and prison sentences from six months to one year, the Ministry of Environment’s website noted.
According to the World Society for the Protection of Animals, there is an extensive illegal trade in bear parts such as paws, bile and gall bladders.
Anyone with any information about the incident is asked to call 1-877-952-7277.