The Vancouver-based wildlife advocacy group, Fur-Bearers, is looking for answers surrounding the death of a black bear and is putting up a $1,500 reward to get them.
“I think for us it’s important to find out what happened in any circumstance where there is a chance of animal cruelty, in this case, a bear, potentially underage and out of season, and based on the information we have there are definitely some red flags,” said Lesley Fox of Fur-Bearers. “So we’re offering a reward in hopes that someone somewhere knows something and is willing to come forward and help us build this file in this case so we can hold those accountable should wrongdoing have occurred.”
The North Okanagan zone of the B.C. Conservation Officer began an investigation after photos showing a bear carcass were posted on Facebook in late December when remains were discovered near Beaverdell, northeast of Penticton.
The author of the post said the remains found were that of a bear cub. However, from the photos, Conservation Officer Ken Owens said at the time the photos did not look like a cub.
Black bears under two years of age can not be legally hunted and the hunting season for the bears in that region closed Nov. 30.
“Based on the photos it’s really hard to tell but definitely it seems to be on the small side and it’s part of the reason we offered the reward,” said Fox. “But either way (if the kill was fresh when it was discovered) it’s definitely illegal, it’s pretty gruesome.
“Some questions I have are, bears definitely should be hibernating around this time of year and perhaps that animal was starving and wasn’t successfully hibernating.”
She added it was unusual that the pelt, which, apart from some of the organs, is of any monetary value, was left behind.
According to Owens, while the incident was posted on Facebook no call was made to the Report All Poachers and Polluters (RAPP) line resulting in a delay in starting the investigation.
“Social media generally is a double-edged sword. It is great for raising awareness of issues particularly local issues but if those issues involved a criminal element or a potentially criminal act, they need to be reported to the proper channels,” said Fox.
The non-profit organization is national in scope but focuses much of its efforts in B.C.
While it regularly offers rewards for information about animal cruelty she said unfortunately last year none of the cases they sought information for came to light.
“Animal cruelty is an indicator across all policing agencies of a violent personality and usually when someone is violent towards animals they rarely stop there,” said Fox. “I think that is why animal cruelty should concern us all is because it is part of the cycle of violence and it’s violence you can stop.”
Anyone with information about the Beaverdell incident is asked to contact Fur-Bearers at 778-892-5369 or Lesley@TheFurBearers.com