Bear poached in Pitt Meadows

Had been shot, dumped in field, both front paws chopped off

A bear was found dumped in a Pitt Meadows field with its front paws removed.

A bear was found dumped in a Pitt Meadows field with its front paws removed.

The mutilated carcass of a poached black bear was dumped in a Pitt Meadows field in early September.

The B.C. Wildlife Federation is offering a $2,000 reward for information about the illegal kill as the conservation service investigates it.

“It was quite disturbing,” said conservation officer Cody Ambrose.

A farmer found the large boar on Sept. 8 in a secluded section of his field near Neaves and Thompson roads, close to the Pitt Polder.

The bear had been shot and was missing its front paws.

“It had been dead for at least a couple of days before it was dropped in the field,” said Ambrose.

“This is unique compared to other poaching cases or bears shot in this area. It’s quite unusual because just its front paws were cut off. The back paws and gall bladder were left.”

Bear hunting season spans from April 1 to June 15 in B.C., but is not allowed in Pitt Meadows or Maple Ridge.

“We do get a lot of poaching in the Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows area,” said Ambrose.

“But this one is unusual because someone took the time to go into a field and drop the bear off. The bear had been dead for at least two days.”

Bile and body parts, taken from bears using inhumane means, feed an illegal trade in bear products which extends worldwide.

According to the Endangered Species Handbook, the consumption of bear paws, cooked as a gourmet delicacy, to some, is health promoting and widespread in Asia.

Served at Japanese business banquets, they can cost $1,000 per person; a Seoul restaurant advertised bear paw soup in 1994 at $1,000 per bowl.

It is illegal to commercially export bear parts, including gall bladders and bile, under the Convention of the International Trade in Endangered Species.

The World Society for the Protection of Animals estimates the average price of a gall bladder from a wild bear at $235 in Canada and over $600 in the U.S.

But when processed and smuggled out of Canada to Asia, where it is purported in traditional medicine to cure everything from diabetes to erectile dysfunction, a gall bladder can fetch up to $45,000.

“This is not legal hunting,” said Ambrose. “It’s not ethical. We are looking for information about the person or persons who are responsible for this.”

With bears getting ready to den for the winter, Ambrose is asking residents of Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows to be careful about leaving out attractants such as garbage.

This year, Maple Ridge has had fewer calls about nuisance bears, but not because people are heeding calls to secure their garbage or pick fruit trees. The conservation service expects conflict calls to spike between October and November.

“Compared to last year, Maple Ridge has been a lot quieter. That could be due to berry crops being plentiful,” Ambrose added.

In 2013, a dozen bears were shot in Maple Ridge after getting accustomed to garbage and other attractants.

In May, residents witnessed a bear being shot on Tamarack Lane. The bear had been wandering the neighbourhood for months, eating trash.

The City of Maple Ridge has a Bear Aware program, which targets neighbourhoods that generate the most conflict calls. The program aims to educate residents and has been effective in getting people to understand how to live in harmony with bears.

The city also has a bylaw restricting when garbage can be put out, but Ambrose says with no scheduled municipal pickup, it’s difficult for conservation officers to police neighbourhoods or hand out fines.

“There’s garbage outside every day of the week,” he added.

 

Reward

Anyone with information on the poaching incident is asked to call conservation officers at 1-877-952-7277. The B.C. Wildlife Federation is offering a reward of $2,000 for information that leads to an arrest and conviction.