North Shuswap Brandi Hansen said she was disheartened to find dozens of severed, declawed bear paws dumped in a culvert alongside a North Shuswap road on Sunday, May 23, 2021. (Contributed)

North Shuswap Brandi Hansen said she was disheartened to find dozens of severed, declawed bear paws dumped in a culvert alongside a North Shuswap road on Sunday, May 23, 2021. (Contributed)

Severed bear paws found along North Shuswap forest road linked to taxidermy business

Conservation Officer Service says paws ‘inadvertently fell out of the back of the individual’s truck’

A taxidermist was found to be responsible for dozens of bear paws left on a North Shuswap forest road.

The BC Conservation Officer Service (COS) announced Thursday, Sept. 15, that it had completed its investigation into the disposal of wildlife parts, including numerous skinned bear paws, found near Anglemont in May 2021. Area resident Brandi Hansen, an avid hunter and outdoor enthusiast and her family were out for a drive over the May long weekend when they discovered the discarded bear and cub paws, most of them in a culvert along Forest Road 695.

“It was disheartening, was the best way I can describe it,” said Hansen, who contacted the Conservation Officer Service.

“No taxidermist that I know would just dump randomly like that – they incinerate or bury their carcasses,” thought Hansen, concerned the paws indicated a potential offence under the Wildlife Act.

However, through its investigation, the COS determined the “person responsible was in lawful possession of the wildlife parts as a result of their taxidermy business.”

“The waste was unlawfully dumped after it inadvertently fell out of the back of the individual’s truck while travelling,” said the COS in a post on its Facebook page.

The COS said the person responsible has been cooperative in the investigation and, in lieu of a $115 littering fine under the Environmental Management Act, has made a donation far exceeding that total to the Little Shuswap Lake Band’s Watershed Stewardship Guardian Program, as the offence occurred in the band’s territory. The Guardian Program helps to reduce human-bear conflicts through training in bear awareness, public safety and attractant management.

The COS stressed the incident was not linked to an illegal black market operation in the trafficking of bear or other wildlife parts.

“We understand the public is passionate about wildlife and recognize this scene was alarming and concerning to many Indigenous communities, British Columbians and others,” said acting Chief Conservation Officer Cam Schley. “We hope the conclusion of this investigation, which confirms this was not related to poaching, helps alleviate distress and bring closure to the public.”

Read more: Shuswap resident finds dozens of declawed bear paws dumped on side of road

Read more: B.C. First Nations condemn those responsible for bear paws dumped in North Shuswap

The COS said it appreciates the opportunity to work with the Little Shuswap Lake Band in their territory to resolve the matter in a meaningful way for their community. The COS also thanked the public, “whose support was instrumental in providing information that assisted with the investigation.

“Hunters, as well as those in the taxidermy and related industries, are required to dispose of wildlife remains in a lawful and ethical manner,” said the COS. “This is to avoid alarming passersby, as well as attracting dangerous wildlife to an area frequented by people, which can create a public safety risk. Unfortunately, every year the COS receives reports of wildlife parts being disposed of in undesirable locations.”

Violations can be reported to the Report All Poachers and Polluters (RAPP) hotline at 1-877-952-7277.


lachlan@saobserver.net
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