WARNING: This story contains a graphic description of animal mutilation.
The Fur-Bearers, a B.C.-based wildlife advocacy charity, is offering a $10,000 reward for anyone who can identify the person or people behind the recent killing and mutilation of two cougar kittens on Vancouver Island.
The group initially offered a $1,000 reward for information that leads to a conviction but has since increased it, following a series of donations from supporters.
Aaron Hofman, the director of advocacy and policy with the organization, said it's the largest reward The Fur-Bearers has ever offered.
"Of course, it's dealing with kittens, right? When there's a case of poaching baby animals, I think people are rightfully upset," said Hofman on Friday. "I think it just speaks to people just don't want to stand for this — they find it unacceptable."
Last week, the B.C. Conservation Officer Service (BCCOS) discovered the mutilated bodies of two cougar kittens that had been shot near Hill 60 Forest Service Road in the Cowichan Valley.
One of the kittens had been beheaded and both had their paws removed, according to the BCCOS.
"I was pretty appalled," said Hofman on learning of the killings. "I was disgusted. Poaching shouldn't happen in our province."
He said anyone with information who's interested in collecting the reward should contact the province's Report All Poachers and Polluters (RAPP) line, rather than going through The Fur-Bearers.
Hofman said the group has offered many rewards in the past, but he's not aware of any of them resulting in a conviction and being paid out. He hopes that the scale of this reward and the nature of the case means someone comes forward to identify the person or people behind the kitten killings.
A spokesperson with the Ministry of Environment declined an interview request on behalf of the BCCOS on Friday, saying that officers have received and followed up on several tips but no charges have been laid.