More than a year after dozens of severed bear paws were found scattered on a rural road in the North Shuswap, conservation officers have found the person responsible for the gruesome scene: a taxidermist.
The B.C. Conservation Officer Service says the animal parts inadvertently fell out of the taxidermist's truck while travelling. The taxidermist was in legal possession of the wildlife parts as part of their business, but the dumping of the skinned paws was unlawful.
The incident was first reported to the conservation service by a passerby in May 2021. Video showed dozens of severed paws dumped along Estate Drive in the community of Anglemont, and in a culvert above Shuswap Lake. A woman who spoke to CBC said there were approximately 80 paws. which appeared to be from both adult bears and cubs.
The service says the taxidermist is cooperative in their investigation and will make a "substantial voluntary donation" to the Little Shuswap Lake Band's Watershed Stewardship Guardian Program. The donation is in lieu of a $115 littering charge under the Environmental Management Act.
Officers did not disclose the amount of the donation, but say it "far exceeds the fine amount."
"The [conservation officer service] and the [Little Shuswap Lake Band] are pleased this donation will have a more meaningful impact to the community and wildlife," the service said in a Facebook post.
The service emphasizes the incident is not linked to illegal black market operations trafficking bear and other wildlife parts.
"We hope the conclusion of this investigation, which confirms this was not related to poaching, helps alleviate distress and brings closure to the public," said acting Chief Conservation Officer Cam Schley.
The conservation service reminds hunters and taxidermists to dispose of wildlife remains in a lawful and ethical manner.
"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," it said.