Brandi Hansen said she felt her heart drop when she found dozens of bear paws discarded on a North Shuswap road over the May long weekend.
The Anglemont-area resident said she was out on a drive with her family on Sunday, May 23, when they came across the paws around the five kilometre mark along Estate Drive (off of Squilax-Anglemont and Fraser roads). Several were on the road, but most were in an adjacent culvert.
Hansen, an avid hunter and outdoor enthusiast, said at first glance the paws looked somewhat like human hands. But after stopping to have a closer look, she knew quickly what they were and, just as quick, was taken aback by the gruesome discovery.
“It was disheartening was the best way I can describe it,” said Hansen, adding cub paws were also present.
Hansen contacted the Conservation Officer Service and said an investigation is underway. As of Tuesday, May 25, her best guess was that poachers may have been responsible. While some have suggested to her that it may have been a taxidermist, and the thought has crossed her mind, Hansen has a difficult time believing that was the case. She said the paws had been hacked off at the joint, most were declawed and some still had fur on them.
“No taxidermist that I know would just dump randomly like that – they incinerate or bury their carcasses,” said Hansen. “What happened up there was a potential offence under the Wildlife Act and nobody is going to risk their licence for a $60,000 fine and up to six months imprisonment to dump that there.”
Also an environmentalist, Hansen was offended by where the paws were dumped, a drainage culvert not far from Shuswap Lake.
“Seeing this kind of atrocity was just disturbing,” she said.
Hansen has a lot of questions, and she hopes investigating conservation officers will be able to find answers. She also hopes that people will not assume hunters are to blame. If anything, she said this incident is something that will unite hunters and those opposed to the sport.
“We’re going to unify here and report everything that’s not ethical that we see in the forest, like poaching – we’re both interested in that, that’s both of our business, we’re both going to report that to conservation… that’s where we can both connect and be on the same page,” said Hansen.
Anyone with any information that might help this investigation can contact the B.C. RAPP (Report All Poachers and Polluters) line at 1-877-952-7277.
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