CROWSNEST PASS- Taking on a 500 pound wild animal is no easy task, but for poachers in southern Alberta, all it takes is one shot to destroy a threatened species.
The number of poached grizzlies bears in our province is on the rise and two unsolved cases has Fish and Wildlife turning to the public for help.
“Seems to be something that some people have to have, and the life of that animal is not really worth anything to them,” said scientist David McIntyre of poaching.
Both cases were in 2013, and the investigation has carried over into this season.
Officials have released this statement describing the incidents:
“There are few sights more majestic in the province than a grizzly bear in its natural habitat. However, some poachers choose to target these magnificent creatures, and Alberta’s hard-working fish and wildlife officers need your help to catch them.
Officers regularly conduct patrols in known grizzly habitat to deter would-be poachers, but they can’t be everywhere at once in Alberta’s 661,848 km².
Currently, investigations into two grizzly deaths are ongoing in Blairmore and Pincher Creek, and investigators are asking the public for information to help bring these poachers to justice.
Incident #1: Blairmore District
In early May of 2013, Fish and Wildlife Officers received information from campers visiting the Livingstone falls area in the Crowsnest Forest Reserve about the poaching of a male grizzly. Officers believe the persons responsible for the crime may have been licenced black bear hunters. The bear was shot and left to waste just off the Forestry trunk road near Isolation Creek.
Incident #2: Pincher Creek District
In early May of 2013, Fish and Wildlife Officers received information from a concerned citizen stating that a whole carcass of a grizzly bear was discovered along a hillside in Pincher Creek Canyon. Possible suspects may be hunters who have frequented that area for several years and are known to hunt on horseback in the area.
Anyone with information that might help solve these cases is asked to call the Blairmore Fish and Wildlife District office at (403) 562-3289, or the 24-hour Report a Poacher line at 1-800-642-3800, which is toll-free across North America.
Any information, photos, social media comments, or other details that might connect individuals to these crimes could help regardless of how insignificant it might seem. Callers providing information that leads to charges may qualify for a reward. Personal information is kept strictly confidential, and those who wish to remain anonymous can still qualify for a reward.
Grizzly bears symbolize the beautiful countryside valued by both Albertans and visitors. They are part of our provincial identity, and we need to ensure they are here for future generations to enjoy. Any tips you have will help protect the province’s world-class fish and wildlife resources.”
With nearly a dozen illegally killed grizzlies last year alone, experts are concerned about the future of the species.
“We know that there aren’t an awful lot of bears, and any loss especially the number of bears that we had killed in the last year or so, is a significant loss.
Fish and Wildlife says depending on the circumstances, those caught poaching could face thousands of dollars worth of fines, and even jail time.