Conservation Officers are looking into a mysterious discovery on the grounds of the University of British Columbia.
On Thursday morning, a glass container with bear paws inside was discovered near Wesbrook Mall on the UBC campus. Conservation officers confirmed later in the day the paws appear to be from a black bear.
It was first spotted by Peter Devries, who lives in the area. He said at first, he ignored the container.
“For the longest time, I thought it was just a construction worker [who] had tossed his lunch away and that it was nothing,” he said.
Last week, his curiosity finally got the best of him.
“As time went by, I thought ‘What is with that?’ and I turned it over and I could see the hair and the claw, and I thought ‘That is horrible’,” Devries told Global News.
He and his neighbours called building managers and reported it to the province’s toll-free poachers line, but they say no one came.
On Thursday, they contacted Global News.
After our call to the RCMP, officers came to investigate, taking the container and handing it over to conservation officers to take the lead.
Late last year, the body of a bear was found washed up on a beach in Metchosin.
“All four paws were missing and it had a big incision from about the breast bone all the way down to the pubic bone,” said Marg Lachmutch, adding that it looked as though the gallbladder had been removed.
Trafficking bear parts is illegal in Canada, but thousands of bears are killed every year to meet the demands of the black market. In the U.S. it’s estimated that 80,000 bears are killed every year. Some people consider bear parts a delicacy with medicinal properties. Soup made with the bear paw can sell for about $1,000 a bowl, while a gallbladder can fetch upwards of $10,000.
The worldwide trafficking of bear parts is valued at $2 billion.
It’s not clear how the paws ended up on the university grounds, but conservation officers said it is possible the bear was legally killed.
“People have been known to remove the bear paws from the carcass of legal hunting kills,” said Sgt. Todd Hunter. “Where it becomes unlawful activity is if people are trying to sell the bear paws.”
Hunter says a necropsy will be performed to determine how the bear died.