A dumpsite of severed bear paws found in B.C.’s Southern Interior last week was shocking, but not completely surprising to one First Nation Grand Chief.
Discovered by a North Shuswap family while out for a hike in the Anglemont area, the dumpsite included the severed paws of approximately 20 to 25 bears.
Grand Chief Stewart Phillip of Penticton says seeing that many animal parts in one dumpsite “is a complete disrespect for wildlife, which is a consequence of the disconnection between non-Indigenous people and the land.”
Phillip said Indigenous culture teaches that land, water and all living things — especially bears, which are seen as protectors — are sacred.
“We have a very sacred responsibility to offer stewardship, conservation and protection to the land (and) the wildlife contained therein,” said Phillip.
“So to see the wanton slaughter of so many bears, for obviously black-market commercial reasons, it’s very infuriating.”
B.C. family finds dozens of severed bear paws in North Shuswap area
A former chief of the Penticton Indian Band for 16 years and now president of the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs, Phillip said the dumpsite underscores the failings of conservation efforts in B.C.
“It’s an indication that the conservation capacity of the Province of British Columbia is severely lacking,” he said. “There needs to be more boots on the ground in that regard.
“But there needs to be an investigation into who is behind this. And I think in that regard, you have to follow the money.”
Phillip continued, saying “when those people are exposed, they need to be severely prosecuted. And I hope that happens. I hope it’s not just filed away and disregarded.”
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The Grand Chief says it’s a well-known fact that the bile of bears is a much sought-after commodity.
He also claims provincial officials are tiptoeing around the matter and aren’t utilizing law enforcement to its fullest to help curb or stop poaching.
“It’s an incredibly wide-spread (issue),” he said. “Just a few years ago, we were dealing with eagle parts, and again it’s driven by the commercial black market. So there have to be consequences to those people.”
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In related news, three First Nation communities in the Shuswap are offering a reward for any information on who may have discarded the bear paws.
The Little Shuswap Lake Band, the Neskonlith Indian Band and the Adams Lake Indian Band are offering $3,000 “to anyone with information that leads to the conviction of those responsible for this slaughter and associated disrespectful actions.”
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