Woman Finds Dozens of Severed Bear Paws While Walking With Her Kids

A Canadian woman who was hiking in the western province of British Columbia on Sunday came across a horrific sight: numerous disposed animal parts, including those of several bears.

Brandi Hansen made the gruesome discovery during a walk with her three children on a road near Shuswap Lake, located in the south of the province, CBC News reported.

The dumped animal parts mostly consisted of approximately 80 severed bear paws. Hansen told CBC she was disturbed by the sight.

"That's 20 or 30 bears," she said. "Whoever did this should be caught and held accountable."

The animal parts were scattered across the road and in an adjacent ditch and culvert.

"Upon taking a closer look, we saw some fur, there were some paws that were declawed with the fur still on them," Hansen told Global News. "There were others that had the skin removed that were declawed. We went and we looked over in the culvert and it was just paws upon paws—there were some skulls in there as well."

"I was shocked, then disappointed and disheartened to think that an individual would be responsible for this."

Hansen, who describes herself as an experienced hunter, told CBC News that the paws appeared to be both from adult bears and cubs. She said the way the paws had been declawed and handled suggested that the person or individuals responsible were not very experienced at this task.

"This is nothing hunters or a taxidermist would do. It was a chop job," she told CBC.

Hansen also told Global News that, from a distance, the bear paws almost looked like human hands.

"Once bears are skinned, it has a really similar look to it, it's almost uncanny," she said.

After making the discovery, Hansen contacted local police and the British Columbia Conservation Officer Service (COS). On Monday, conservation officers visited the scene to investigate.

In a statement posted to Twitter on Tuesday, the COS said it was "investigating a report of a disposal of wildlife parts, including several bear paws, near Anglemont. Conservation Officers attended the site and collected evidence."

"The COS is requesting assistance from the public to help identify who may have disposed of the parts."

The #BCCOS is investigating a report of a disposal of wildlife parts, including several bear paws, near #Anglemont

Conservation Officers attended the site in the Anglemont Mountain area, along Forest Service Road 695, and collected evidence.

— BC CO Service (@_BCCOS) May 25, 2021

In British Columbia, the sale and possession of bear parts is illegal. But bear parts can fetch thousands of dollars on the international wildlife black market, according to CBC News.

In traditional Asian medicine, bear bile and gallbladders are believed to have medical properties, while bear paws are seen as a delicacy by some, according to a report by the Animal Legal and Historical Center, based at Michigan State University.

Hansen said that after talking to other local residents, she believes poachers were responsible for the dumping of the animal parts.

"From the locals, the common feeling is we think it's poachers. We don't know anyone in the area that would do that," she told Global News.

Newsweek has contacted the British Columbia Conservation Officer Service for comment.

A mother brown bear and three cubs
Stock image showing a mother brown bear and her three cubs. A Canadian family stumbled across dozens of severed bear paws during a walk on Sunday. iStock