A grizzly bear and a number of elk have been shot illegally and left near Elkford, and COs are asking those responsible to come forward.
Conservation Officer Patricia Burley said she responded to a call from a concerned hunter and went to investigate the body of a grizzly bear that appeared to be killed deliberately.
“I found the grizzly bear on September 30th. There was no other evidence that I was able to find at the scene that indicated that it was a bear that was shot in self-defence,” said Burley. “Under the wildlife act, people are supposed to report any accidental killings to the CO service.”
Throughout the elk hunting season, Burley said there has been a significant number of animals that have been killed with their bodies abandoned. Two five-point bull elk were shot and killed northeast of Elkford, near a forest service road.
“They were found in a clear-cut, which indicates that someone most likely shot from the forest service road into the opening at these two bull elk,” said Burley.
Six-point elk are in season for hunters, but five-points are not.
“Sometimes people make honest mistakes and maybe when they walked up they realized the elk were not six-points, but whoever did this wasted two beautiful animals, didn’t harvest any meat and didn’t report it to the CO service.”
According to Burley, accidental killings of animals or those shot in self-defence are not uncommon during hunting season. She noted that four more out-of-season elk have been killed and left between Thursday and Friday in the area from Cranbrook to Fernie.
“We really want to focus on that group of people who are shooting and leaving animals to waste. We don’t want that animal to go to waste, we want to do all that we can. It happens every year, but this is one of the worst years I’ve ever experienced,” explained Burley. “The number for this year, we have not totalled, but we’re looking at approximately 30 self-reported five-point bull elk as well as those that have been found.”
Those who accidentally kill an animal that is illegal to hunt are encouraged to come forward and report it, as the punishment will likely be less severe.
“We want to support the people who are self-reporting because that goes a long way. The meat is seized and goes to the food banks and the Salvation Army people who are in need of food,” said Burley.
Burley reminded hunters to double-check and be sure of what they are aiming at.
“If you are pulling the trigger on an animal, don’t – look at it for 10 or 20 seconds and count and think you’re sure of yourself, be 100% and then pull that trigger,” said Burley. “You are expected to know all the laws and regulations for all land bases where you are. It’s a lot of responsibility to be out there if you’re a hunter.”