bear poachers 

Bear poaching ring closing CO’s not sure where bears are being killed Earlier this month Lower Mainland Conservation officers raided the home of a Vancouver Chinese Seafood restaurant owner, seizing 84 bear paws and stepping up the crackdown on the illegal trade of bear parts. The previous week, Squamish Conservation Officers found a dead grizzly bear floating in Shovelnose Creek at Mile 31 of the Squamish Valley Road, killed by a single gunshot. Although they have made no connections, CO’s are not ruling out the possibility the grizzly may have been gunned down by poachers looking to make some cash selling bear parts on the black market. "There is a special investigation underway from the Surrey (conservation) Office," says Squamish CO Steve Jacoby. "We can’t say for sure whether there are any ties between the two cases." Jacoby says the Lower Mainland investigation has not released any information as to where the seized bear claws may have come from. On Oct. 4 conservation officers followed through on a tip they received and raided the home of a Vancouver restaurateur. Inside a freezer, they made a grisly discovery — 84 skinned and declawed paws from grizzly and black bears — frozen and ready for sale at around $200 a piece as stock for bear claw soup. Trading in bear parts was made illegal in 1993 through an amendment in the Wildlife Act. Under the act, illegally hunting black bears carries an automatic fine of $10,000 on a first offence. Most of the paws were from adult black bears, although some came from grizzlies. Conservation officers were unable to determine whether the paws had been removed from black bears taken during hunting season or if they were poached. CO’s say the claws were sold to the restaurant owner for an estimated $25 each. Last year, B.C. and non-resident hunters killed about 3,500 black bears in season and 170 grizzlies, but they say at least that many were killed illegally — mostly for exotic parts like claws and gall bladders. A July 13 raid of herbal medicine shops in Vancouver’s Chinatown resulted in 29 charges laid against 11 individuals who were charged with trafficking and possession in bear gall bladders. The gall bladders are used in herbal medicine and fetch $50 to $800 apiece.

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