Conservation officers are investigating after a dead and mutilated bear was apparently dumped in Capilano River Regional Park.
Park users first found the carcass on Monday at the edge of a parking lot in Camp Capilano and contacted the Ministry of Environment and North Shore Black Bear Society.
"We don't know how it died, whether it was from natural causes or actually from human interaction. What we do know is that the claws were removed and the skull was removed," said Ashley Page, conservation officer.
There was also a large gash down the bear's abdomen, but because of the state of decomposition, Page said she didn't know if it was made by a human with a tool or done by an animal scavenging on the carcass.
It's also unknown if any organs were removed.
Page said the bear, a young male, had been dead for as long as a week when she first saw it.
While bear pelts, heads and paws are often used as hunting trophies and bear organs are sometimes harvested for traditional Chinese medicine, there's no obvious reason someone would cut off the bear's skull and claws, Page said.
Page would not speculate what use the skull and claws would have but said it is the first time she has seen them harvested from a dead bear.
"It suggests that somebody was interested in the bear and was likely not an ethical hunter," she said.
The incident has been disturbing and equally baffling for Christine Miller, education coordinator for the Black Bear Society.
"It's right by a kids' camp. That's really thoughtless and irresponsible," Miller said. "I can't say for sure that it's poaching but it does happen in B.C., definitely.
I didn't expect to see it in our backyard."
Bear hunting season in B.C. runs from April 1 to June 15, though hunting is not allowed on the North Shore. It's possible that the bear was killed somewhere where hunting is allowed and then dumped here after its parts were harvested, Page said.
Miller and Page are both hopeful someone will come forward with information about the bear.
So far there are no leads and no witnesses.
"If anybody does have any information, please give us a call," said Page. The hotline to report poaching is 1-877-952-7277.