Charges are pending against two Vancouver men after a black bear was shot and killed on Callaghan Valley Road Tuesday, June 15.
Conservation Officer Dave Jevons said he couldn't comment on specifics of the case, such as the men's identities or whether they were aware that they were in a no-shooting zone, because the case is still being investigated by the Conservation Officer Service, but he did say that the men were licensed hunters and that charges will be laid.
"The investigation is more in regards to the shooting in a no-shooting area and other related offenses under the Wildlife Act," he said. "Unfortunately, because of where we're at in the investigation and until it gets to the charge process, I really can't talk on the specifics."
Witnesses noticed two men walking into the woods with rifles around 8:30 p.m. June 15. The witnesses took down the licence plate and were driving away when they heard a gun shot. That's when they called the police.
RCMP and the Conservation Officer Service both responded and found the dead bear. The suspects were apprehended at a different location a short time later. Charges related to hunting a black bear and other offenses in the Wildlife and Conservation Act are still pending.
Poaching is not believed to be an issue in the case, since the suspects were hunting during the legal season, but Jevons said poaching is something that the COS is always aware of and continuously investigating.
"The spring bear season is now over, so there shouldn't be any hunting activity until the fall," he said.
Jevons commended the witnesses for taking the suspects' licence plate and calling authorities.
"Just by doing that, we were able to get where we are," he said. "If more people (reported) more suspicious activity, we'd be able to probably prevent more deaths from occurring. We very heavily rely on the public to provide us with information."
The public is asked to call the COS directly at their 24/7 phone service to report any incidents or suspicious activities: 1-877-952-7277.
"Our biggest issue right now is human-wildlife conflict that we face in the corridor. The issues would be around motor vehicle accidents with bears grazing on the highway," he said, adding that people should be mindful when they're driving.
Following a number of human-bear incidents in recent months, Jevons also reminded people not to stop along the highway if they see bears. Not only is it a public safety issue, but it also increases bear habituation to humans.