Wildlife officials in North Carolina are investigating a gruesome case after residents in Woodfin, NC discovered three mutilated bear carcasses on private property.
Wildlife Commission spokesperson Mindy Wharton told the Citizen Times that the bears’ “paws were removed and left on scene” and “there was a bucket present with bear entrails inside.” According to officials, the bears were so deteriorated that their weight and age could not be determined. It is unclear if they were adults or cubs.
“Our officers were notified of the situation and visited the scene yesterday [Nov. 30],” said Wharton. “The investigation is ongoing.”
Tonya Jones, who lives in the neighborhood, told the outlet that she and her husband saw a “baby bear” close to their house on Nov. 25. “We didn’t really think anything of it,” Jones told the Citizen Times. “I kind of thought it was hit by a car and just died. But Sunday [Nov. 27] I was coming in and I slowed down to look at it. I was thinking, ‘Well, we should probably move this.’ I looked off into the woods and saw the other bears. I got out of my car and went to look and see.”
She continued, “It was just awful. I could not believe it.”
Wildlife Commission Investigating Case of Dismembered Carcasses in North Carolina
The Jones family and others in the neighborhood called in reports of the carcasses, and on Nov. 29 a “game warden” arrived on the scene, according to Jones. According to the Woodfin Police Department, they are not investigating the case. But, they directed all reports and inquiries to the North Carolina Wildlife Commission.
“We don’t investigate anything to do with wildlife, like bears,” said Lt. Christopher Ammons with the Woodfin Police Department. “Even if something were to occur, and our officers had to put an injured bear down, Wildlife still has to do all the investigation. So, we don’t do any of that enforcement.”
Officials removed the carcasses from the scene after 5 pm on Nov. 29. It is not hunting season in Buncombe County, which reopens on Dec. 12 and goes until Jan. 2.
“This is definitely specific … how blatantly gruesome this is,” said Adam McMillian, who does work for Help Asheville Bears. The organization is a nonprofit that advocates for local bears, which includes tracking violence against bears. McMillian said that whoever did this was “cold and heartless.”
Washington To Ban Bear Hunting in the Spring
The Washington Fish and Game Commission has ended the state’s longtime spring bear hunting season after a contentious vote. Previously, the Commission put a pause on the bear hunt, causing controversy in the state. Biologists at Washington Fish & Wildlife advocated for the hunt to continue, which caused a rift between wildlife officials. Overall, five commission members voted to stop the bear hunt, while the remaining four voted to continue.