A Lumby family was stunned to find a deceased baby bear cub with gunshot wounds on their farm property on Thanksgiving Sunday.
Just that morning, Laurielynn Bridger-Stroud, her six-year-old daughter and her daughter’s friend had been watching a family of bears playing in their recently harvested cornfield where they like to eat the leftover corn. Later in the day, the two girls stumbled upon a baby bear that looked to them to be sleeping.
“They went to give our goats scraps after Thanksgiving dinner… my daughter realized it was a baby bear, so they sat there and looked at it and were kind of stunned,” Bridger-Stroud said.
Her husband grabbed the gun in case the cub was merely wounded and the mother bear was around, but when they reached the cub they noticed it had a bullet hole in its back between the shoulder blades and its ear was torn.
“He was tiny, up to your knee maybe,” Bridger-Stroud said. “He was a very small bear.”
“It’s Thanksgiving Day, I’m like, ‘who do I call?’”
After searching around online Bridger-Stroud found the B.C. Government’s hotline for reporting poachers, 1-877-952-7277. From there she was connected to her local conservation officer.
“The local CO asked if there was anyone we suspected. But none of our neighbours heard gunshots and no one saw anything,” she said.
The officer told her it was a strange situation, since a bear that young with the injuries it suffered would not have been able to run far. She said the officer concluded that the bear may have been dumped on their property.
“The bear was already stiff so it had to have been dead for at least eight hours,” said Bridger-Stroud, describing how the officer had determined that the bear had likely been shot early that morning.
According the the officer that spoke to Bridger-Stroud, it’s illegal to shoot a bear under two years old, or a mother bear with cubs — and it may not have been the only cub shot in the North Okanagan on that day. A woman in the Vernon area reached out after seeing Bridger-Stroud’s Facebook post about the bear, and told her she’d encountered the same thing.
“Her husband and her friend had been out hunting in the early morning, and she said that just on a pullout off of Butters Road there was a bear cub shot and killed.”
Vernon conservation officers have not yet confirmed the second incident.
It was a series of events that deflated the family’s Thanksgiving weekend.
“It’s just wrong all around, on a human level and on a legal level. It’s a little unnerving to know that someone’s around here doing that.”
It was no restful night for the daughter who discovered the cub either, and Bridger-Stroud and her husband had to have a difficult discussion.
“We just explained to them that somebody shot them and that it’s not allowed, that you’re never allowed to shoot a baby animal and it was wrong,” Bridger-Stroud said.
“We all know each other and every neighbour is super upset and shocked by this.”
The Morning Star reached out to BC Conservation for comment but no statement was provided by time of publishing.