A BC-based wildlife charity is searching for answers and ramping up its reward to find those responsible for illegally killing two cougar kittens on Vancouver Island.
The felines were shot and killed, with their paws and heads removed along Hill 60 Forest Service Road near Lake Cowichan, according to the BC Conservation Officer Service (BC COS).
On Thursday, May 5th, the BC COS said investigators believed the poaching incident, classified as a serious offence under the BC Wildlife Act, took place within the past week.
Following a plea for public help, The Fur-Bearers group offered a $1,000 reward for information leading to the identification and conviction of those responsible.
On Monday, that reward climbed to $8,500—the most substantial in the group’s history.
According to The Fur-Bearers, $500 from E. Lefebvre, $1,000 from Ian Voermann, $5,000 from Kashtin Capozzi, and a $1,000 anonymous donation helped to increase the funds.
“We are overwhelmed by the response of these individuals and the thousands of others who have shared our reward information and coverage of this poaching case,” said The Fur-Bearers’ advocacy director, Aaron Hofman.
“It is a heartwarming reminder that the majority of British Columbians admire and respect our wildlife and that we all agree there is no place for poaching in our communities.”
The COS says it’s illegal to kill cougar kittens, including any cougar with spots, under one year of age or cougars in a family unit.
“The killing of cougar kittens shows a blatant disregard for ethical hunting and wildlife conservation. Thankfully, this is not the type of offence we see frequently,” added Conservation Officer Mark Kissinger.
Officials are hopeful the reward will prompt people who may have seen or heard something related to the case to call the Report All Poachers and Polluters (RAPP) hotline at 1 (877) 952-7277.
Tipsters can also get in touch via the RAPP form found online here.