Authorities are on the lookout for a hunter who broke the law and potentially endangered lives in a residential area in Lake Cowichan.
On Sunday, RCMP received a report that a deer had been shot and killed in a laneway bordering forest in the 100 Houses neighbourhood.
Erin Clayton and her family live metres from where the animal was found late that afternoon.
“I was in the house and I heard a big bang. My husband was in the garage and I thought, ‘What is he doing out there?’ And then maybe 10 minutes later he came in and said someone shot a deer in the lane,” she said. “I was shocked.”
Clayton’s husband witnessed a man in his 30s or 40s fleeing the scene. The individual, who authorities consider a suspect, was wearing a camouflage outfit and riding a camouflage all-terrain vehicle.
The Claytons phoned the police who arrived right away.
That the suspect was dressed in camouflage will likely make identification a challenge.
“That’s unfortunate for anyone else with a camouflage ATV because I’ve heard there’s a lot around town,” she said.
The incident occurred in an area frequently used by neighbourhood residents and other community members because of its proximity to the old A.B. Greenwell School and the trails that run through the forest there.
“There are so many people using the lane,” said Clayton, who is the mother of two children under the age of six. “My husband parks back there and every day when he comes home my kids run out to see him. My child likes to run and throw rocks in the creek there, the kids in the neighbourhood are riding their bikes, families are walking their dogs.”
Clayton said she and her family will now likely steer clear of that area during hunting season.
Conservation officer Scott Norris said his department is working with the RCMP on this case and is in possession of the deer carcass, which is considered evidence. The animal was an adult buck.
“[It was] likely shot right there, obviously within 100 metres of the houses. So that’s an offence under the Wildlife Act. You can’t hunt within 100 metres of a house,” he said.
“The other thing, obviously, is under the Wildlife Act there is an offence against dangerous hunting, which means you can’t hunt without considering the lives and safety of other people. So any time you’re hunting in a residential area I would say you’re likely not hunting with the lives of other people in consideration.”
Norris said he’s never seen anything like this before.
“Not right in a populated [area], within such a close proximity to people’s houses. We’ve had other ones where people are fairly close to neighbouring residences. I’ve never seen one where someone’s potentially only standing 25 yards from someone’s house,” he said.
At this time, Norris said he is not able to release more specific details about the incident, but he and his counterparts are urging the public to contact them or the RCMP with any tips or possible insights into the person responsible for this act. People can use the conservation office’s RAPP line (1-877-952-7277) to make a report. Tips can also be made anonymously and there is a potential cash reward for anyone whose information leads to the successful prosecution of the person involved.
“We would like to catch the perpetrator. This is very dangerous behaviour,” said Norris. “We don’t condone any behaviour that’s going to put the lives and safety of other people in jeopardy and we take this one very seriously.”