A longtime resident of Thetis Island said he’s never seen a bear on the island. (Photo by Don Bodger)

Dead black bear washes up on Thetis Island

Conservation officer determines it had been in the ocean for a long time

A dead black bear has mysteriously turned up on Thetis Island.

Chris, a longtime resident who asked that his last name not be used, was mystified by the find Monday morning in Preedy Harbour.

“We don’t have any bears on Thetis Island to our knowledge,” he said. “No bears here, cougars sometimes. It’s actually quite high on the beach.”

A colleague contacted the BC Conservation Officer Service. The immediate concern was whether the bear had been killed by a hunter or died of natural causes.

Andrew Riddell of the BC Conservation Officer Service confirmed the latter after reviewing a photo and videos of the bear taken by Chris.

“It looks like that bear’s been in the ocean for a long time, based on how the hide’s been washed off,” said Riddell.

“Currents could have brought it from anywhere for it to wash up on Thetis Island.”

He determined it’s a big male and not a cub, and “anything could have killed it.”

Some of the decomposition seen could have resulted from predators in the ocean and the weather.

The bear remains on the beach and Riddell said no investigation will be necessary to determine how it died. Being on an island presents some challenges for disposal, but somebody will have to be found on Thetis for that task, he added, and information has been passed along to the Duncan Conservation office.

The beached carcass has a nasty odour and Chris reported birds were on it.

Riddell said one other call to the Report All Poachers and Polluters tip line about the bear indicated its paws had been removed, which would have constituted an offense and required an investigation, but the photo and videos refuted that claim.

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