RCMP have recovered the body of a man thought to have died in his car before he was dragged out of it and partially buried by a black bear in a remote area about an hour from Kamloops.
Staff Sgt. Grant Learned said some hunters discovered the man’s abandoned 1986 Volkswagon Jetta around 6 p.m. Wednesday and phoned police. They found the driver’s dismembered and partially eaten remains about 120 metres from the car, covered in brush.
Hard drug paraphernalia and a liquor bottle were found in the car and Learned said there is no indication the bear killed the man.
“The window was fully down on the driver’s side, it wasn’t broken,” he said.
“There were muddy bear paws on the side of the vehicle, the metal on the side of the vehicle just under the window was dented … and the molding around the window had been pulled down … so all of the indicators suggested that the body had been removed from the vehicle.”
Coroners are still trying to confirm the man’s identity, but the car is registered to a 54-year-old who had recently moved to Kamloops. An autopsy will likely be conducted to determine the cause of death. So far police have not been able to contact the owner’s next of kin.
Learned said the owner of the Jetta was last seen in Kamloops on May 23, and early indications are he died just a few days before his body was found.
Conservation officers attempted to trap the bear Wednesday night, but Learned did not
know if they were successful.
Environment Minister Terry Lake said to ensure the protection of the public, the bear will be destroyed if it is found.
Provincial large carnivore expert Tony Hamilton, a renowned bear biologist, said the black bear was exhibiting a normal behaviour known as caching.
“Grizzlies and blacks do it,” he said. “I’ve seen multiples of both in my career, and I don’t think that anyone on the globe has ever really fully understood why they evolved to do it.”
He said the best explanation is that, being omnivores, bears are slower at digesting meat, so they have to store carcasses they have killed or scavenged.
“They cache because they’re going to be around a while. The meat is going to supply them for a while, so it reduces competition with others,” Hamilton explained.
He said anyone who comes across a cache site, which is indicated by the smell of meat and a pile of brush or vegetation, should get away from it as bears guard their caches fiercely.
He said he’s only ever heard of a case like this one time before in his career, at least a decade ago, when a black bear was found guarding the body of a murder victim that had been wrapped in garbage bags on Mount Seymour.
-With a file from The Canadian Press