B.C. man fined after attempting to save sick bear cub
Jenna Owsianik, CTV British Columbia
Published Sunday, August 19, 2012 5:21PM PDT
Last Updated Sunday, August 19, 2012 6:58PM PDT
An outdoorsman in northern B.C. said he was punished with a $345 fine for trying to save the life of a young bear.
Last spring, Ryan Neal discovered a starving, 11-pound cub while on a hunting trip with friends in the rural community of Rosswood. Several hours after first spotting the bear, he returned to the area and noticed the animal was still alone and struggling.
“We stopped at a distance and watched him for a while. He was really slow. He looked sick and tired and there was no sign of a mother around at all,” Neal said.
“He had no energy left and he let me walk right up to him. I just put my jacket over him and wrapped him up.”
Neal put the bear in his truck and drove to his home in Terrace where he could get phone reception. He said he tried calling a 24-hour provincial reporting line, but no one picked up when he was transferred to the Terrace conservation office.
He then called the Northern Lights Wildlife Society in Smithers. The society told Neal they would try to help the sickly cub, so he drove two hours to make the trip.
Society officials have since told CTV News the young bear died that night.
On Friday, Neal received a $345 ticket for illegal possession of wildlife for what he did.
The province’s highest ranking conservation officer, Lance Lundquist, wouldn’t talk about Neal’s case, but he said there are certain procedures to follow if a wild animal is found.
"If someone does see live wildlife and they feel that it's in distress or it's been abandoned… they really need to make contact through to the appropriate authorities. They can call through to the conservation officer's service; we have a call centre that operates 24 hours a day,” he said
"Because in some cases the wildlife isn't actually abandoned, the mother may be nearby."
Neal admits he made some mistakes, including posting photos on Facebook that he took of the bear before driving to the animal rehabilitation centre. The pictures grabbed the attention of wildlife officials and launched the action against him.
“I was trying to share that once-in-a-lifetime opportunity with my family,” he said.
Lundquist said information found online has increasingly tipped off his office in recent years.
“A number of our cases and prosecutions that have gone forward in the past several years have resulted through information that we've received by way of social media,” he said.
Despite being forced to pay a fine and recognizing what he did was illegal, Neal does not regret his actions.
“I think why this has gone where it has, as far as it has, is because I admitted I would do it again,” he said.
“I’m not worried about the money; it’s the principle behind trying to do the right thing and getting punished for it.”
With a report from CTV British Columbia's Penny Daflos