VANCOUVER -- Animal welfare groups are offering a $1,000 reward for information after the mangled carcass of a young black bear was found in West Vancouver.

The North Shore Black Bear Society says the carcass was first smelled by a couple hiking about a kilometre off Cypress Bowl Road on the Westlake Fire Road on July 1.

"They said that they smelled death," said Christine Miller, executive director of the North Shore Black Bear Society. "It was some kind of decomposing body that they smelled."

Miller says the couple returned to the area on July 5 to try to find the source of the smell and discovered the decaying body of a young black bear.

"When it was examined more closely by others, it was discovered that it had been sliced open in the abdominal area and that the organs had been removed," Miller said.

The North Shore Black Bear Society and the Fur-Bearers believe poaching is responsible for the animal's death and are offering a hefty reward for information in the investigation.

Miller says the incision in its abdominal area appeared to have been cut by a blade, and it didn't look like it had been chewed open by a predator. Empty ice bags and three pairs of disposable gloves were also found alongside the carcass.

Miller couldn't confirm specifically which organs had been removed from the bear, but said its cavity was "pretty much empty."

In February, five people were convicted of illegal wildlife trafficking for smuggling black bear parts from Saskatchewan to Ontario. The case involved the trafficking of paws and gallbladders. Police said at the time the paws were used to make soup and the fat was boiled down for use in skin creams.

Miller says it's unusual to see this kind of thing happen, and is only aware of two carcasses found in this condition in the 15 years she's worked for the black bear society. But she believes there have likely been more incidents that have gone undetected.

"I'm not naïve enough to believe there are only a few. I believe that this happens more than we know," she said.

"The whole North Shore, including other communities where there are bears, there's so many places that a carcass can be disposed of that people would never find. So I believe it happens, it's just occasionally it's found by somebody."

Miller says the incident is very concerning as the bear appears to have been specifically targeted for its organs.

"These bears already have so much to deal with living near residential areas and staying safe, and then to have somebody out showing utter disrespect and disregard for their life is just alarming," she said. "It's very disgusting and very disturbing."

The groups hope the reward will provide an incentive for people who know what happened to come forward and help with the investigation.

"Poaching is extremely concerning and those responsible must be held accountable," said Lesley Fox, executive director of the Fur-Bearers, in a statement.

Anyone with more information is asked to contact the RAPP line at 877-952-7277.

With files from the Canadian Press.