Decapitated bear discovered

Published 12:00 am Friday, March 2, 2007

JACKSON – Thomas Byrd is miffed.

The Conway man wants to know two things…(1) who would kill and then decapitate a black bear, leaving its body along the side of the road; and (2) why does the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission choose not to investigate?

Traveling along NC 305 at Cedar Fork near Jackson on Tuesday, Byrd noticed a black bear lying on the side of the road. Upon stopping to investigate the situation, Byrd saw that the bear’s head and paws had been removed.

Using every ounce of energy within him, Byrd managed to roll the 400-pound bear off the shoulder of the road and into a ditch.

“The bear was still warm, so I knew whoever did this had done it earlier in the morning,” Byrd said as he made reference to his approximate 11 a.m. time of arrival.

“His head and his paws had been cut off,” Byrd said. “I suspect with the overall lack of a lot of blood at the scene that this killing and decapitation had occurred somewhere else and the body dumped where I found it.”

Byrd had a few choice words for the person or persons responsible.

“It’s sick…whoever done it, they’re sick,” Byrd said. “I don’t understand why someone would choose to do this; I guess it was to use the head and paws as a trophy.”

He continued, “I can see someone using the meat for consumption; some people like the taste of bear meat. But that wasn’t the case here. This is sick and the thought of someone doing this to a bear disgusts me.”

Byrd said he was also disappointed that the Wildlife Commission chose not to investigate.

“I called them as soon as I got home and they said the lack of leads would prevent them from doing an investigation,” Byrd noted. “Well, I say if this was a human being found decapitated on the side of the road, wouldn’t you think law enforcement would do everything they could to develop leads?”

In response, a Wildlife Commission spokesperson said it wasn’t possible to charge someone in this particular case without knowledge of who was responsible.

As for not responding at all to the scene, according to the Wildlife Commission website, it falls upon the North Carolina Department of Transportation to remove dead animals along roadways. The exception to that policy involves dead or injured black bear. In those cases, a wildlife biologist will come to the scene to collect information prior to the animal being taken away by DOT for burial.

However, in this particular case, the biologist did not respond due to the circumstances. The information the biologist seeks is contained in the bear’s molar teeth. Since there was no head in this case, there were no teeth for the biologist to extract and further study.

The Wildlife Commission spokesperson confirmed that bear season ended in December and that anyone caught purposely killing a bear or in possession of bear parts faced a very stiff fine.

Local and regional taxidermists are urged to be on alert for anyone bringing in a bear head and paws for mounting.