Conservation officers are searching for whoever is responsible for killing a family of grizzly bears and dumping their bodies on a logging road in northwest B.C.

The dead bears were found Oct. 16 near the community of Granisle, about 320 kilometres northwest of Prince George.

"They appear to be a family group, being a sow and a couple of cubs," said Flint Knibbs, one of the officers investigating the killing. 

Potential impact on grizzly populations

Knibss said that although there is a "fairly healthy" grizzly population in the region, the loss of a sow and two cubs would likely have an impact on a species considered at-risk in the province.

Earlier this year, B.C. grizzly bear expert Lana Ciareniello warned of the impact of losing female grizzlies.

"They are very, very slow reproducing, especially as you get into the Interior of the province and off the salmon streams," she said. "We do not want to be losing or killing adult females." 

Grizzly Grizzlies

Grizzly bears are slow to reproduce, so the death of a breeding female can have a major impact on overall population numbers. (Government of Alberta)

Knibbs reiterated that point.

"There's no season for shooting cubs. Obviously, there's no season for shooting sows with cubs in their accompaniment," he said.

"You can't just shoot grizzly bears and leave them without taking them. You have to be properly licensed, so there's a whole host of issues there."

Reward for information

Knibbs said the killings violated numerous parts of the B.C. Wildlife Act and that even if the killings were in self-defence, it needed to be reported to the Conservation Officer Service.

He noted the bodies of the bears are intact and couldn't speculate on what the motivation for the killing might have been.

The B.C Wildlife Federation offers rewards of up to $2,000 for information leading to convictions in cases of illegal hunting. Knibbs asked anyone with information to call the service's hotline at 1-877-962-7277, adding any information is helpful to the investigation.

"I don't know if they were shot in town, and then somebody loaded them up and took them out here, or if they were shot in the woods ... I don't know," he said.

"They were dumped, essentially in the middle of nowhere, on a logging road, so we definitely have our work cut out for us."‚Äč

With files from Lisa Johnson and Betsy Trumpener.