British Columbia

Disappearance of Canuck the Crow sparks accusations of crow-napping

Canuck rivals point fingers at each other after beloved bird goes missing from East Vancouver neighbourhood.

Duelling Canuck enthusiasts believe the other may have something to do with the beloved bird going missing

Shawn Bergman says the people offering the $10,000 reward for the safe return of Canuck the Crow don't want to be contacted or identified. (Karin Larsen/CBC)

Vancouver's favourite crime scene-crashing, knife-stealing, SkyTrain-riding, feathered ambassador has been missing now for 12 days, leaving his many fans anxious and worried.

But the concern for Canuck the Crow's whereabouts is nothing compared to the drama taking place behind the scenes and on social media, where accusations of crow-napping, harassment and intimidation are flying between people who feel they have the wild bird's best interest at heart.

On one side is Shawn Bergman, the man who describes himself as Canuck's best friend. Bergman was featured in a short documentary and has 129,000 followers on a Facebook page with the same title — Canuck and I — where he regularly posts photos and videos.

On the other side is Linda Martin, owner of a different Canuck fan page — Canuck Crow Adventures with 2,700 followers — which also features frequent updates about the people-friendly bird.

Shawn Bergman with Canuck the Crow. (Shawn Bergman/Facebook)

Canuck became a media celebrity in 2016 after he stole a knife from a Vancouver crime scene.

Last year, he received more than 300,000 votes to win CBC's online poll to become Metro Vancouver's Unofficial Ambassador.

Last week, after Bergman declared Canuck missing, he announced a $10,000 reward for the safe return of the crow.

During an interview, he told CBC he believed someone may have captured Canuck. When pressed about who would be motivated to do such a thing, Bergman identified Martin and her Facebook page.

Linda Martin snapped this selfie with Canuck the Crow during a visit to his East Vancouver neighbourhood. (submitted by Linda Martin)

"I've essentially no proof, but it's a very big theory that someone who is as obsessed with Canuck as they are, coming out to the neighborhood on a near daily basis ... was very conspicuously absent from the neighbourhood the days after Canuck went missing," said Bergman.

"That's absolutely nonsense of course," said Martin when contacted about the accusation.

"I don't have any reason to take the bird just because I would go visit it all the time."

Martin has her own theory about what happened to Canuck, and, not surprisingly, believes Bergman is somehow responsible.

Rob Farquhar visits Canuck and his crow friends weekly in East Vancouver. (Karin Larsen/CBC)

"I don't have any proof," she said. "I think he knows where [Canuck] is."

Some of the discussion and comments on social media have also divided into camps and grown increasingly acrimonious.

Vancouver police confirm they have looked into complaints from each party made against the other from before Canuck's disappearance but say no investigations are currently open. Police also told CBC they are not investigating the missing crow.

Canuck was last seen Aug. 30 in the Cassiar and Hastings area he normally frequents. 

According to a person familiar with Canuck, the notion of a crow-napping is plausible because the bird has no fear of humans.

Canuck the Crow gained fame for stealing a knife from an East Vancouver crime scene. (Facebook/thecrowandI)

"Canuck is very forward at times. If your window was open, he'll come into you car," said Rob Farquhar, as he sat feeding crows in Canuck's neighbourhood. "If he knows you, he'll approach you. If you're wearing open-toed shoes, he'll bite your toe or undo your shoelaces."

Farquhar says he's aware of the crow-napping accusations but doesn't know what to make of them.

"There's a possibility, but it's all speculation. An accident or predator is also possible. Anything is possible."

In the meantime, volunteers continue to post notices about Canuck's disappearance and the $10,000 reward.

According to Bergman, a group of people put up the first $5,000 and then a single individual stepped forward to donate the remaining $5,000. 

CBC could not verify the reward with the donors, because Bergman said they wished to remain anonymous and didn't want to be contacted.

Canuck the Crow normally spends part of his day in this East Vancouver neighbourhood. (Karin Larsen/CBC)