Wildlife officials investigate after dead grizzly bear found near Grande Prairie

Fish and Wildlife investigators in Grande Prairie are asking for tips after a young grizzly bear was found shot to death.

The one-year-old female was shot dead on a rural road south of the city

Fish and Wildlife officers in Grande Prairie say the young grizzly bear found dead on Weyerhaeuser main haul road south of Grande Prairie. (Alberta Fish and Wildlife Enforcement)

Fish and Wildlife investigators in Grande Prairie are asking for tips after a young grizzly bear was shot dead south of the city. 

Around 12:30 p.m. on Saturday, officers received a report from the Report A Poacher tip line that a body of a grizzly had been found on a rural branch road in the woods.

According to Alberta Fish and Wildlife, the one-year-old female grizzly was lying under a road barricade sign at kilometre 42.5 of the Weyerhaeuser Road.

Hunting grizzly bears is illegal in Alberta, but Brendan Cox, a spokesperson for Alberta Fish and Wildlife, said it is not yet clear if the animal was poached.

"Based on the size of this bear and the location where it was shot, it doesn't seem like it would have posed a direct threat to the shooter," Cox said. 

"But then again, we would like to get as much information as we can so we can put together the whole picture." 

A single gunshot wound was found on the bear, Cox said. 

"Rigor mortis had not set in yet," Cox said. "Officers believe, as a result, that the bear was shot a few hours prior to being reported."

The wounds on the bear also suggest the animal was standing when it was shot, and that the bear had been shot at the location where it was found. 

"There weren't any other signs or tracks that the bear had been moved from somewhere else," Cox said. 

"We encourage anyone who knows more to come forward." 

Grande Prairie Fish and Wildlife officers have talked to nearby hunters and canvassed other individuals in the area. 

Investigators are asking anyone with information on the case to contact the Grande Prairie district office at 780-538-5265 or the 24-hour Report A Poacher line at 1-800-642-3800.

Grizzly bears were listed as a threatened species under the Alberta Wildlife Act in Alberta in 2010 when it was determined there were only about 700 left. The numbers led to a recovery strategy aimed at reducing conflicts between bears and people.

Poaching remains a problem in Alberta. Statistics from 2017 show at least 39 grizzly bears have been killed illegally since the legal hunt ended in 2006.

"Hunting grizzly bears is unlawful," Cox said. "There is no situation in which you can hunt a grizzly bear. Self-defence is something else, but they are a threatened species and they are protected. 

"Any time that grizzly bear has been found killed, our officers have to get to the bottom of it."