Skeetchestn residents left 'sick' after bear shot dozens of times in middle of night | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Skeetchestn residents left 'sick' after bear shot dozens of times in middle of night

Image Credit: SUBMITTED/WildSafeBC - J. Courterus

Neighbours were left feeling sick after they watched a treed bear get shot dozens of times with an underpowered gun over almost an hour in a trailer park at the Skeetchestn Indian Band last month.

They watched and listened as a group shone flashlights at the tree and fired between 30 and 40 bullets late into the night, until the bear came down and the final killing gunshots were delivered.

"The terror it must have felt having to come down to the lights and very shots that are hurting and frightening it... there's almost nothing worse than that," Cindi Kutrieb-Farenholtz said. "That really rocked my faith for about a week. I can't reconcile it."

She was lying in bed around 11:30 p.m. Aug. 27 when she heard gunshots at her home west of Kamloops.

"What are you shooting at?" she called out to a group of people shining flashlights up a tree.

She and her friend Don Hall soon discovered a bear climbed up the trunk as bullets were fired toward it.

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How long it lasted and how many bullets actually struck the bear isn't clear, but Kutrieb-Farenholtz and Hall say there was at least 45 minutes of shooting until the bear came down. 

"I screamed when it ran away from the base of the tree and they fired," she said. "I said stop it, but they were shooting it to the very death at that point."

They said there were more than three dozen bullets fired at the bear until it came down and a final five fatal shots were delivered.

"It makes me feel sick the way they treated that bear," said Hall, who is an experienced hunter.

He added that he's concerned the rifle the group used was underpowered, suggesting it may have been a small calibre rifle, unable to down a bear in just a couple shots. Hall works for the Band casually and the incident heightened his concern for wildlife treatment in the area, recalling an investigation into 17 slaughtered wild horses on its territory earlier this year.

The bear shooting took place in a trailer park around 900 Vidette Road on reserve land, where residents are largely, if not all, non-band members.

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The perpetrators, Kutrieb-Farenholtz said, came down from a nearby home. A neighbour told her the bear was encroaching on another property and they were forcing it away. Whether it was a danger to anyone that night before it was chased into a tree isn't clear, but both Hall and Kutrieb-Farenholtz believe it was unnecessary to continue to shoot at the bear once it was chased into a tree so late at night.

The group left once the bear was dead, but returned to drag it away by truck and spray the bloodied grass with water, Kutrieb-Farenholtz said. It was around 3 a.m.

She called 911 to report the shooting after it was over, but police didn't respond that night.

Tk'emlups Rural RCMP spokesperson Cpl. Crystal Evelyn initially told CFJC an officer arrived that night, but later corrected that statement to say police "followed up" with people involved later. asked when police arrived in the area, but she did not say.

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"Based on the investigation, the incident is not believed to be criminal in nature, and was done in a defensive manner," Evelyn said in an emailed response. 

Evelyn also said Kutrieb-Farenholtz was advised to contact BC Conservation if she was concerned about the treatment of the animal, which she did, but it's not clear whether conservation officers are still investigating.

For Kutrieb-Farenholtz, she said she doesn't want to see the shooter, or the several others in the group, punished. She wanted to voice her concern about the "torture" of an animal in her neighbourhood. reached out to Skeetchestn chief Darell Draney, but he was not available to respond.

The BC Conservation Officer Service is "aware of the incident and looking into it." A spokesperson for the Ministry of Environment did not provide any further details.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Levi Landry or call 250-819-3723 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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