The North Carolina Wildlife Commission has opened a criminal investigation into the maiming of bears in the Asheville area.
Earlier this year, a dozen bears were reported with either missing or injured limbs in the area.
A Wildlife spokesperson tells 7News “We are only looking into every possible scenario. The search warrant was applied for based on probable cause. As such, it is part of a criminal investigation.”
Back in August, biologists with the NC Wildlife Commission had said the probable cause of the injuries were cars. But the group Help Asheville Bears maintained the missing limbs were more in line with man made traps.
This week the enforcement branch of NC Wildlife said “”The NC Wildlife Resources Commission has not alleged anyone’s involvement in regards to the missing limbs.” But in an email to 7News the agency also said “search warrants can only be granted if a judge deems there is enough probable cause. We are investigating all leads.”
Help Asheville Bears spoke this week at Asheville’s City Council meeting saying in part, “With the help of several veterinary and wildlife experts including a forensic veterinary pathologist from the University of Florida, we know that these excruciatingly painful debilitating amputation injuries were caused by a snare trap or ligature.”
The group plans to speak at the Henderson County Commission meeting Dec 2 and the Buncombe County Commission meeting Dec. 3.