In her three years living along the Nanaimo River in Cedar, just south of Nanaimo, Marilyn Zink said she had never seen anything as gruesome as the two dozen animal carcasses that were dumped in the river near her home.
Zink said the dead animals, which she believed at first to be goats but were identified by conservation officers as deer, were discovered by her daughter near the popular swimming spot close to the Cedar bridge.
She said the sight and smell of the carcasses is "disgusting" and she's concerned that nobody seems to be doing anything to remove them.
Zink said she fears they are a health hazard to the river and its surroundings, particularly in a location that is a well-known and a popular swimming area.
Conservation officer Stuart Bates visited the scene and said the deer appear to have been hunted and, judging from the marks on the bodies, were butchered for their meat and left at the site about a month ago. He said it's not uncommon to find discarded deer remains along the highways and trails in the region, although its rare to find such sites along the Nanaimo River.
"It's a really disgusting sight to see and it looks like someone dumped them into the river from the boat launch there," Zink said. "Whoever has dumped them has taken the easy way out."
Bates said the deer-hunting season has been closed since December for most hunters, although First Nations hunters have the right to shoot deer all year.
He said, if identified, the perpetrators could face charges under the province's Environmental Management Act for littering and under the Wildlife Act for attracting potentially dangerous predators to the area to feed off the carcasses.
Bates said that if the people responsible are not of First Nations origin, they could also face fines for hunting out of season.
"We're relying on people from the area who may have seen something in an effort to find the person or people responsible for dumping the dead deer," he said.
Anyone with information should call 1-877-952-7277.
Bates said there are no plans to remove the carcasses from the river and he doesn't believe they will cause any health hazards to local residents and swimmers in the river.
"They are now mostly just bones and are not dangerous to anyone," he said. "I'd say that during the next heavy rain, which is expected in the next few days, the carcasses will likely be washed out to the ocean."
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