SANTA CLARITA (CBSLA.com) — Wildlife officials Friday were investigating the mutilation of young bear that was struck by a vehicle in Canyon Country.
Caltrans workers found the bear, believed to have been about two years old and around 150 pounds, on Highway 14 near Sand Canyon Road, according to the state Department of Fish and Wildlife. Its four paws and gallbladder had been removed.
"For somebody else to come over and maim the animal after it's already dead or wounded, that's just not right at all as far as I'm concerned," said Todd Werner of Canyon Country.
Fish and Wildlife spokesman Andrew Hughan told the Los Angeles Times investigators believe the bear was mutilated after it was hit.
"There were no signs of a gunshot, broken legs or hip — this was a crime of opportunity," Hughan was quoted as saying. "We are very confident it was hit by a car. This desecration of the body was done afterward."
The department of fish and wildlife says cutting animal parts off road kill is illegal.
Buying or selling bear parts is illegal in California. Bear gallbladders, which are believed to have medicinal or aphrodisiac powers, can sell for thousands of dollars on the black market, and bear paws can be cooked and eaten.
Doctor Jeremy Fischer is a naturopathic physician who's also a practitioner of Chinese medicine. He says he's never used gull bladders in his practice because it's illegal, but acknowledged that it used to be a part of Eastern Medicine.
"In the past it was very widely used in Chinese medicine for toxic heat symptoms which basically we can think of fevers, convulsions, hemorrhoids, infections," said Fischer.
The Department of Fish and Wildlife says the dead bear's body was returned to its habitat - where it can become a part of the food chain.
Anyone with information about the case was urged to call Fish and Wildlife investigators at (888) 334-2258.
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