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Dead Bear Found With Claws Missing

May 28, 1999|MATT SURMAN

The state Department of Fish and Game is considering citing a number of people who removed three claws from a dead bear along the side of Highway 126 near Piru.

Driver Herbert Wright III, 52, of Stevenson Ranch, hit the 450- to 500-pound black bear about a mile west of Hopper Canyon about 10 p.m. Wednesday. The bear died instantly, and Wright's car had moderate front-end damage, said Officer Dave Cockrill of the California Highway Patrol.

A CHP officer passing the accident site at 6:45 a.m. Thursday saw a number of people around the bear trying to remove its claws. The officer took their names, but they were not arrested.

Warden John Castro of the Department of Fish and Game was called to the scene and moved the bear into the woods. He discovered three of the animal's claws were missing, one of which was recovered.

After an investigation, Castro could cite the people who took the claws, said Patrick Moore, a Fish and Game spokesman in Long Beach. It is illegal to do so unless a licensed hunter has shot the bear.

"There have been many cases of shooting bears illegally," said Moore. "But this is the first case like this I've heard in 17 years."

Moore suspected that the claws could have been taken as souvenirs or for possible sale.

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