Group offers $8.5K reward for information on slain cougar cubs on Vancouver Island

A cougar and its cubs are pictured in this file photo. (iStock)

Volunteers are offering a reward of $8,500 for information on two cougar kittens that were illegally shot and killed on Vancouver Island.

The cubs were poached sometime last week near Hill 60 Forest Service Road in the Cowichan Valley, according to the B.C. Conservation Officer Services (BCCOS).

Initially, the BCCOS said both cubs were found with their heads and paws removed. Later, conservation officers said only one cub was missing its head, while both were missing their paws.

"Whether it would be a trophy, or whether it would be a chew toy for somebody's dog, we can't say, at this point," said conservation officer Robin Sano on Friday.

On Monday, conservation group the Fur-Bearers said that volunteers had contributed a combined $8,500 reward for information on who may have killed the cougar cubs.

In B.C., it's illegal to kill cougars that are under the age of one, or who are living in a family unit.

Sano said the cougar kittens were likely near their mother at the time of the poaching.

"We are looking for members to basically report anything unusual, if somebody turns up with cougar paws or reports that they have shot young cougars that's what we would be interested in," said Sano.

Anyone with information can contact the Report All Poachers and Polluters (RAPP) hotline at 1-877-952-7277.

Some of the larger contributors to the Fur-Bearers' information reward include two people who donated $1,000 each, and one person who donated $5,000.

"It is a heartwarming reminder that the majority of British Columbians admire and respect our wildlife, and that we all agree there is no place for poaching in our communities," said Aaron Hofman, director of advocacy and policy for the Fur-Bearers

With files from The Canadian Press