BY CLAIRE CUDAHY
You can imagine Jodi McKenzie’s surprise when she and her friends watched two individuals pursue and shoot a black bear with a crossbow right in the middle of downtown Red Lake.
Just after 10 p.m. on Aug. 10, McKenzie saw a “massive” black bear come out by Lakeside Marine on Hwy 105.
“It was sauntering across the road and going towards Warehouse One. Just as he got out of sight, these two guys come running from across the street—from the Red Lake Outfitters area,” recalls McKenzie. “I was thinking, ‘Oh my god, they’re chasing this bear.’”
One of the individuals was carrying a flashlight and the other what McKenzie first thought was a gun.
“They ran towards The Water Buffalo, running along, and then the one guy ran behind. Basically what happened was one must have gotten up around behind and spooked the bear back out,” continues McKenzie.
“They were right between these two buildings, and there was a light there. I said, ‘Oh my god, that guy has a gun.’ But when he shot, all we heard was a pop, so I thought they were shooting the bear with a BB gun.”
McKenzie and her two friends got a good look at the situation when the visibly agitated bear ran across the parking lot at Lakeside Marine.
“Just as he came up into the light, I saw a big frickin’ arrow sticking out of its left side, just behind its front leg,” explains McKenzie.
At this point, the witnesses decided to call the OPP.
“There were three of us that watched this. Obviously these guys did not see us doing it,” says McKenzie. “When I called the OPP they were there in three minutes flat, and the men were still outside when the cops pulled up. One officer came over to talk to us and told us the men said they weren’t taunting the bear. All three of us told the officer that it’s obviously a lie. We watched this whole thing go down.’”
According to McKenzie, she described the arrow she saw protruding from the bear to the officer, and was told that the crossbow of the individual who shot the bear was confiscated.
The OPP and Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF) are both investigating the incident, but have not released the names of the individuals involved in the shooting.
“Officers attended and searched the area for the bear, but it was not located, nor was any further reports of an injured bear received,” reads a release sent out by the Red Lake OPP on Aug. 14. “An investigation into the incident is underway.”
The MNRF declined to comment on the incident because the investigation is ongoing.
McKenzie, who wrote a detailed Facebook post about the incident soon after it occured, says she got some backlash from one commenter.
“This girl said, ‘That’s only half the story.’ There were three witnesses and each of us had the same story. Whatever their story was to the OPP did not coincide with what we said.”