Environmental authorities are investigating the brutal slaying of a black bear cub in a Coahuila town where residents tortured the protected animal before killing it as police officers looked on.
Believed to be looking for water, the approximately four-month-old cub entered the town of Castaños, located in the Castaños municipality near Monclova, where locals beat it, tied its legs together, dragged it along the ground and choked it to death with a rope. Photos posted to social media show police observing the cruelty and even smiling as it occurred.
Federal environmental protection agency Profepa said Tuesday that it was preparing a criminal complaint against those responsible for the killing of the bear, which could be classified as a “crime against biodiversity.”
It said that the perpetrators could face jail time and fines and stressed that it is committed to the protection of wildlife.
High-profile environmental activist Arturo Islas Allende tweeted about the attack a day earlier, urging Coahuila Governor Miguel Riquelme and Profepa to act quickly to sanction police and the “misfits” that “tied up, beat, dragged and choked” the cub, which “came down [to the town] to drink water.”
In a subsequent Facebook post, Islas asserted that the bear was treated “worse than the cruelest criminal in Castaños.”
“What they did to this animal is a federal crime. … It’s infuriating to see … that police were present and they did nothing more than smile and enjoy themselves as if it was a circus event,” he wrote. “… What a thought – there’s a bear looking for water, let’s kill it as a team. What a disgrace Coahuila!”
A few hours after Profepa acknowledged the barbaric torture and killing of the bear, Governor Riquelme said that his government “vigorously rejected the outrageous actions” of those involved.
“Profepa and the Coahuila environmental protection agency are in charge of the investigations into the death of an endangered specimen and the mistreatment to which it was subjected,” he wrote on Twitter.
The governor said the state Attorney General’s Office was also investigating and would seek to punish those responsible for abusing the animal.
“The black bear is a living symbol of conservation in Coahuila. We must all respect its life and environment,” Riquelme added.