Bear paw found at Toronto waste station

09/21/2012 11:43 EDT | Updated 11/21/2012 05:12 EST
A discovery at a Toronto waste transfer station first thought to be human remains has turned out to be a bear paw.

At about 11 a.m. on Friday, a worker at the Dufferin Transfer Station near Dufferin and Finch Avenue West spotted what at first appeared to be a human hand.

The gates were closed, work was halted and police were called in. But after further investigation, police discovered the remains were not human.

"As a result of the investigation through the coroner's office those remains are determined not to be human, they're actually bear parts," said Det. Andrew Taylor of the Toronto Police Service. “Obviously we're still interested to find out why there are bear parts in the garbage."

Police are now looking into the possibility the discovery was the result of the illegal trade in bear parts, something not uncommon in the GTA.

Last month, the remains of four bears were found dumped in Burlington, west of Toronto. They were missing paws and gall bladders, ingredients used in traditional Asian medicine, and capable of fetching high prices on the international black market.

Liz White is the director of the advocacy group Animal Alliance. She says poaching is hard to track.

"Animal parts in odd locations raises all kinds of concerns about whether the animal was there [due to] illegitimate purposes, such as poaching and the purchase of bear gall bladders, bear paws for trade,” she told CBC News.

Police are continuing to investigate.