10/16/2013 02:12 EDT | Updated 12/16/2013 05:12 EST

Jewel, Grizzly Bear, Feared Poached Near Lillooet

LILLOOET, B.C. - Conservation officers believe poachers may have killed a B.C. grizzly bear that was one of only a few animals in a unique sub-species of the bruin.

The grizzly, dubbed Jewel, was fitted with a radio collar and relocated last year to an area near Lillooet, about 260 kilometres northeast of Vancouver.

But Jewel has not been seen since October 2012 and in June of this year its radio collar was found by a survey crew near Texas Creek, about 20 kilometres south of Lillooet.

Conservation officials say the bear was one of six females from the highly threatened Stein-Nahatalatch grizzly population, which is unique because of its genetic isolation.

Jewel was considered vital to studies of the bears but officials now hope someone will come forward with information that could track its killer.

The BC Wildlife Federation pays rewards up to $2,000 for information leading to the conviction of people who violate laws related to the protection of fish, wildlife or the environment.

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