Bev McMullen had just returned to work after taking time off to mourn the loss of her mother. A professional news photographer with Metroland North Media Group, Bev shoots for several newspapers in the Muskoka area.
Bev was in her car, driving home after photographing a local hockey game, when she saw a truck on the side of the busy Highway 11. As she approached, the truck pulled out in front of her, drove a short distance and pulled over again. Bev saw many other cars stopped in the distance and decided to stop as well, her journalism instincts taking over.
“The first thing I saw was this beautiful bear,” Bev told APFA. “I hadn’t seen a bear all summer and I hadn’t seen a bear all fall. And here I see this beautiful bear in the middle of the road, very much alive.”
She walked up to the truck driver and said, “this bear is still alive.”
The man turned to her and said, “I know, I hit it.”
Bev then said she would contact the Ontario Provincial Police, who are often the first responders and capable of delivering a merciful death to severely injured wildlife. But the driver told her not to.
“At this time, the traffic was backing up, there were a lot of people and kids in cars and this really, poor hurt bear in the road,” she said. “I told him I’d call the OPP and he said, ‘nope, I’m going to find a big rock and kill it.’
“I did turn my head and he did smash the bear with a rock,” she added. “I am not lying, he did this like eight times to this bear, he was in a manic dance, trying to smash this bear’s skull in with this rock. After the sixth time, I thought this is absolutely wrong and cruel. I’m a photographer, I’m going to document this. I felt really bad, I absolutely did not want to, but I thought if I don’t do it, no one is going to believe me.”
She began shooting – at no time did the driver stop, or question Bev.
“At one point, the bear got up and crossed the road… after all that, the bear was kicked down and he started hitting it over the head.”
Bev and another witness began pleading with the man to stop – but he did not. Shortly after, another man arrived and helped carry the bear – who was incredibly still alive – to the man’s truck.
With her photographs as her weapon, Bev sought vengeance for the bear. She, along with her reporter and editor, contacted the OSPCA and provided the photos as evidence. Shortly thereafter, the man was charged by OSPCA investigators. His case has recently been adjourned to March, at which time charges will be formally announced.
It is believed that the bear was later killed.
Hear more about this harrowing incident from Bev McMullen herself on next week’s episode of Defender Radio.