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'It smelled like death' | Severed bear head found in a Stockton park tree

California Department of Fish and Wildlife investigators are looking into who left a bear's head in a tree at Louis Park last week.

STOCKTON, Calif. — The discovery of a bear head sitting atop a tree at Stockton's Louis Park on Friday has officials with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife investigating the case.

Captain Patrick Foy of the department's law enforcement division confirmed to ABC10 Monday his department is investigating the case.

"There's also been recent sightings reported of bears wandering in Tracy — we have no reason to believe these events are connected," he told ABC10. "This kind of case where it appears the bear head was placed for dramatic purposes, we don't usually get that."

Foy said that at this time the only identifiable crime, in this case, would be improper disposal of an animal carcass. That's punishable by at least a $250 fine for first-time offenders.

"Stockton PD got in touch with us once they saw the scene," Foy said. "I figured they knew exactly who they were going to call to check this out."

Credit: John Perrin
The head of a bear was found in Louis Park in Stockton on Sunday. (Photo from John Perrin)

While fishing at Louis Park on Friday, park visitor John Perrin noticed a face looking back at him in the middle of a tree — it was the unattached bear head.

Perrin told ABC10 he thought the bear head to be a cat at first, but upon closer inspection, he was able to grasp what was actually in front of him.

"At first I wasn't sure if it was real, but then I saw the flies buzzing around. It smelled like death," Perrin said. "There really aren't even bears in Stockton, like there's no reason for that bear head to be there."

More and more people followed closely behind him in examining the unattached head. Perrin said he overheard someone in the group comment that the head had been there the day before as well.

Stockton police confirmed to ABC10 they responded to calls regarding the scene at the park on Friday around 4 p.m.

Officers then referred the so-far unexplained case to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. Perrin said he also contacted the department to alert them of the situation but has yet to hear back as of Monday.

"I'm here all the time and that has to be the craziest thing I've seen out here," Perrin said. "And I've seen some wild things go down here."