PUBLISHED: 05:11 GMT, 26 April 2012 | UPDATED: 05:34 GMT, 26 April 2012
Wildlife officials in California are asking the public to be on the lookout for the cruel poacher who sawed a dead cougar’s paws off.
Authorities said the suspect removed the feet as apparent souvenirs of the mountain lion after it was struck and killed by a car.
The responding officer instead found the cougar dead on the road, pulled it to the side and contacted a game warden to dispose of the carcass.
The patrol believes the animal was chasing a fawn, which was found safe nearby, when it was struck by a vehicle.
He said the poacher, who likely knew where to find the cougar by listening to the police radio transmission, is likely planning to make jewellery out of the claws.
It is illegal in California possess mountain lion parts.
The incident may be related to two animal mutilations last fall, according to MSNBC.com.
Tim Dunbar, executive director of the California-based Mountain Lion Foundation, told the website that two male mountain lions were found mutilated.
Mr Dunbar said that one of the animals had been shot, and the other was hit by a car, and both had paws and genitals removed from the carcasses.
In this case, authorities are hoping a $2,000 reward will be enough to entice someone who knows the poacher to turn them in.
California Fish and Wildlife Department spokesman Andrew Hughan told MSNBC.com: ‘Money talks and hopefully the reward will go up and somebody will rat them out.’