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Dead man eaten by bear was convicted murderer

A black bear like this one that has been feasting on human remains it found on a remote road south of Kamloops, B.C., is now the target of conservation officers.

A man whose dead body was partly eaten by a bear on a remote road near Kamloops, B.C., was a convicted murderer who had been reported missing last week.

The B.C. Coroner's Service and the RCMP say 53-year-old Rory Nelson Wagner had been living in Kamloops before he vanished.

The National Parole Board has confirmed Mr. Wagner pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in 1994.

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He and two others were charged with killing a Langley, B.C., man in 1993 who they believed had sexually assaulted their family member.

The parole documents show the murder victim was charged with the sexual assault, but was found not guilty shortly before he was killed.

Authorities say they don't believe Mr. Wagner's death in his car was a result of suicide. The bear dragged his body out of the vehicle, ate part of it and buried the rest.

He had been reported missing May 23, 2012.

Hunters came across the remains earlier this week after finding an abandoned Volkswagen Jetta on a logging road earlier this week.

The Coroner's Service said Friday an autopsy and toxicology tests will be conducted to determine Mr. Wagner's cause of death.

"It's not going to be particularly difficult. In any case, it does take several weeks for toxicology results to come back. It's fairly standard," said coroner Mark Coleman.

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Even though the bear did not kill Mr. Wagner, Environment Minister Terry Lake has said conservation officers are hunting for the animal in order to ensure public safety.

However, Darcy MacPhee, acting conservation inspector for the Thompson-Cariboo region, said it's premature to assume the bear will be destroyed.

Mr. MacPhee said traps have been set and the bear's behaviour will be assessed before it is killed.

"Even if we caught the offending animal, we would still make a determination at that time," he said in an interview.

"It is likely that if we caught the animal that we believe to be responsible . . . it is likely we would euthanize it, but we still have the opportunity, because of the type of equipment we're using, to make that call on scene."

The car was discovered within two kilometres of some homes and campsites.

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