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Latest 'foot' to wash ashore is animal paw

Bones found in a shoe on the British Columbia coast on Wednesday proved to be a skeletonised animal paw, not a human foot, Canadian authorities said Thursday.
/ Source: NBC News and news services

Bones found in a shoe on the British Columbia coast on Wednesday proved to be a skeletonised animal paw, not a human foot, Canadian authorities said Thursday.

A forensic pathologist and an anthropoligist determined the remains were an animal paw inserted into the shoe with a sock and packed with dried seaweed.

It was the second foot — or paw — discovered this week and the sixth within a year in a bizarre mystery that has confounded police.

Five human feet have been recovered within a few miles of each other along island shorelines in the Strait of Georgia, which lies to the south and west of the city of Vancouver.

Authorities say they haven't reached any conclusions about the origin of the feet but are working to determine if there are any links to any other partial remains recovered in the province.

Sgt. Mike Tresoor of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police said a citizen made the latest find on a beach near Campbell River and no other remains were found. The British Columbia Coroners Office is calling the incident a hoax.

No evidence of severing
A government press release said the other five incidents are still under investigation.

"Too my knowledge, we have not encountered anything like this," RCMP spokeswoman Annie Linteau told The Associated Press Wednesday evening. She declined to speculate if foul play was involved.

"In the first four cases, we did not find any evidence the feet were severed," she said.

She said the fifth case was being handled by local police and was not under RCMP jurisdiction.

Floated to shore
Terry Smith, the chief coroner of British Columbia, said this week that DNA profiles from the first three feet have not helped to determine identities because they have not matched any existing samples.

Smith and others have suggested that the feet didn't sink but floated to shore because they were encased in buoyant running shoes.

The first three feet washed ashore about 40 miles southwest of Vancouver on islands in the Strait of Georgia. The first foot was discovered last summer by beachcombers. Days later, a foot was found inside a man's Reebok sneaker. The remains of a third right foot were found Feb 8.

The fourth foot was found May 22 on Kirkland Island in the Fraser River, about 15 miles south of Vancouver. About a mile away, the fifth foot — the only left one found — was discovered Monday morning floating in water off Westham Island.

Local speculation has been rife with some reports claiming they belonged to victims of violent crimes or a plane crash.

Tresoor said major crime investigators from the Campbell River detachment, along with staff from the coroner's office, were investigating at the scene.

"The object will ultimately be examined by a forensic pathologist in attempts to determine the source of the foot and if it is related to other feet recently found," Tresoor said in a statement.

This report contains information from NBC News and The Associated Press.