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TORONTO (Reuters) - Canadian police said on Friday they plan to launch an investigation into a macabre prank, after what was thought to be a severed human foot that washed up on the Pacific Coast turned out to be a hoax.
"Whether it was something that was done for a laugh or as a joke or for attention, it's not something that will be tolerated," Royal Canadian Mounted Police Const. Annie Linteau told Reuters.
The RCMP has appealed to the public for information and will begin further investigations soon, Linteau said.
The British Columbia Coroners Service confirmed on Thursday that the sneaker-clad "foot," discovered on a Vancouver Island beach on Wednesday, was actually a skeletonized animal paw placed inside a seaweed-stuffed sock.
The find came just days after an actual human foot was found floating south of Vancouver on Monday. That incident marked the fifth sneaker-clad foot to be found in the region since last August.
Speculation has run rampant about the finds, with some suggesting they may be the remains of accident victims.
Sally Feast, of Campbell River, British Columbia, is one of four area women whose husbands were lost in a float plane crash three years ago. The bodies of three, including Feast's, were never recovered and she said she hopes police will find the culprit behind the hoax.
"That's just a rotten thing for someone to do, especially in our town where everybody knows about the crash," she said.
Experts note that fish and animals eat away at corpses in the water, while the feet are protected by shoes, and then later drift ashore.
Currents and tides in the region are such that it's not possible to say where the victims first entered the water, and DNA testing has so far failed to link the feet to any missing person in the Western Canadian province.
Editing by Rob Wilson