First Nation communities in Canada are in a state of shock and anger after a rare white moose, seen as a “spirit” animal to indigenous people, was killed by suspected poachers.
The rare white moose, seen as a sacred creature by the native culture, was killed by poachers near the city of Timmins, Ontario, leaving locals in a state of mourning.
The corpses of two female moose, including a majestic white cow, were discovered shot and discarded along a service road with their entire bodies intact, including the head, reports The Guardian.
Local residents have traditionally revered the white moose population – as wel as white animals including bison, ravens, and grizzly bears – who have a ghostly pallor due to a recessive gene, and have been sighted moving quietly among the aspen and pine forests of the region.
Community leaders are perplexed about the seemingly needless execution of the creature.
“Everybody is outraged and sad. Why would you shoot it? No one needs one that bad,” remarked Chief Murray Ray of the Flying Post First Nation. “If you have a license to shoot a cow moose, you could shoot another one. Just leave the white ones alone.”
The incident is now under investigation by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry.
Signs around the area warn against killing the creatures, which are now under legal protection under laws that locals fought hard for.
“I really hope they find the people that are responsible for this and they’re charged,” Murray added.
Troy Woodhouse, a fellow member of the Flying Post First Nation community, noted that anyone who sees the moose in person would likely realize “how much of a sacred animal it is and rare and majestic to see.”
“It saddens me that somebody would take such a beautiful animal,” Woodhouse added. “Nobody knows exactly how many are in the area, so the loss of a single spirit moose is one too many.”
Woodhouse fondly remembers the first time that he saw a young white bull moose alongside his wife near the home of his grandfather’s home, which is also in the region.
“It was a sign that he’s watching over us on the land. It was very special to me,” he said.
Woodhouse has personally volunteered to give CAD $1,000 to anyone who volunteers any information that leads to the hunters’ arrest, or for them if the killing was a mistake and they decide to turn themselves in. Others, including animal rights activists and a drilling company, have contributed CAD $8,000 (USD $6,121) for a pool that will go to anyone who can help find the culprit.
“Maybe hunters tried to get one moose and got the other by accident,” he added. “If a person does come forward and admit what they did, I would put my portion towards any of their legal fees. There’s so much negativity in the world today. It’s nice to just see some people banding together and trying to turn this into something positive.”
The creatures are extremely rare in the region. Wildlife photographer Mark Clement, who says that he has seen at least four over the years, estimates that only 30 of the white moose reside in the area.
This isn’t the first time that the slaying of the creatures has outraged indigenous communities in Canada.
In 2013, three hunters killed a white moose in Nova Scotia and faced charges by the Mi’kmaq people. They were eventually forced to return the animal’s pelt to Mi’kmaq authorities so that a days-long mourning ceremony could be held to honor the rare and majestic creatures.
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