Sacred white ‘spirit moose’ killed by hunters, outraging indigenous population

First Nations in Canada are mourning the loss of a rare white moose, asking “why” anyone with a license to hunt would choose their ghostly “spirit” animal.

In Timmins, Ontario, two female moose were found shot and left discarded along a service road, bodies intact, including a sacred white cow, The Guardian reported. The poachers had evidently ignored the many signs warning against killing the legally protected creatures.

“Everybody is outraged and sad. Why would you shoot it? No one needs one that bad,” said Chief Murray Ray, 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 uncommon white moose get their ashen coloring from a recessive gene, and are revered similarly as white bison, raven and grizzly bears.

“It saddens me that somebody would take such a beautiful animal,” said Flying Post community member Troy Woodhouse. “Nobody knows exactly how many are in the area, so the loss of a single spirit moose is one too many.”

Woodhouse recalled to the The Guardian the first time he spotted a young white bull moose with his wife near his grandfather’s home, who lived in the region.

“It was a sign that he’s watching over us on the land. It was very special to me,” he said.

Wildlife photographer Mark Clement said he’d spotted at least four over the years, and estimated the region could be home to as many as 30.

In 2013, three hunters in Nova Scotia were charged with killing a white moose by the Mi’kmaq people, and were forced to return the animal’s pelt to the tribe, though they kept the head as a trophy. The pelt became a centerpiece for a days-long mourning ceremony by the Mi’kmaq.

Wildlife officials are asking locals to help lead to the killer. Woodhouse and others in the area, including animal activists and a sympathetic drilling company, have pooled $8,000 ($6,121) for anyone who can lead to the culprit.

“Maybe hunters tried to get one moose and got the other by accident. If a person does come forward and admit what they did, I would put my portion towards any of their legal fees,” said Woodhouse. “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.”

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