What do you do when you see a majestic, snow white moose in the forest? Why, shoot it of course! This, at least, seemed to be the reaction of three friends who were out hunting in Nova Scotia last week.
The three hunters stumbled across a rare albino moose while on their trip and proceeded to kill the animal and post several proud photos of themselves with the dead moose on social media sites – much to the dismay of the local Mi’kmaq indigenous community as well as the hunting community.
This particular moose had been living in the Belle Cote forest for many years under the protection of the local Mi’kmaq people, who believe that all white animals, or “spirit animals,” are sacred. Although killing an albino animal is not technically illegal, the indigenous people believe that harming one will bring bad luck and visiting hunters, out of respect, have obeyed this unwritten code of conduct.
Mi’kmaq hunter Danny Paul said “We are not to harm [white animals] in any way, shape, or form because they could be one of our ancestors coming to remind us of something significant that’s going to happen within our communities. It was so disrespectful having seen it put on social media, and it’s been an outcry and our people are outraged.”
Since learning the significance of the offense they committed, the hunters have apologized and turned the hide over to the Mi’kmaq people for a traditional ceremony. They originally took the hide to a taxidermy store to be preserved.
The store owner, Jim Hnatiuks, said “the hunters are saying ‘we wouldn’t have shot the moose if we had known it meant that much.’” According to him, the men were unaware of the importance of white animals to the local indigenous community.
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