Three hunters were within their rights when they killed a rare albino moose last week in the Nova Scotia wilderness.
But since then they’ve been widely criticized on social media sites, and their action has outraged the indigenous Mi’kmaq people, who regard white creatures as “spirit animals” and believe that killing them brings bad luck.
Danny Paul, a Mi’kmaq hunter, told CBC that aboriginal people have known about the spirit moose for years.
“We know the significance and we’ve been teaching that to the non-native population for almost 500 years—about the importance that this and other white animals played in our lives,” he said. "We are not to harm them 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 the social media, and it’s been an outcry and our people are outraged.”
A Department of Natural Resources biologist said that based on the photographs, the moose probably was a partial albino.
The hunters, whose names have not been publicized, have apologized, saying they did not know the animal was sacred. They have agreed to deliver the hide for a traditional Mi’kmaq ceremony.
The hunters brought the hide to Hnatiuk’s Hunting & Fishing Ltd., a hunting and taxidermy business in the Nova Scotia town of Lantz.
Hnatiuk’s has served as a sort of middleman and has used its Facebook page to speak on behalf of the hunters and the Mi’kmaq.
In a post that included the accompanying illustration of a spirit moose, Jim Hnatiuk stated:
“The hunters have shared that they regret, that unknowingly they caused this to happen. Some may not accept that, but it doesn’t change what is true.
“These are good men and they broke no law, and they have expressed that it would have been nice to have known more about the significance of these white moose. Hopefully through this, many are much more informed and, this provides the catalyst for more to be done.”
In a separate post, Mi’kmaq Chief Bob Cloade wrote: “First of all I would like to thank all those who have come forth to bringing closure to the hunt of the Sacred animal. The Hyde is being prepared to begin a four-day ceremony once it is ready…
“I have full cooperation from the Hunters, Hnatiuk’s Hunting & Fishing, DNR etc. The next step is to bring a peaceful closure and honor the Spirit of the Sacred Moose.”
The white moose was killed near Belle Cote, Nova Scotia.