A rare albino moose, considered a sacred "spirit animal" by Nova Scotia's indigenous Mi’kmaq people, was killed last week by visiting hunters unaware of its spiritual significance. After the hunters posted photos of the kill on Facebook, outrage quickly spread both online and within the local Mi'kmaq community.
The CBC reports that the aboriginal communities have known about the moose for years, but do not kill it because it is considered sacred:
"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."
As is typical of trophy hunters, the men were quick to share photos of themselves posing with the dead animal, but as, Agence France-Presse highlights as word spread that the rare moose had been killed, outrage spread online:
"I cannot believe anyone could kill such a beautiful creature. I guess they think they are really big men now. Shame, shame, shame," said one post.
"How can something that is so sacred and honored by the community be a trophy?" commented a fellow hunter who described being devastated and in tears.
"When something is so rare in nature, just leave it alone," concluded another.
According to Jim Hnatiuk, a local taxidermist that first informed the hunters of what they had done, this has become a learning opportunity for the hunters:
“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.”
AFP also reports that the locals consider it bad luck to kill white animals, which may be a factor in motivating the hunters to try and make amends with the Mi'kmaq tribe by returning the hide, so they can perform a four day ceremony to honor the animal.
It is nice to see that the hunters are willing to do anything to dispel the curse! Well, almost anything. The hunters are keeping the moose's head as a trophy.