A rare "spirit" moose was shot and killed by hunters in Ontario, Canada, leaving First Nation community members "outraged" at the loss of the uncommon all-white animal.
The remains of two female moose, including a white "spirit" moose, were found fatally shot, with their bodies intact, along a service road, according to The Guardian.
The rare moose, which is not an albino animal, got its coloring from a recessive gene.
These animals, along with white bison, raven, and grizzly bears spotted in Canada, are considered sacred and there are signs throughout the region that warn against killing the "spirit" creatures.
"Everybody is outraged and sad. Why would you shoot it? No one needs one that bad," Chief Murray Ray of Flying Post First Nation, an Ojibway and Cree First Nation band government in Nipigon, Ontario, told The Guardian. "If you have a license to shoot a cow moose, you could shoot another one. Just leave the white ones alone."
It is unclear how many "spirit" moose are in the region, but wildlife photographer Mark Clement said he estimates there to be as many as 30 in the area.
"It saddens me that somebody would take such a beautiful animal," Troy Woodhouse, a Flying Post community member, added. "Nobody knows exactly how many are in the area, so the loss of a single spirit moose is one too many."
Wildlife officials are asking anyone with information on the poachers to come forward.
Woodhouse and others in the area have raised $8,000 as of Monday for anyone who may be able to lead to the suspects.
Flying Post First Nation is also requesting that the pelt of the white moose be returned to them so that they can hold a ceremony in the animal's honor.
"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," Woodhouse said.
Adding, "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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