Since the start of the fall in Alberta, Clio Smeeton says she’s been hearing gunshots around the Cochrane Ecological Institute, an animal sanctuary designed to keep orphaned and injured animals out of harm’s way until they’re ready to go back into the wild.
But recently, two moose were tragically killed in a disturbing case of animal poaching.
She first found Beau, a two-year-old male moose that was orphaned, dead behind one of their buildings. A few days later, she saw three-year-old Polly, who was born in the sanctuary, collapse in the 65-hectare fenced enclosure. Unable to check on Polly until the following morning, the coyotes had mostly eaten the carcass by the time Smeeton arrived at the scene.
Although the enclosure is clearly marked as private, staff think people may have pulled over on the side of the road, shot the moose and then fled.
“We’re not rearing animals for [people] to take potshots at them,” says Smeeton in an interview with the Calgary Herald.
Whether the shots were a mistake or deliberate, they were illegal.
It’s also against the law to abandon carcasses. According to Brandon Cox, a public affairs officer with Alberta Justice, hunters are required to tag and collect all carcasses.
More importantly, for Smeeton, it also creates a dangerous atmosphere for the sanctuary’s other animals and staff.
When the incident was reported to Alberta’s Fish and Wildlife officers, they were told nothing could be done without a vehicle description and license plate, or bullets from the animals.
Unfortunately, this is not the first time animals at the sanctuary were killed. In recent years, they have lost three moose in similar ways.