No charges will be laid in killing of northern Ontario 'spirit moose'
An investigation into the shooting of a white cow moose in northern Ontario last fall has been closed and officials say no charges will be laid.
It was news that outraged people across the country when someone shot and harvested a rare and protected animal known as a 'spirit moose.'
Authorities said someone harvested two moose during the week of Oct. 26, 2020, on Nova Road near Kilometer 18, east of Foleyet. Both were found in a forestry cut, the head of the white moose was left behind, the other was a brown cow moose.
'Spirit moose' have been seen in that area for the last 40 years and get their white colouring from a condition called leucism, which is a partial loss of pigmentation in the skin and hair. It is often mistaken for a similar condition called albinism, but the animals do not have red eyes.
It is illegal to shoot and harvest white moose in wildlife management units 30 and 31 along Highway 101 from Timmins to Chapleau and local First Nations consider the 'spirit moose' a sacred animal.
When the investigation began, Crime Stoppers offered a $2,000 cash reward for tips leading to the conviction of the person responsible. Troy Woodhouse, a member of Flying Post First Nation, launched a collection to increase the reward. He raised more than $8,000.
"The spirit moose has and always will be sacred and respected in our family and our community," Woodhouse told CTV News in an interview in November. "We coexisted with the spirit moose on our traditional territory. Our ancestors and elders have told us stories our entire lives about the majestic creature and how lucky we are to have them in our area."
The decision to not lay charges was made by the Ontario Ministry of Northern Development, Mines, Natural Resources, and Forestry based on Section 35 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
"The (ministry) investigation determined that the moose was harvested lawfully by an individual who was exercising their harvesting rights within their recognized traditional territory," Jolanta Kowalski, a ministry spokesperson told CTV News in an email.
With files from Lydia Chubak, a reporter for CTV News Timmins.