OTTAWA (AFP) - The killing of a white "spirit" moose in Canada sparked outrage on Thursday, but the unaware hunters are said to be trying to make amends.
The animal was shot last week in Nova Scotia, in the far east of the country, and brought to Hnatiuk's Hunting & Fishing Ltd. in the town of Lantz, which snapped a photo of the carcass and posted it on its Facebook page.
The page received 10,000 hits within three days as news of the animal's death went viral.
"I've talked to the hunters and they said, had they known the significance of this they wouldn't have shot the moose," said owner of the taxidermy shop, Jim Hnatiuk.
"Some people believe that shooting a white moose is bad luck, but the hunters were totally unaware of its significance," he said by telephone.
"Everyone is a lot more knowledgeable now, and the hunters want to make amends and fix this as much as they can."
The three local hunters, whose names were withheld, have apologised to a local Mi'kmaq tribe and agreed to hand over the hide for a ceremony to honour the animal and dispell the curse.
The ceremony is planned for next week and could last several days. The hunters meanwhile will keep the bull moose's head as a trophy.
White moose are not legally protected, but they are very rare and considered sacred by some aboriginals.
Natural Resources officials said the moose was probably a partial albino, based on photographs.
This particular animal was known to have inhabited the Nova Scotia highlands for several years and had been spotted often by locals.
"It was very graceful to see," a Mi'kmaq chief told public broadcaster CBC.
Mi'kmaq hunter Danny Paul added: "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."
Killing the animal, he explained, brings bad luck and misfortune.
"It was so disrespectful, having seen it put on the social media," Mr Paul said, adding "our people are outraged".