SUNDRE — In a case of what might be a mistaken identity of wild game, officials are investigating the shooting death of an active-duty horse at Ya Ha Tinda after the animal was discovered deceased by ranch employees earlier this week.
On Tuesday, Nov. 16, Fish and Wildlife as well as Sundre RCMP were called to the scene in Sundre’s West Country in Clearwater County.
“A field necropsy was completed by a Fish and Wildlife officer and determined that the horse was shot in the chest area with a large calibre rifle,” reads a portion of a press release issued this afternoon.
Based on that field test, officials believe the animal was shot between Saturday, Nov. 13 and Monday, Nov. 15.
The preliminary investigation indicates the horse was standing in a thick stand of spruce trees on Ya Ha Tinda ranchlands, slightly elevated from where the shot is believed to have been taken from roughly 150-200 metres away.
“Elk season is currently open and the area where this incident occurred is a common zone used by elk hunters,” police reported.
The deceased animal, a 20-year-old quarter horse, was still used in active duty. Parks Canada trains all of its service horses at the ranch, which is the only federally-owned working ranch in Canada.
“Due to the circumstances surrounding this incident, there is the possibility that this was an accident due to mistakenly believing the horse was a game animal,” officials said in the press release.
The responsible party is encouraged to step forward and speak with Sundre RCMP about the shooting.
Police are also asking the public for any information related to the shooting that could also help identify the person or people responsible.
Anyone with information can contact the Sundre RCMP at 403-638-3655 or their local police department. Callers who wish to remain anonymous can contact Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477 (TIPS), or alternatively submit information online at www.P3Tips.com or by using the P3 Tips app available through the Apple App or Google Play Store.