A horse at a Parks Canada ranch west of Sundre, Alta., has been shot and killed, RCMP say.
The horse named Nugget was found by employees at Ya Ha Tinda Ranch on Tuesday, according to a release, and both RCMP and Alberta Fish and Wildlife were called to investigate.
Ya Ha Tinda Ranch is the only working horse ranch owned and managed by Parks Canada. About a dozen horses roam freely there. The animal that died was a 20-year-old quarter horse still used in active duty, RCMP say.
Based on a field necropsy, investigators believe the horse was shot in the chest with a large calibre rifle sometime between Saturday and Monday.
Nestled at the foot of the Rockies about 150 kilometres northwest of Calgary, the ranch sits at the end of a long gravel road and is encircled by forest.
RCMP say the horse was standing in thick spruce trees slightly elevated from where the shot was taken, which is believed to be 150 to 200 metres from where the horse was found dead.
Elk season is open and the area where this incident occurred is a common zone used by elk hunters, RCMP say.
“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. We encourage the person or [people] responsible to come and speak with the RCMP in Sundre about the incident,” RCMP said in a statement.
Anyone with information about the horse shooting is asked to contact Sundre RCMP at 403-638-3655 or local police. People can also contact Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477.