Parks Canada staff have begun an investigation after two elk carcasses were discovered near the highway in the south end of Kootenay National Park on Sunday (November 11) and are appealing to the public for more information.

“We’re still investigating but it appears as though they were killed some place else and dropped in the park; whether they were killed someplace else in the national park we don’t know,” said Parks Canada Public Relations and Communications Officer Ross MacDonald.

Hunting is not permitted in a national park under the National Parks Act and Parks Canada staff are assuming the animals were shot, but whether it was with bullets or arrows is not known. The two carcasses — full grown bull elk — were missing antlers and much of the meat had been taken as well. Mature bulls can weigh up to 1,000 pounds.

“If anyone knows anything more about this we’d like to know,” MacDonald said.

While the elk population in Kootenay National Park has dropped compared to numbers recorded in the 1960s and 1970s, there is still a “fair number” in the Columbia Valley, he said.

For B.C. registered hunters, open hunting season on elk with six-point antlers or better closed throughout the valley on October 20. That the elk were lawfully hunted remains a possibility as aboriginal rights allow First Nations hunting outside the open season on traditional territories, said Invermere Conservation Officer Greg Kruger.

“So if we get a complaint about an animal being harvested and remains found, that’s always a part of our investigation as well,” he said. “At the end of the day, it may have been a lawful harvest even if it was shot after October 20, but driving it into the park and dumping it is wrong.

“Whoever did it, it was a contravention of the National Park Act.”

If any member of the public has information related to this incident, they’re asked to called 1-888-WARDENS (1-888-927-3367), and they may remain anonymous, if they wish to do so.

“Wardens have found no evidence that the animals were killed in the national park and the find remains a mystery,” Macdonald told The Valley Echo on Monday (November 19).