Some Vancouver Island First Nations are offering a $25,000 reward for poachers who have been targeting a herd of elk that was moved to the area several years ago with the aim of creating a sustainable population.
Hugh Braker, the Chief Councillor of the Tseshat First Nation, says that since April at least eight animals have been killed in the Nuu-chah-nulth traditional territory, around Port Alberni and Barkley Sound.
Some of the carcasses have been abandoned, while others have been partially harvested, and four more appeared to have been professional butchered.
Chief Jeff Cook of the Huu-ay-aht Nation says they're completely opposed to the killing of elk for sport or fun, and the fact that much of the animals were left behind troubles them.
Yesterday the tribal council announced it would offer the reward for information leading to finding and prosecuting those responsible.
"Our people are outraged. They are angry over what has happened to their resources and they want the perpetrators to be found," said Braker.
Conservation officer Ben York says they believe more than one person is responsible for the poaching.
"We have reason to believe it is not just the same party, that there are multiple parties involved," said York.
"These elk were taken without any sanction, without any management plan, and were taken from elk population units that cannot sustain this kind of harvest."
About five years ago, a dozen elk were transplanted into the area to create a sustainable herd and First Nations had been on the verge of being able to hunt as many as four of the animals.
First Nations officials says the elk and other wildlife are not only valued for food, but are of great cultural significance.