An animal-rights group is offering a cash reward for the arrest and conviction of three men seen shooting at ducklings in a Prairie pond and cracking jokes about it in an internet video.
The four-minute video, which was posted on YouTube last week, has raised anger and disgust across the Prairies. Fish and wildlife officials believe the shootings happened in rural Alberta or Saskatchewan.
On Thursday, the Humane Society of Canada posted a $1,000 reward for tips that lead authorities to the three men seen in the video.
Society president Michael O'Sullivan called the shooters "brutal, subhuman cowards."
"If I were their neighbours and knew about it, I'd turn them in immediately," he said.
In the video, the trio can be seen firing at ducklings in a pond from the window of a moving car and also repeatedly shooting at the remains of a duck.
Darcy Whiteside, a spokesman for Alberta Sustainable Resource Development, said clues in the video — topography, licence plates that are not on the front of vehicles and canola fields in the background — point to southwestern Saskatchewan or southeastern Alberta.
The Alberta Hunter Education Instructors Association, which educates members about wildlife protection, condemned the video as "appalling."
Association president Bob Gruszecki said the video only perpetuates stereotypes. He said he hopes the public doesn't paint all hunters with the same brush.
Duck hunting season in most Prairie provinces does not start until September, and most migratory birds in Canada are protected under federal law.
The shooters could face several charges, ranging from careless use of a firearm to poaching, which carry fines of up to $10,000 — but jail time is rare.
'Anyone who would harm animals is just a step away from doing it to a person.'—Michael O'Sullivan, Humane Society of Canada
"Typically, it's fines but … there are some opportunities for creative sentencing," said Whiteside.
The person who originally posted the video has closed the YouTube account, but someone else reposted it in the hopes it will help identify the shooters.
The humane society has had success with rewards in other animal-cruelty cases, in which tips have led to charges being brought against offenders.
"Anyone who would harm animals is just a step away from doing it to a person," said O'Sullivan. "They're just testing their limits by doing it to animals and birds."