Mi'kmaq communities in Cape Breton are upset after hunters shot a rare albino moose last week.

The white moose was killed near Belle Cote, N.S.

"This is what we call a spirit animal,” said Clifford Paul, moose management co-ordinator for the Unamaki Institute of Natural Resources.

Mi'kmaq hunter Danny Paul said aboriginal communities have known about the moose for years, but refrained from killing it because white animals are considered sacred.

"We know the significance and we've been teaching that to the non-native population for almost 500 years — about the importance that this and other white animals played in our lives," he said. "We are not to harm them in any way, shape, or form because they could be one of our ancestors coming to remind us of something significant that's going to happen within our communities."

White moose, photo #4

Peter MacDonald, a biologist with the Department of Natural Resources, said a white moose is very rare, especially if it’s a full-albino. He said it appears the shot moose is a partial albino. (Hnatiuks Hunting Fishing Ltd.)

"It was so disrespectful having seen it put on the social media, and it's been an outcry and our people are outraged."

The Department of Natural Resources said white moose are rare but there are no laws against killing them.

Peter MacDonald, a biologist with the department, said that judging by the photos the dead moose appears to be a partial albino.

The hunters who shot the moose said they didn’t know about the animal’s significance.

They have agreed to hand over the hide for a traditional Mi’kmaq ceremony.