A YouTube video showing an apparent elk hunt in Manitoba has triggered a provincial investigation into alleged poaching.
The 45-second cellphone video shows 12 dead elk and was posted New Year's Day with the title "Elk Slaughter Duck Mountain Manitoba December 2012."
Elk hunting in Manitoba is licensed and only allowed through a draw that provides hunters with 1,700 tags annually.
Manitoba Conservation said the investigation will determine the authenticity of the footage and if any illegal activity occurred.
If the animals in the video were killed in violation of conservation rules, anyone found guilty could face a $10,000 fine and up to six months in jail.
The footage has at least one conservation group concerned, and experts say it highlights the need for new limits on the number of animals being killed.
Brandon Wildlife Association President Don Teale said the number of elk in Manitoba is already down from 15 years ago and that large harvests will only make things worse.
“The elk are in pockets and … if you take a large number out of a given area they may never come back there for many years,” Teale said.
According to a spokesperson, a large kill like the one depicted in the video would be unusual.
"As for posting it, it is neither here nor there, but the big thing is for all the hunters, I guess you would say to be conservationists and look after the herds,” Teale said.
First Nations hunters are not subject to the same hunting rules, but they are not allowed to sell or waste the animals they kill.
Experts say no matter who is hunting stronger rules are needed to limit the number of animals killed in Manitoba.
"We have to manage our harvests so that we have something that is sustainable for my granddaughter, your children, your grandchildren and for us as a society into the future,” said Vince Crichton, retired Manitoba conservation manager of game, fur, and problem wildlife.
Warning graphic footage