WATCH ABOVE: The original video that was posted to YouTube that shows the man jumping on the moose’s back
Conservation officers in northern B.C. are investigating after video surfaced this weekend of a boater jumping on top of a moose swimming in a lake.
The video, posted to YouTube on Saturday night, shows people riding in a boat, allegedly on Tuchodi Lakes, two connected lakes about 125 kilometres southwest of Fort Nelson. A moose is in front of them, moving through shallow water. When the boat gets close enough to the moose, one man jumps on its back.
His friends laughing, the moose groans and sinks underwater, before dipping back up. The man then rides the moose for 15 seconds before he’s thrown off. The moose, now in deeper water, emits another groan and wades away.
“I’ve never seen something this awesome!” says one of the friends watching the proceedings.
But few people agree.
“This is something that just shouldn’t be done, and needs to be dealt with,” says a man named Steve, who runs the website Wolf Tracker BC. He has asked us not to use his last name. His organization advocates the public engage with wildlife in a responsible manner, and he alerted both conservation officers and Global News to the video’s presence.
“Hunters and fisherman and anyone that uses wildlife and the back country as a resource should respect it. You just don’t do things like that. It’s a wild animal, and then jump on it, when this poor moose is up in Tuchodi Lake?” he said.
“It might never have seen a person in its life. You respect animals.”
WATCH: Reporter Jordan Armstrong explains why the men involved could end up facing charges
David Vince, a sergeant in the B.C. Conservation Service, in the North Peace zone, said they believe this video might have been taken last summer and was just posted this past weekend. It was originally posted to Facebook, but has since been taken down.
He said they have had some leads on the people in the video.
“Basically the offence is harassing wildlife,” said Vince. “That clearly is harassing wildlife, chasing it with a jet boat and then jumping on its back. You could just see the fear in the animal’s eyes there.”
Steve said he saw the video shared on a Facebook group devoted to the outdoors.
“The person that posted it said ‘What do you guys think of this? This isn’t right, is it?'” said Steve.
He then traced the video to the original poster, downloaded it and posted it to his YouTube channel, where it had more than 20,000 views in less than 48 hours.
But Steve says his goal isn’t public shaming, but prosecution–which is why he banned comments on the video after they became too specific, and is withholding the identity of those involved to all but conservation officers.
“My first instinct was to name and shame,” he admitted.
“But the last thing I want any judge to do is say they’ve already had their comeuppance. I’d rather have the conservation officers look at it. It’s not my responsibility to out who they are.”
He says the incident is all the more tragic because of the declining moose population in northern B.C.
“Up here…we’ve seen a decrease of 40-70 per cent of the moose population due to wolves and habitat lost. When you see a moose, it’s starting to become more and more rare,” he says.
Vince said he has never seen anything like this before. “I’ve never seen anybody go out of their way to scare wildlife,” he said.
If anyone knows the people in the video, call the conservation service at 1-877-952-7277.
WATCH: Randene Neill spoke with conservation officer David Vince to get his perspective on the video and what steps they’re taking with their investigation