Officials suspect poaching after two bighorn sheep found headless

Jasper Fitzhugh file photo. Parks Canada is seeking tips from the public on a potential poaching after two bighorn sheep carcasses were discovered with their heads removed.

Scott Hayes
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Jasper Fitzhugh

The discovery of two bighorn sheep carcasses with their heads removed has prompted officials with Jasper National Park to issue a request for the public’s help in finding the culprit or culprits.

On Oct. 17, a visitor called Jasper Dispatch to report the first sighting of the decapitated animal located a distance from the Yellowhead Highway near Jasper Lake.

Upon searching the scene, Parks Canada investigators discovered a second similarly decapitated animal in the vicinity.

Officials closed off the area for public safety, but that closure has since been rescinded.

They determined that these poaching offences most likely occurred between 4 p.m. on Monday, Oct. 16 and 10 a.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 17.

Without being able to speak at length at the active and open investigation, Jasper National Park resource conservation manager Dave Argument said that a team brought in a dog to help thoroughly search the area.

“I can tell you that it’s very evident that these animals were shot,” Argument said.

“The other details are subject to investigation, because it is being very actively investigated by our Park Wardens who are working with all the other jurisdictions [including] wildlife managers in B.C. and Alberta on this kind of case. Obviously, this is an unusual and fairly serious incident.”

The last confirmed poaching incident in Jasper National Park took place in 2012.

Parks Canada’s Law Enforcement Branch has put out a public call for help to discover further information about this incident that could also help with the identification of those responsible.  

To that end, people are asked to please contact Park Wardens if you have any of the following:

 Dash camera footage from Jasper Lake, Edna’s Knoll or Talbot Lake areas during this time;

 Information on suspicious persons or vehicles in that area and timeframe; or

 Any information regarding two recently removed bighorn ram heads or horns.

“I think this is a really sad case. Obviously, this park is here for a variety of reasons, in part to protect wildlife like this and partly to make sure that people can actually learn from and enjoy and experience this kind of thing,” Argument said.  

“Those sheep at Edna’s Knoll, they’re enjoyed by thousands of people every year that pass by and stop and get a chance to see bighorn sheep that might not otherwise get to see them. So, they’re fairly habituated sheep, but they’re also very much visible sheep that are enjoyed by park users by the thousands that come through here. I think it’s really sad that somebody has taken it upon themselves to remove those bighorn rams from everybody’s opportunity to enjoy.”

Poaching is a serious offence under the Canada National Parks Act and can result in fines in excess of $250,000.

Those with information can contact Jasper Dispatch at 780-852-6155 or email