Investigation launched into death of bison on Alberta film set

Pop Goes The News — The makers of a feature film set in the Ice Age and partially shot in Alberta are being probed for how they acquired dead animals.

According to a report, five bison were slaughtered and partially skinned in late April for use in a hunting scene in The Solutrean.

The Hollywood Reporter (THR) said Wednesday the animals were killed by a butcher acting on a directive from the film’s animal wrangler John Scott.

The American Humane Association (AHA), which monitors the use of animals in film and TV productions, is looking into the allegation.

“We were alerted to allegations that, if true, are a clear violation of our standards,” AHA rep Mark Stubis told THR.

The Solutrean, directed by Albert Hughes (The Book of Eli) and starring Kodi Smit-McPhee (X-Men: Apocalypse), is described as the story of a young caveman’s struggle for survival.

Filming took place in Drumheller, about 140 kilometres northeast of Calgary. Parts of the movie were made in B.C. and Iceland.

Studio 8, producer of the film, told THR it “contracted with a reputable meat-processing company to purchase bison carcasses that had previously been harvested.”

It said if there was any wrongdoing, it will consider rescuing five other bisons from slaughter and donating them to an animal sanctuary.

The THR report said Longview Jerky Shop sold the bison to the film production as carcasses. Managing partner Tom Kirk said he did not know where the bison came from but admitted his meat manager met with Scott and one of the one of the film’s producers prior to the slaughter.

Dwight Beard, who transported the bison from Scott’s property in Longview to the film location, told THR he saw the animals being killed and alleged that Scott expressed concerns about animal rights activists.

Scott has provided animals for other made-in-Canada films like The Revenant and A Night at the Museum.

He told THR: “I have the right to do with my bison whatever I want to do” but declined to comment on the ones used in The Solutrean.

Scott previously came under fire for allegedly selling horses used on the CBC TV series Heartland to a slaughterhouse that was probed by the RCMP for inhumane killing.

During filming of the 1999 B.C.-shot movie The 13th Warrior, one of Scott’s horses had to be put down after a wire sliced through its tendons and an artery.

The AHA said it will forward the results of its investigation to Canadian authorities.

In Alberta, animals are protected by the provincial Animal Protection Act — where penalties in cases of cruelty or neglect can be as high as $20,000 — and the federal Criminal Code of Canada.

For its part, the AHA said it can refuse to accredit the film.

Pictured: A bison carcass being transported to the Alberta set of The Solutrean in April. (via The Hollywood Reporter)