Animal-welfare officials are investigating whether several bison were purposely killed so their carcasses could be used in the filming of an American movie in southern Alberta.
Studio 8, the California-based company producing the ice-age movie "The Solutrean," said in a statement Monday that it is doing an internal review as well, but has so far found no evidence supporting the allegation.
The animals had been destined for slaughter, said the studio, and a beef-jerky company was contracted to purchase and process the meat.
"Our preliminary findings confirm that no one from the production had authorized or was aware of any deviation from (American Humane Society's) guidelines," said the statement.
"If we find that any deviation did indeed occur, we will consider all potential remedies, including rescuing five other bison, who would have otherwise been slaughtered, by purchasing them for adoption by an animal sanctuary."
The company also said that two representatives from the humane society were on the movie set to ensure staff were following rules.
Scott Sowers, a spokesman for the American Humane Society, said in an email that the organization has brought in an independent investigator to look into the claim.
The killing of any animal for use in film is strictly prohibited and any company involved in such would not receive the "no animals were harmed" certification for its movie, he said.
The Alberta SPCA originally received the complaint about the dead bison during filming in the Drumheller area in April.
Spokesman Roland Lines said that although the group disagrees with "killing an animal specifically to be used as a movie prop," it had no legal authority to investigate because there was no indication the animals had suffered during slaughter. The complaint was forwarded to counterparts in the United States instead.
He said dead animals are routinely used in films.
"Purchasing a carcass from a meat producer is OK," Lines said. "The allegation in this case is that the bison, prior to their slaughter, were already connected to somebody working on the film."
Lines, citing confidentiality, wouldn't reveal who made the accusation.
The owner of the bison, veteran rancher John Scott, could not be reached for comment. His staff said he is under a confidentiality clause with Studio 8.
Scott's website shows that he has been involved in the movie business for three decades and has supplied animals for work on films including "The Revenant" starring Leonardo DiCaprio. "Legends of the Fall" with Brad Pitt was shot at Scott's ranch near Longview, southwest of Calgary.
"The Solutrean," starring Kodi Smit-McPhee from "X-Men: Apocalypse" and "The Road," is about a young caveman's quest for survival after he is separated from his tribe during a hunting expedition. No release date has been announced.