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Moose Remain Elusive

Jan 19, 2011

The New Zealand moose saga is the "Bigfoot Mystery" of this country. Real or myth? In 1910 ten young Canadian moose were released successfully into remote Fiordland, and it was hoped the resulting herd would be the key attraction for international hunters who came to New Zealand seeking trophies. The herd struggled however, facing a challenging environment, and an invading plague of encroaching red deer, and later possums which stripped the vegetation. Tall adults could survive, but young moose found the going very hard, just finding enough food to survive. Over forty years a number of moose were observed, several shot including three bulls (weak antlers by Canadian standards) and then the herd appeared to die out.
In the 1970s helicopters decimated the red deer numbers and if there were moose survivors the new abundance of food gave them a chance. Ken Tustin, a wildlife biologist believes some survived and for the last twenty years or so has with his wife's assistance gathered evidence to prove it. The best evidence so far. A found antler, high browse marking, a 1995 trigger camera shot of a blurry animal, positive DNA moose hair samples found in 2000 and 2001, and in 2010 a trigger camera picture of what could be a startled juvenile moose. No official sightings however have been made for fifty years or so. This week Tustin visited Fiordland and downloaded six months worth of camera activity. Excitement gave way to disappointment. There were 3,000 images of red deer, possums, birds, wind-blown vegetation, and sun flare but no moose. In recent years he has written two well received books on the moose topic, and 600,000 people watched his 1995 documentary "A Wild Moose Hunt".
The cameras have been reset and the chase goes on.
Tustin said to a journalist "You're not going to know if you don't try to find out". 

What do you think? Are These Moose or Deer?

 1995 picture New_Zealand_Moose_1.jpg 2010 picture

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