Search Continues for New Zealand Moose

The last confirmed photo of a moose in New Zealand was taken during a hunt in 1952. So how is anyone convinced that a population of Fiordland Moose still exists today?

Some say that the physical evidence is obvious.

Although there have been no confirmed sightings in over 60 years, hairs, footprints, and moose-specific foraging characteristics have all been observed by dedicated moose enthusiasts.

In the early 1970s, a biologist, the “godfather of New Zealand moose hunting,” found a cast antler. Then, several hair samples from the same area were sent to a DNA lab in 2001, which included one of confirmed moose origin.

This year, hunters have documented stripped branches that are indicative of moose foraging. They are not signs of red deer, the area’s more common inhabitant that pluck leaves off trees. For some, that evidence is as solid as seeing one in person.

New remote cameras have been set up to take photos any time the motion sensor is activated. Supporters are hoping to receive stronger images than the blurry ones that went unconfirmed in 1995.

The wilderness of Fiordland is vast, and moose are not native to the area, which makes tracking a potentially small population difficult. Other species in the ecosystem, such as the blue bird Takahē, were previously presumed extinct before being observed decades later.

A group of ten moose were introduced in New Zealand in 1910 as part of a game introduction project, and the species never received any legal protection. To read more about hunting New Zealand’s elusive moose, click here.

Source: Stuff, New Zealand’s largest and most popular news site

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