This article is about the strange disappearance of the Canadian Moose that were introduced into New Zealand, and how one man’s search has proven that they are still out there.
The story begins in 1909, when 17 moose calves were authorized captured by the Canadian government, which were transported to Elk Island National Park, east of Edmonton. Ten of these 17 calves, six females and four males, were shipped to New Zealand were they would be introduced to Fiordland. This was part of a massive number of new animals being introduced to the area to help “improve” the fledgling colony. This was part of the era called the Grand Reshuffle, the global redistribution of species for commerce, sport, and the nostalgic remembrance of home. New Zealand received an ecological make-over from which it has never recovered. Millions of dollars are spent each to try to restrict the depredations of introduced wild life. Though animals like the national bird the kiwi are becoming extinct, Thomas Donne writes that “Nature neglected New Zealand in providing game animals” and believes by bring these animals in, man has “remedied the omissions”. This was part of a vision wildly shared by some to make New Zealand into a vast game park. Though almost none of the game animals actually managed to establish in the prior almost mammal-free zone, because there were so few mammals the plants had adapted a life style to support some creatures that would nibble on the plants, not the massive appetite of the newly introduced four legged creatures. Though the moose never took to the new habitat, and in the decades that followed, the population may never have reached over 100. Though the moose were introduced to be big game animals, they were rarely spotted and even more rarely shot. As the last of the trophies arrived in 1952, the population was considered extinct. Though in the mid-1960’s, Ken Tustin had apparently shot a bull, and this new prompted a government inquiry into the status of the moose in Fiordland. A 70-day survey was organized in 1972, and Tustin was chosen to lead it. As the survey went on, Tustin and his group found clear evidence that the moose were still alive, though in a very small group and would be soon extinct unless something extraordinary happened. The something was small movable helicopters and the wild venison trade. With these helicopters all of the moose’s competition was being shot down by the hundreds and hour. This let the moose flourish and live on.
I found this article really interesting because it showed that introducing wild life into a new environment doesn’t always mean that the animal is going to take over the entire population of wild life. The introduced animal may not be able to survive, and flourish in its new environment. I would recommend this article to anyone who is interested in wild life, and how it can adapt to different situations.
Warne, Kennedy. "Elusive Moose." Canadian Geographic Jul. - Aug. 2006: 6. Print.