Kiwiosities: The last moose

Excerpts from Kiwiosities, a book by Gordon Ell on the traditions and folklore of New Zealand.

The Last Moose

Tales of giant elk or moose in deepest Fiordland arise from their importation from Canada early last century. These giant northern deer have a very large antler spread and were keenly sought by trophy hunters along the remote shores of Dusky Sound, where ten were liberated.

Moose were still ‘rare’ in 1923 when sport shooting began and it is thought they never spread beyond a few of the fiords, because of the topography. Hunters in the years following World War II began soon began to talk of their hunt for the last moose, so few were seen. The last moose shot was in 1952 near the Wet Jacket Arm of Dusky Sound. Although the species is now believed extinct in New Zealand, hunters continue to speculate and explore.

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Gordon Ell, a former journalist and wildlife film-maker, is the author of many popular books about New Zealand's historic and natural heritage.