14 October 2005

Conservation agency strangely reluctant to protect animal likely not to exist

MP promises bill for protection of moose

Parliament will be asked to protect Fiordland's long-lost moose after a Canadian scientist vouched for tests that hinted the beasts might still be alive.

Invercargill MP Eric Roy yesterday said he would introduce a private members bill to prevent the as-yet unseen moose population from being culled as an exotic pest animal.

The bill would support the Game and Forest Foundation, which last week challenged the Department of Conservation and the Conservation Authority to exempt moose from the "extermination" provisions of the National Parks Act. The agencies stopped short of offering full protection for the moose, but said controlling an animal not seen for so long "might not be the first priority".

Mr Roy urged the agencies to protect the moose. If they did not, his bill would save it from an agency-backed cull, and from hunters who wanted to try to bag an animal last confirmed seen in 1952.

"This is the only successful liberation of moose in the Southern Hemisphere. If there are surviving moose, as recent DNA tests indicate, then we should protect them in the spirit of conservation, science, and public interest," Mr Roy said.

Otago scientist Ken Tustin last week had DNA confirmation that a pair of hair samples found in Fiordland in 2001 and 2002 were from moose.

Moose were released at Supper Cove, Fiordland in 1910, but were last confirmed seen by hunters in 1952. Mr Tustin has seen numerous moose "signs" since starting to look for them in the early 1970s, but has yet to find one in the wild.

"The unique nature of these animals means we must ensure they are protected," Mr Roy said.

- Otago Daily Times, 11 October 2005

[If by 'unique' he means 'possibly imaginary', I agree with him]

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