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Friday, 24 June 2011

Water Horse Continued: New Zealand Moose

From Tony Lucas' NZ Cryptozoology blog:

Moose - Alces alces andersoni, were imported from Saskatchewan Canada, into the South Island by the New Zealand Acclimatisation Society as a sporting animal along with red deer in the early 20th century.

These animals supposedly failed to establish, and yet sightings persisted and evidence of their continued presence continued.

The initial introduction occurred in 1900 when four animals from Canada were released in Hokotika. The initial release was supposed to have been fourteen animals but ten died on the voyage from Canada.

Out of these four animals only one was a cow, and was said to wander the streets of a local settlement until 1914 when it was no longer seen.

These animals were presumed to have not survived and a further release was planned.

This occurred on the 6th of April 1910, when six female and four male, ten month old calves were released in Supper Cove in Dusky Sound.

It was believed these animals died out due to the competition from Red Deer - Cervus elaphus, however a small number must have persisted as reports of physical traces and sightings continued. These sightings became quite prevalent between 1929 and 1952.

Herrick Creek was one spot where a bull moose was reportedly shot by one Eddie Herrick in 1934.

This was one of a dozen animals reportedly shot between 1910 and 1952.

[Only two of these were actually licensed hunts. Afterward the restriction was lifted and any moose that were killed did not require any license for hunting them-DD]

The last one sighted and shot in 1952 was presumed to have spelt the end of the establishment of a moose population in New Zealand, in fact it would have been the only population of wild Moose in the Southern Hemisphere.

Nothing more was heard of the Moose apart from rumour and speculation until a possible sighting in 1971 sparked a hunt for a possible surviving population of these enigmatic animals.

More physical proof came to light in 1972 when an antler, definitely moose was found.

Ken Tustin was charged with finding out if they still existed on the insistence of the New Zealand Forest Service in 1972.

Research conducted by Mr Tustin suggested that a small population may have inhabited the Dusky Sound area.

This was based on prints, droppings, antler casts and signs of grazing.

No actual sightings of the animals were however forthcoming.

The thick bush in the area kept them well hidden.

Mr Tustin did not give up the search and in 1995 a picture was taken of a possible female at Herrick Creek. A single frame from a video clip showed what appeared to be the retreating figure, regrettably the image was not a clear one due to the video being in time-lapse mode which causes some distortion to the picture.

The outline and stance of the animal however were quite convincing.

A hair sample was found in 2000 and subjected to DNA testing. The test confirmed it was definitely Moose hair

Further evidence of their continued existence was found in 2001 when two hunters came across some more hair.

This sample came from Shark Cove on the southern side of Dusky Sound and was again confirmed as Moose hair.

Another hair sample was found by Mr Tustin in October 2002, snagged at waist height on some tree bark, this too was subjected to DNA testing and proved to be of Moose origin.

The hairs were collected opposite Oke Island.

Though no actual sightings have occurred since the 1971 one, there is plenty of physical evidence for the existence of these animals.

These animals seem to be confined to the Dusky Sound area.

Bedding spots and physical evidence suggest up to 20 animals may live there ( Otago Daily Times 06.10.05).

Although the population is small these animals seem to be holding their own, though regrettably they have not been granted protection and are still able to be subjected to the hunters gun.

If these animals are to survive they need the protection to establish a stable population, which could be possible considering the number taken by hunters early in their introduction.

The area in which they live is heavy bush and this has impeded visual sightings, but the evidence is there that this species holds on in their remote piece of Fiordland.

However there is also evidence of earlier introductions of moose into New Zealand, probably from unrecorded agents. Quoting Charles Fort in Lo!

"The volcano Rotomahana was a harsh, black cup that had spilled scenery. Or the sombre thing was a Puritan in finery. It had belied its dourness with two broad decorations of siliceous deposits, shelving down to its base, one of them the White Terrace and the other the Pink Terrace. These gay formations sloped [103/104] from the bare, black crater to another inconsistency, which was a grove of acacias. All around, the famous flowering bushes of this district made more sinful contrast with a gaunt, towering thing. Upon the 10th of June, 1886, this Black Fanatic slung a constitutional amendment. It was reformation, in the sense that virtue is uniformity that smothers variation. It drabbed its gay Terraces: the grove of acacias was a mound of mud: it covered over the flowering bushes with smooth, clean mud. It was a virtuously dismal scene, but, as in all other reformations, a hankering survived in it. A left-over living thing made tracks in the smoothness of mud. In the New Zealand Herald, Oct. 13, 1886, a correspondent writes of having traversed this dull, dead expanse, having seen it marked with the footprints of a living creature.(5) He thought that the marks were a horse's. But there was another story that was attracting attention at this time, and his letter was an allusion to it. Maoris were telling of a wandering animal, unknown to them, that had appeared in this desert of mud. It was a creature with antlers, or a stag, according to descriptions, an animal that had never been seen, or had never before been seen, by Maoris. "
The animal the size of a horse was more likely a moose, and this was twenty years before it is admitted there was a plan to introduce moose into New Zealand for hunting.

I need hardly point out that all of this situation regarding the continued survival of introduced moose outside of the public eye is exactly the sort of thing as I am proposing for introduced moose in Scotland: at the time the moose was introduced into New Zealand for hunting, enthusiasts were also targeting Scotland for the same plan with the same goal in mind. And please notice that the New Zealand moose were hunted for many years but only two licensed trophy hunts for moose were counted officially: In Scotland ALL of the other kills would have counted as "poaching." So it is easy to see how most of such incidents would have been hushed up. (Some famous trophy mooseheads do adorn some Scottish hunting-lodges as well)

There is also a possibility that Loch-Ness-Style Water Monster reports had begun in the Fjordlands as a result from the introduction of moose into the area. Ivan Sanderson had indications of typical string-of-buoys reports in the Fjordlands lakes (albeit without elaboration in his files and basically going on the say-so of newspaper collectors of reports) and when I discussed the matter with Tony Lucas, he said there were indeed such reports, but with vague details and as unverified reports so far as he knew. In the 1950s and 1969s, reports were still coming in uncommonly, but in the 1970s the monster "Lakey" had a brief flap of reports, according to the Wikipedia entry on Lake Monster reports in general. The links above in referring to the New Zealand moose often place it on a par with Ogopogo or the Loch Ness Monster, as seen by the skeptical local community, but it seems in fact that the New Zealanders inadvertantly introduced Ogopogo and Loch-Ness-Monster type string-of buoys reports as a consequence of their introductions of the Water Horse, ie, the moose.
The same passage in Lo! just happens to include another report of a New Zealand Water-Monster, Which is taken to be an unusually aggressive Waitoreke on some of the Cryptozoology websites which mention it, in effect the New Zealand Master-Otter. Not what we were discussing here but worth a mention by the way:

New Zealand Times, May 9, 1883 -- excitement near Masterton -- unknown creature at large -- curly hair, short legs, and broad muzzle.(4) Dogs sent after it -- one of the dogs flayed by it -- rest of the dogs running away -- probably "with their tails between their legs," but the reporter overlooking this convention.

And the same passage also mentions a Canadian-borderline Water-Monster by way of variety, only this time again it seems to have been a swimming moose AKA a Water-Horse:
New York Sun, Aug. 19, 1886 -- a horned monster, in Sandy Lake, Minnesota. More details in the London (Ontario) Advertiser -- Chris. Engstein fired a shot at it, but missed.


  1. Dale, I enjoy reading your blogs about moose in Scotland, being smuggled in from Canada on board ocean-going ships without being noticed by Customs, Coastguard or Constabulary (my presumption), then released and surviving in our countryside without being spotted before being hunted and poached (better grilled?) by criminals who never get caught but are merely "hushed up".

    You write "Some famous trophy mooseheads do adorn some Scottish hunting-lodges as well", so I have one simple request - could you kindly indicate your source for this assertion so that I may visit the lodges and seek permission to take photographs and DNA samples. This will then prove once and for all that you are correct in your assertions.
    Thank you.

  2. If you live in Scotland and you wish to do the job, go on ahead and do it: Since I am across an ocean from you, it would be much easier for ypou to do the legwork there. I was not provided with specifics, only general statements from standard internet sources such as Wikipedia. And it means absolutely NOTHING to my teory if you can prove nothing on the "Official" level. As I have indicated in the New Zealand case, there is evidence that importing moose was going on covertly for twenty years before it "Officially" took place.

    Once again, a human agency must be ASSUMED in such cases, and "Proving" the case is actually beside the point. It is exactly the same in the case of Alien Big Cats and so on. If you even HAVE such a thing as an ABC in the first place, then ASSUMING it got there via human agency should be your bottom line in any event.

    Not everything is as closely controlled as the people who like things neatly tied up might like. Records are falsified and go missing. Authorities conveniently "forget" things. Documentation gets lost or filed wrongly. And all of those things are part of the normal course of business and it has been that way for centuries if not decades. Lack of proof cannot be taken as disproof in ANY such case for these reasons alone. Therefore it is not a concern of mine if your need for proof is not satisfied. I do not feel that same need myself nor yet do I have access to your turf. Therefore if you wish to go on any quest to prove or disprove the matter to your own satisfaction, go to it, and good luck to you. Otherwise you are asking me for specifics that are not easily accessable from my side of the ocean and which I do not feel any especial need to check on.

    Besides, if we are talking about imported Canadian moose in Scotland and you DO the genetic tests on the mooseheads which then prove to be Canadian moose, you have proven absolutely nothing about where the moose was shot. The New Zealand moose always prove to be genetically Canadian moose, as the article mentions in the case of the hair samples. Therefore the proceedure you suggest for doing the DNA testing is already doomed from the onset and cannot satisfy your own requirements as proof of anything. You are thus formulating an experiment that is automatically going to be loaded for the results you want, no matter what the truth of the matter might be.

    Best Wishes, Dale D.

  3. Dale, Thank you for your reply.

    Leaving aside genetics, and officaldom, and New Zealand and ABC's, you wrote "Some famous trophy mooseheads do adorn some Scottish hunting-lodges as well" and now add that your source was "standard internet sources such as Wikipedia".

    Maybe Wikipedia in the UK is censored, but I cannot find a single reference to "trophy moose-heads in Scottish hunting lodges".

    I am simply asking for your source.

    Thank you. A

  4. Unfortunately, the Wikipedia is a most peculiar resource. Information can be added at one author's intention that it remain as a valuable reference resource and then deleted at a whim without warning at any time. I can state from personal experience that this is an ongoing process and that it is most annoying because some of the persons with the most inaccurate information are the most persistent in having it put up at Wikipedia, and all competing information removed, no matter how valid the credentials. Needless to say I have been victimized by overly-zealous Wikipedia-revisionist know-nothings on several occasions.

    The discussion about Scottish moose or elk has now gone on for several years now.And I am sorry to say, Wikipedia and the internet in general have been altered since this information was first referenced, which is to say that what I was using for reference when this discussion began is not there any more. Still, I know the mooseheads are there, I have seen the photos. There is even a famous example (which I am not using as a candidate for being locally hunted but just as an example of a Scottish moosehead) which is at Edinborough University and which students regularly steal from each other as a game of one-upmanship.

    I am sorry I cannot provide you with my original references but they are no longer there.I also had a photograph of a mounted skeleton of a New Zealand moose which I wanted for this article and it, too, is no longer at the location it was before. If any better evidence comes my way, I shall post it.

  5. So remind me again. What is the merit of this moose theory above and beyond other explanations for land sightings such as otters and deer?

    I still think you are more likely to see the Loch Ness Monster than a moose going for a dip.

  6. Why you poor thing, I told you the first time you asked and I have carried this conversation on for so long and for so many postings primarily for your benefit.

    The answer once again is because the descriptions match and those sightings primarily in the target period of about 1880 to about 1934. Please review the list again posted especially for your benefit at the earlier blog:

    And note especially the entries in blue
    These entries consistently describe a camel-shaped creature averaging six feet tall at the shoulder and eight to ten feet long, with long legs and cloven hoofs even specified every now and then (Cloven hooves are part of the Water Horse legend, along with "Hooves turned back to front" Since a horse's hooves are concave in back, that means about the same thing as cloven hooves)

    Water Horses are not confined to Loch Ness, as you also peculiarly fail to notice, but are part of a consistent pattern of reports from all over the Northern Hemisphere, almost always in areas where moose are found or were found in earlier times. And the extinction date for moose in Scotland is not anything known for a certainty: indeed its reality is generally just assumed for the most part.

    As far as Loch Ness reports go, only a few individuals wandering out of the woods for a fifty-year period would be adequate to account for the reports. And note the number of times the description says "Camel-like" distinctly and the dimensions of six feet tall at the shoulder with long legs. That is not only consistent and recognisably established before the "Monster" reports, they are the most common type of report at Loch Ness.

    And once again, you are in by far a more advantageous position to ask around for records of moose (elk) imports, captures, or hunting in Scotland than I am. I am incidentally also even now working on a blog which entails straightening out a matter where I had entered legitimate information into Wikipedia and that information was rejected for a weaker and much less documented theory on the same subject.

    And in case you missed the point again (youi seem unusually good at missing points) The example of New Zealand is given here as a parallel to Scotland, and the fact that only a few introduced Canadian moose persisyed there for more than a century, with only fleeting sightings for most of that time and better evidence only when experts made a concerted evidence to find such evidence.

    Fortunately you do not even need to find such evidence for moose in Scotland at this point in time, we know that they are there

    Best Wishes, Dale D.

    PS, Sorry about the delay in getting back to your commens this week, my computer has been in the shop.


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