The man searching for the mystical Fiordland moose

Otago biologist Ken Tustin has spent 45 years searching for the elusive Fiordland moose.

It's a creature that's been the stuff of legends for more than a century.

It all started in 1900, when 10 moose - who had been shipped over from Canada - were released into the wild. Since then, several sightings of moose have been reported in the area.

The last known photos of them were taken in 1953, but many believe the descendants of the original 10 still roam in the dense Fiordland bush.

Mr Tustin says he and other moose hunters are searching for skeletal evidence of deceased animals, such as the cast deer antler he uncovered in 1972.

He's also on the lookout for "browsing signs" of where the moose have nibbled at plants. Motion-sensor cameras were installed in the bush in the 1990s.

"We caught what we believe was a moose in 1995 when I was working with the Natural History Unit," says Mr Tustin.

"It has been disputed - it's not a very clear shot - but I'm quite satisfied myself that we got a moose."

Guest host and self-described "moose man" Patrick Gower is a believer in the creature - but he thinks the animals all died off decades ago, and search parties are now just looking for skeletons.

"That's not right at all, because we can find physical evidence even now," disputes Mr Tustin.

"The browsing sign is quite distinctive and can be found right to this day. We're not talking a few years ago, we're talking right now."

"Many people have given me a really hard time, I think in lots of circles I might be considered a crank. But the people that know this animal have been quite respectful and I really appreciate that."


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