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Ten years ago, Dr. Erve, one of the world's leading environmentalists, led a worldwide drive to save Canada's whooping moose from extinction.
The miniature moose, about the size of a rabbit, makes a sound similar to the whooping crane. There were forty-three of the small quadrupeds left on the planet.
Dr. Erve established the Dr. Erve Whooping Moose Reserve near Banff. No one really knew what the tiny animals fed on and I asked Dr. Erve about this.
"It was quite simple. Pine needles. The little fellows thrive on pine needles. A whooping moose will eat up to 10 per cent of its weight in pine needles daily. Millions of metric tons of pine needles in my reserve."
"Ah, I imagine you analyzed their droppings to find out what they ate."
"Wasn't time to deploy teams to collect scats. Creatures were only a heartbeat away from total extinction."
"So how'd you find out what they fed on?"
"We shot them," said Dr. Erve.
"With tranquilizers? I asked.
"No point to that," said the professor. "We knew we'd have to cut open their stomachs, so we used shotguns with number five pellets. Bloody lethal, 'eh?"
"You killed them?" I asked.
"Yes, still had a slight problem. The blast from our shotguns would slam, actually spray, the whooping moose into pine trees.
we were never certain if the pine needles were inside them or if our
field research made it look like they had fed on pine needles. No
alternative but cyanide."
copyright 2003 Jaron Summers