For the first time since the 19th century, a muskox has been spotted in Manitoba.
A large bull was spied last Thursday by five hunters who were looking for caribou near the boundary with Nunavut.
Jo-Jo Thorassie, one of the hunters, said the mammal was near the shore of a big lake but they didn’t go near it out of fear the animal might charge them.
There are more than 75,000 muskoxen across Canada’s north, but the big mammal officially is listed as hunted out in Manitoba because no specimen has been seen in the province since the 1800s.
They disappeared toward the end of the fur trade as their range contracted because of pressure from hunting and commercial harvesting.
Muskoxen—distant relatives of goats and sheep—are well-adapted to Arctic winters and are famous for forming defensive rings around their calves when threatened by predators.
Bill Watkins, a biologist for Manitoba Conservation and Water Stewardship’s wildlife branch, said he’s excited by the hunters’ discovery because he’s believed muskoxen eventually would take up residence in the province again.