© Dan WettlauferManitoba hunters spotted a muskox, similar to the one pictured here, near Tadoule Lake recently and reported it to Manitoba Conservation. It's the first sighting in over a century in this province. This is a photograph of a muskox spotted at the Northwest Territories-Alberta border two years ago.
Conservationists are thrilled to hear hunters in northern Manitoba have spotted a muskox.

Hunters from Tadoule Lake told provincial officials last week they spotted a muskox from their canoe during a hunting trip.

Manitoba Conservation biologist Bill Watkins said the animal hasn't been seen in this province since the late 1800s.

While there are 75,000 muskox in the north, the Arctic animals named for the strong smell they give off during the rutting season, disappeared from this province during the fur trade.

Watkins said the animal is considered to be extirpated in Manitoba, that is, absent here though it continues to exist in other areas.

He said while the sighting is good news, it's too early to say whether the muskox is back to stay.

"We'd have to see evidence of breeding, first of all," he said. "This is a lone male, or as some people have joked, a lonely male. Hopefully in time we'll see some additional animals cross the border and eventually have a small breeding population."

Watkins said officials rely on hunters to keep tabs on rare species like muskox, which is what happened in this case.

He said he is encouraged because of the location of the animal where it was spotted.

"We do have animals that cross borders and then a few days later cross back. But this was well into Manitoba. So it's not like it's right on the border. So hopefully he will find it comfortable and he will stay."