The hunter realised seconds later and immediately told zoo staff

The hunter, who has not been named, was hunting near the Polar Park Arctic Wildlife Centre in Trom, northern Norway, when he shot two moose who live in the zoo by mistake.

The group was hunting moose with specially trained dogs on October 7. One of the dogs went under the fence into the park following the scent of one animals and the hunter took his shot. The bullet passed through one animal and killed it, and the bullet lodged in the stomach of another which had to be put down.

The hunter, who is a local man, went to the park to tell staff of his mistake.

“I was surprised. I had my mouth open for a while. This has never happened before – and I don’t think it will happen again,” said Polar Park CEO Heinz Strathmann. “We can’t explain what happened, but probably the hunter must have been so eager that he didn’t think.”

A regrettable mistake

Arne Nysted, chair of the wildlife tribunal in Troms County, said: “This is a regrettable mistake made in connection with lawful hunting on the outside of the park. It was a fatal error, but everyone understands that it was not done at all on purpose.”

The moose, also referred to as elk, are not an endangered species. They were two of five moose living in the wildlife centre, which is home to a wide range of animals such as reindeer, mink, bears, wolves, lynx and wolverines. The animals are kept in their natural surroundings in the park which is more than 570 km sq.

Hunting in Norway is popular

Hunting is strictly regulated in Norway but remains a popular sport. Hunters must be over 16 and skilled in handling firearms, and Norwegian residents must take a proficiency test before hunting for the first time.

The police have said the man could be prosecuted under an article in Norway’s Wildlife Act that regulates humane hunting.

The park will not be pressing charges but is asking that the hunters to pay for the cost of purchasing two new moose, the cost of the vet, autopsy, transportation and destruction of the carcasses. A moose costs about 30,000 Krone which is £2,400.

The park will be holding meetings before next season to highlight the boundaries of the park to hunters.