Just more than 10 years ago, Maine’s moose population was estimated to be at 29,000 based on the wildlife department’s aerial surveys. This year, the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (DIFW) announced that an aerial survey determined an estimate of about 75,000 moose, more than double the previous estimation.
This past winter, DIFW Biologist Lee Kantar conducted an aerial survey in a low-flying helicopter for the second straight year. Kantar was able to survey nine of the 12 hunting districts accurately because of ideal clear conditions. Moose roam in large numbers in those districts.
“The technique of flying the helicopter is a statistically reliable technique. It gives us a finer level of detail than we had in the past. And conditions were perfect, with low wind. It’s a great success story,” Kantar said to the Portland Press Herald.
This means that DIFW may award more moose permits in future years, but the lottery drawing for this year is already over. This year, 3,725 permits were allotted, just 137 less than last year. The 3,862 permits issued last year resulted in a total harvest of 2,582 moose.
These new numbers would make Maine the state with the largest moose population in the lower 48 states. The latest moose estimates in Montana reported 6,000 moose, Wyoming reported 13,500 and Minnesota 12,000. Combined, those three states don’t come close to Maine’s population total. Alaska continues to have the highest population in United States, with an estimated 200,000 in a 2011 count.
Image from mamanat on the flickr Creative Commons