After a record season for moose hunters last year, moose season begins Monday in the northern and eastern part of the state. But even though there are more permits this year than ever before, permit numbers are increasing in one area of the state, and decreasing in others.
“The increase in permit numbers may be deceiving,” said IFW moose biologist Lee Kantar, “We have increased the number of permits in the northern section of the state where the moose population is above our population goal, and have lowered the number of permits in other parts of the state where we are at or below our moose population goals.”
In all, permits have increased in five northern wildlife management districts that can support additional harvest, and permits have decreased in 12 wildlife management districts. There are 25 out of 29 wildlife management districts in the state that are open for moose hunting.
“By adjusting the number and type of permits available to hunters, we can control the moose harvest and manage population growth,” says Kantar.
Maine’s moose population is estimated at under 70,000 animals, reduced intentionally from the 76,000 it was two years ago through increased permits to hunt moose. Maine’s moose population is a valued resource, due to the high demands for both viewing and hunting. Moose population goals are derived through a public process, and different areas of the state are classified for recreational opportunity (hunting and viewing), road safety, or a compromise between the two.
Maine’s moose hunting season is divided into four separate segments. The first segment runs from September 23-28; the second from October 14-19; the third segment from November 4-9; and the fourth from November 2 through 30. This week there are 950 hunters who have permits for northern and eastern Maine during the initial week of the season.
In order to assess and monitor moose population health and growth, the department is once again asking cow moose hunters during the November season who are hunting in Northern Maine (WMDs 1-5, 7, 8) to bring the ovaries to the registration station where they tag their moose. IFW is examining the ovaries to help determine rates of pregnancy.
This information, coupled with the information on harvested bull and cow age structure obtained from moose teeth that are collected at moose registration stations are combined with our aerial surveys to give the department a more complete picture of the status of the moose population.