by Arlen Lovewell, Asst. Regional Wildlife Biologist, MDIFW Ashland Office
The 2012 controlled moose hunt for selected towns in Aroostook County ended on September 15. The season for this special hunt ran from August 20 through September 15, allowing hunters 4 weeks to harvest moose from selected towns and croplands. Only 50 moose permits were issued for this special hunt. At the close of the controlled moose hunt on September 15, hunters harvested 18 cows, 12 bulls, and 2 calves for a total of 32 moose.
Not to be confused with the upcoming recreational moose hunt, the purpose of the controlled moose hunt is to: (1) reduce the incidence of crop damage, mostly on broccoli, in selected towns in Aroostook County and (2) reduce the incidence of moose/vehicle collisions along the Route #1 and Route # 161 corridor. This hunt is a focused effort to harvest or remove moose in response to farmers concerns for extensive crop damage and to address concerns for the high number of moose/vehicle collisions in eastern Aroostook County. The controlled moose hunt is meant to provide the Department with greater flexibility for putting moose hunters in relatively small areas that need or require a very high moose harvest.
This is the 4th year for the controlled moose hunt. This year the number of moose permits has been reduced from 100 permits down to 50 in response to a lower moose population and fewer crop damage complaints in broccoli fields. Of the 50 moose permits that were allocated by a lottery drawing 18 permits were available to guides, 17 permits went to landowners, and 15 permits were allocated to disabled veterans. This year selected guides and there designated permitees were allowed to shoot only antlerless moose. Selected landowners and disabled veterans were allowed to shoot moose of either sex (any-moose permit).
Although the 32 moose removed is a very low moose harvest the intent of this program is to address very specific moose damage issues and concerns in a relatively small area. Additional moose will also be harvested in these same areas during the recreational moose hunting season keeping moose populations at a level that will allow local farmers to grow commercial crops into the fall season.
All indications are that this fall will be excellent for hunting in northern Maine. Many of the most sought after game species such as black bear, ruffed grouse, Canada geese, and moose are abundant and the lack of some fall wildlife foods, mostly soft and hard mast crops, will make some wildlife species slightly more vulnerable to hunting. I can’t quite put deer in this category, but there is a significant upswing in the deer population due to some easy winters. Deer numbers, particularly in the north Maine woods, are not what they were 20-30 years ago, however with the mild winters we have seen a significant rebound in the deer population in the organized towns and the surrounding peripheral woodlands. We are expecting a significant increase in deer sightings and harvest this fall, in particular, deer hunters should harvest numerous yearling and 2 1/2 year old bucks.
It’s not often that many of our favorite game species are all on the up-swing at the same time, but that does seem to be the case this fall. Take advantage of this opportunity, not only to hunt but to enjoy Maine’s fall season.