For nine exciting days, from October 20 to 28, 2012, lucky moose permit holders and their hunting partners will have the experience of a lifetime taking part in New Hampshire’s annual moose hunt. A total of 275 permit holders were drawn in this year’s lottery, randomly selected by computer from a pool of more than 13,400 applicants. In addition, five hunters will have the chance to hunt moose because they were the highest bidders in an annual auction that benefits the Wildlife Heritage Foundation of New Hampshire, and one permit was granted to youth with serious medical conditions through the Hunt of a Lifetime program. Last fall, New Hampshire hunters had a statewide success rate of 71%.

Each hunter with a moose permit is assigned to hunt in one of 22 wildlife management units throughout the state. Most have spent the past several weeks or months scouting out potential hunting spots in their assigned areas. After taking a moose, hunters must have the animals registered and inspected at one of seven check stations around the state. There, wildlife biologists check each moose to collect information about the overall health of the moose herd. Moose check stations draw many interested onlookers, a reminder of the economic and symbolic importance of moose in New Hampshire, particularly in the North Country. A list of moose check stations is posted at http://www.huntnh.com/Hunting/Hunt_species/hunt_moose.htm.

Whether or not you’re hunting moose this year, get into the spirit of the adventure with a limited-edition 2012 New Hampshire moose hunt commemorative shirt. The new collection is available (through November 23, 2012) online at http://www.huntnh.com/mooseshirt.

As part of a sound management strategy, the moose hunt has been an annual event in New Hampshire for more than twenty years. By 1900, moose were scarce in the Granite State. With the implementation of hunting restrictions and scientific management funded by the federal Wildlife Restoration Program, supported by an excise tax on hunting equipment and ammunition, the population has grown to about 5,000 animals today. New Hampshire’s first modern-day moose hunt took place in 1988, with 75 permits issued in the North Country. At that time, New Hampshire was home to at least 1,600 moose.

Hunters are reminded to avoid consuming moose liver and kidney. Studies conducted by Fish and Game and the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service have revealed high levels of cadmium in some moose livers and kidneys sampled. As a result, officials from the Environmental Health Program at the N.H. Department of Environmental Services recommend that no moose kidney be eaten, and preferably no liver. If individuals do choose to eat moose liver, it should be from moose no older than 1.5 years. If the moose is older than that, consumption should be limited to a maximum of two meals (assuming six ounces per meal) of moose liver per year. Biologists at moose check stations can determine the age of the animal for hunters. If you have questions about this issue, call David Gordon, DES Environmental Health Program, at 603-271-4608.

Try your luck in the moose hunt next year! The next moose hunt permit lottery will open in late January 2013 and run through mid-May; the drawing occurs in June.

Visit a photo gallery of successful N.H. moose hunts — and find out more about moose hunting in New Hampshire — at http://www.huntnh.com/Hunting/Hunt_species/hunt_moose.htm.

Image courtesy New Hampshire Fish and Game Department

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