Council Overwhelmingly Accepts Moose Season Changes

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Those who hunt moose in Maine next year are going to see some changes. Today, the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife's 10 member advisory council voted 9-1 to accept the department's proposal that decreases the number of permits issued in some parts of the state, increases the amount of huntable area, and changes what type of permits are issued to hunters.

In the fall of 2003, hunters will be issued an antlerless moose permit or a bull only permit and the number of moose permits issued will change from 3,000 last year to 2,585 permits this year. This past season, hunters were issued an antlerless moose permit, or an any moose permit (cow or bull moose). Wildlife Management District 17 (parts of Western Penobscot, southern Piscataquis and southern Somerset counties) was added as a new moose hunting district.

Last year, the department spent over $220,000 on managing Maine's moose, and that included collecting biological data on harvested moose; analysis of data collected; studies on the population impacts of ticks, parasites and vehicles on moose; design, implementation and analysis of a hunter sighting index; and an aerial census survey east of Moosehead Lake. The information learned was instrumental in crafting the new rules.

These rule changes allow the department to more closely regulate the moose harvest while providing the maximum hunting and viewing opportunities. The rule changes were based on several factors including major changes in habitat, mortality due to lungworm and winter ticks, fewer sightings by hunters while hunting, and new moose population objectives.

These new population objectives adopted by the department and Advisory Council after numerous meetings with the public include increasing the moose population in areas of the state for more hunting and viewing opportunities, stabilizing the populations in others, and protecting larger bulls. The new rules are designed to accomplish that. The number of moose permits will be lower in western Aroostook county as well as Piscataquis, northern Penobscot, northern Franklin and northern Somerset counties. Permits numbers will stay the same in eastern and southern Aroostook, Oxford, southern Franklin, southern Penobscot and Washington counties.

"The dynamics behind Maine's moose population is changing," said Lee Perry, Commissioner of the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife. "Many factors affect the moose population such as habitat changes, predators, and parasites like lung worm and winter ticks. Hunting mortality is the one factor that we can control. These changes are designed to provide a balance between habitat and the public's wishes, as well as provide maximum hunting and viewing opportunities."

This past year there were 85,275 applicants who wanted to hunt moose in Maine. 63,266 of these applicants were residents, and the other 22,009 were non-residents. Over one million dollars is generated through the moose lottery, allowing hunting and fishing licenses to stay at the same price since 1996.