IFW to Review Moose Options

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As a result of a public meeting on moose-vehicle collisions held in Madawaska on August 15, 2003, the Commissioner of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, Roland D Martin has asked his staff to review existing statutes and rules, management goals and objectives, and current permit allocations and make recommendations on possible courses of action to address safety concerns. "I need to know and fully understand what our options are and also what authority we have, said Martin. Also, everyone needs to understand that this is a statewide issue, and that moose-vehicle accidents are not limited to any specific geographic area. Moose-vehicle accidents occur in every region of the state."

During Friday's meeting, Commissioner Martin was presented with a petition containing over 2,700 names. "Although the petition does not request anything specific, it is clear to me that folks in northern Maine would like the Department to reduce the moose population by increasing the number of permits," Martin said. " We cannot ignore this level of concern," he added. The Commissioner said that once he is briefed on all possible options, he would make a determination as to how to proceed.

The Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife has the legislative mandate to manage Maine's moose population to provide for recreational opportunity (hunting and viewing) while addressing safety concerns. "The Commissioner has the authority to manage Maine's moose population and to establish the number of moose permits that are issued annually, however, this has to be reviewed and endorsed by the Fish and Wildlife Advisory Council", said Martin. "In 2003, the Department increased the number of antlerless-only (cow) permits in Wildlife Management District 3 by 50% (from 100 to 150) and by 40% in District 6 to begin reducing the moose population in these two northern districts. Efforts to reduce the moose population will continue in these districts, but a population response will take more time," he added.

One option that the Commissioner is considering is reconvening the Big Game Working Group (the group was formed in 1999 to develop management goals and objectives for moose) to see if moose management goals in some Wildlife Management Districts should be revisited. Increasing the number of permits in certain areas may also be considered for the 2004 season. "I'd like to meet and discuss this with the members of the working group. They may agree and decide that the time is right to take another look at the management objectives established three years ago," Martin said.

Martin said that the Department would continue to work with the Departments of Transportation and Public Safety and the Legislature in an effort to reduce the incidence and severity of moose-vehicle collisions. "The Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife may be able to establish the number of moose permits; we need to cooperate with the other agencies on issues such as widening right of ways and installing signs and warnings."