Moose Season Begins Today

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Moose hunters get their chance at a trophy starting on Monday, September 22. The first week of the two-week moose hunting season begins Monday in northern and eastern parts of the state. The second week of the split season begins on Monday, October 13 in the northern two-thirds of the state.

This year, 2,585 moose hunting permits were issued. 435 permits were issued for the September hunt, and the other 2,150 permits are for October. There were 78,003 people who applied to hunt moose in Maine. 56,086 of these applicants were residents, and 21,917 were non-residents.

Karen Morris, the Department's leading biologist on moose, says that moose are in prime physical shape this time of year, just as they begin their mating season or "rut". Bull moose typically lose between 10-20% of their body weight during the rut. Foliage has started to turn, but is still dense in all areas of the state. While hunters may not be able to see as far into the woods, that disadvantage will be more than outweighed by a moose's willingness to come to a moose call.

Hunting is the department's primary management tool for wildlife populations. This year the department is issuing bull only and antlerless only moose permits to more closely regulate the moose harvest while trying to maximize hunting and viewing opportunities, as well as limit moose-vehicle accidents.

The permit 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 moose population objectives.

The moose population objectives were adopted by the department and Advisory Council after numerous meetings with the public and include increasing the moose population in areas of the state for more hunting and viewing opportunities, stabilizing or decreasing the populations in others, and protecting larger bulls.

While overall permit numbers may be down statewide, permit numbers will stay the same in eastern and southern Aroostook, Oxford, southern Franklin, southern Penobscot and Washington counties. However, in Northeastern, Eastern and Southern Aroostook Counties, antlerless only permits have been increased by 45% to remove females out of the population in order to decrease the moose population in those areas. The number of moose permits are lower in western Aroostook county as well as Piscataquis, northern Penobscot, northern Franklin and northern Somerset counties to allow the moose population to increase.