CONCORD, N.H. — The number of moose hunting permits awarded by lottery is down significantly, and so was the mood of celebration as hunters packed New Hampshire Fish and Game headquarters Friday in hopes of hearing their names called.

Fish and Game officials announced the winners of this year’s 124 permits – fewer than half the 275 awarded in recent years.

The reduced numbers didn’t dampen attendance, but the “whoops” of winners were seldom heard.

Only one hunter in the standing-room-only audience won – Keven Lefebvre of New Boston. He’s been enrolled in the lottery since it began in 1988 and won a permit 10 years ago – the only year he didn’t attend the drawing.

The decline in permits offered this year reflects a drop in the moose population – from a peak of about 7,600 in 1996 to about 4,400.

Fish and Game officials, in partnership with the University of New Hampshire, are in the first year of a three-year study of the causes of moose mortality and how changing weather patterns may be affecting the animals.

Researchers have placed tracking collars on more than 40 moose so far this year and are investigating whether winter ticks are the main factor in the declining population or whether there are other causes.