AUGUSTA — Maine’s moose hunt lottery – scheduled for June 13 in Bethel – looks like it will allot roughly the same number of permits as last year, the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife announced Thursday.

State Wildlife Division Director Judy Camuso said the department is recommending reducing the number of permits from 3,095 to 2,815, a reduction of 9 percent (or 280 permits). The moose population appears stable statewide, Camuso told the department’s Advisory Council, which will vote in March on the number of permits.

Last June, after the council set the permits at 4,085, the department reduced the number by 25 percent to 3,095, the fewest since 2009, in an emergency action after a study showed that winter ticks caused an unusual amount of winter mortality on the statewide herd.

Winter tick is a parasite that attacks hoofed animals.

That five-year study, now in its second year, is a collaborative project with the department and the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department that looks at the mortality of female moose and calves affixed with radio collars.

The study aims to give the department a closer read on the moose population, last estimated at 75,000 statewide.


“In (hunting zone) 2 in northern Maine we are reducing the number of permits by 300. That is just to maintain the population there,” Camuso said, adding that permits are being added slightly in other hunting districts. “The rest of the districts are minor tweaks.”

State moose biologist Lee Kantar said only time will tell if the moose population again sees a die-off because of winter ticks. If that proves the case again this spring, the department will adjust hunting permits again.

“We are aware of things like winter ticks. Some years they’re worse than others. That is what we’re trying to explore in this study,” Kantar said.

Kantar added that without the five-year radio-collar study and the dead moose that were recovered from it last winter, the department would not have known how severe the winter tick mortality was last spring. The department has recovered 33 of 60 moose affixed with radio collars this year, the first year of the study.

Moose in Maine are at the southern end of the species’ range, which makes them more prone to disease and parasites, Camuso said. In addition, the department has documented winter tick outbreaks in the Maine moose population dating to the 1920s and they have proven to be a cyclical event, Camuso said.

Commissioner Chandler Woodcock added that the department also hopes to encourage hunters to recover and turn in ovaries from female moose to further the department’s understanding of the herd’s health and potential for growth. Hunters are asked to collect and turn in ovaries from cow moose killed in the hunt, but few do.

“We want to encourage hunters to comply with what to us is a meaningful study,” Woodcock said.

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