There may be some good news for moose hunters next fall.  

Wildlife biologists have proposed an 11% increase over last year in moose hunting permits. The hunt quota figure is 3,135 permits. That’s the most since 2014. The proposal won’t be final until it has been subjected to public review and given final approval by the Fish and Wildlife Advisory Council. 

V. Paul Reynolds, Outdoors Columnist

The obvious question is: “How come?” If moose population surveys indicate that our state moose numbers are not what they used to be, why increase the fall hunting permits? 

The simple explanation: winter ticks. The long-term management strategy is to reduce tick infestations by culling moose densities in some areas. Lee Kantar, State Moose Biologist for the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, told Bangor Daily News reporter John Holyoke “the additional permits this year come from Wildlife Management Districts 1 through 6, which make up the northern tier of the state, which has plenty of moose habitat and a lot of moose. In all, 2,390 of the 3,135 permits  76% of the statewide total  are proposed to be allotted in those six WMDs.” 

These strategies are a culmination of a seven-year moose population study led by Kantar. He recognizes that this strategy of achieving a healthier herd by reducing numbers may seem counterintuitive to some and a hard sell to the general public. Winter ticks have really altered the management equation and taken a toll on moose with a 50% calf loss in some areas of the state. 

Speaking of change, the Maine Moose Permit Drawing held in June, and one of the biggest spectator events of the month, will not be held in Jackman as scheduled. Fish and Wildlife has announced that the drawing will be conducted without the public in attendance as a “virtual broadcast” on Saturday, June 13 at 1 p.m. 

Along with the drawing of the names of the lucky hunters, there will be some special presentations hosted by Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife Biologists and Game Wardens that will focus on moose biology, wildlife management and moose hunting. 

As the date of the lottery nears, the department will be publishing a schedule of events and details on how to be part of this unique event. 

If you haven’t applied yet for your moose permit, you still have until 11:59 p.m. on May 14 to get your chance at the hunt of a lifetime. Just visit www.mefishwildlife.com and fill out your moose permit application. 

And if you are grounded at home and daydreaming about next fall’s hunt, you might want to check out some photographs of last year’s trophy bulls taken in Maine. Go to www.sportingjournal.com and click on gallery. If this doesn’t get you fired up for next fall’s moose hunt, nothing will. 

V. Paul Reynolds is editor of the Northwoods Sporting Journal. He is also a Maine guide and host of a weekly radio program, “Maine Outdoors,” heard at 7 p.m. Sundays on The Voice of Maine News-Talk Network. He has authored three books; online purchase information is available at www.maineoutdoorpublications.net.

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