Citing good hunting weather and other factors, Maine’s moose biologist said that despite a decrease in moose permits issued by the state this year, more hunters actually filled their tags.
Percentage-wise, the success rate soared to 80 percent during the 2015 season. A year ago, just 65 percent of hunters were successful.
Overall, according to a Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife press release, the state’s moose herd appears to be in good health.
“We had a number of moose [that were tagged] that weighed in excess of 1,000 pounds,” DIF&W moose biologist Lee Kantar said. “The moose we examined looked very healthy, with [a] good percentage of body fat stored for the winter.”
This year’s moose hunt was split among four seasons — six-day sessions in September, October and November and a month-long season in some southern zones that coincides with the firearms season on deer during November.
Hunters are selected to participate in one session through a state-run lottery.
According to the DIF&W’s preliminary numbers, about 2,200 of the 2,740 permit-holders was successful in filling a tag this year. A year ago, 2,022 of 3,095 hunters filled their tags.
In February, Kantar said that he and other state wildlife biologists annually look at each Wildlife Management District to determine whether the number of permits allotted in those zones should be changed from year to year.
During the latest review, 12 percent fewer permits were approved for 2015 than a year earlier.
“There’s a goal and an objective for each management district and that is based on what the public wants,” Kantar explained at the time. “The department’s charge is to try to meet [those] goals and objectives. What we’ve been through over the last several years, we have some districts that have come into the target [range], so you reduce permits there, especially on the cow side of things.”
In the press release, Kantar pointed out that this year’s total moose harvest is still a work in progress.
“The numbers are still preliminary, but it looks as though better hunting weather, later seasons and fewer permits all contributed to a higher success rate for hunters,” Kantar said.
The DIF&W uses the hunting season to manage the moose population according to publicly generated goals. In some areas where traffic accidents are a particular concern, more moose permits may be allotted. In some zones where moose-watching draws tourists, hunters may hit the woods in only one of the season’s sessions, rather than two or more.
According to the state, an average 850-pound moose will provide more than 450 pounds of meat.
“Hunting in Maine is a tradition,” DIF&W wildlife division director Judy Camuso said in the release. “Not only does it help us manage healthy wildlife populations, but it also provides organic, free-range protein to thousands of families in Maine and beyond.”
Kantar said the available data will be supplemented by a more official harvest total that will be released by the end of January.
“Each year at moose registration stations, we examine over 90 percent of the moose that are harvested,” he said in the release. “By comparing the data to years past, we can get a fairly accurate estimate of how many hunters were successful.”