Maine’s moose season is underway
On Monday, Sept. 24 over 800 moose hunters were expected to enter the Maine woods pursuing the state’s most majestic mammal. This is the 38th year of Maine’s modern moose hunt, a hunt which resumed in 1980 after being closed since 1936.
While Monday marks the first day of moose season in northern and eastern Maine, the moose season continues through the fall and is divided into four segments which also includes the weeks of Oct. 8-13 in the northern two thirds of the state, Oct. 22-27 in northern and eastern Maine and Oct. 27 to Nov. 24 in central Maine. In all 2,500 permits were issued to hunt moose this year.
Regulated hunting seasons are how the department manages Maine’s moose population. The number of permits issued for each moose hunting district varies depending on moose population density in the district and publicly derived population objectives.
“Everyone in Maine loves moose,” said Lee Kantar, IFW’s moose biologist. “So we manage the moose population by adjusting the number of permits issued to provide opportunities for both hunting and viewing.”
Last year 1,518 hunters, or 73 percent of the permitted hunters, harvested a moose. The 73 percent success rate is in stark contrast to bear, turkey or deer hunting, where success rates range historically from 18 to 30 percent. Moose hunting in Maine continues to be extremely popular, with over 54,000 hunters applying to the moose lottery for a chance to hunt moose.
All successful moose hunters are required to register their moose at the nearest tagging station. At these stations, IFW wildlife biologists collect data that provides insight into moose population health. A tooth is removed in order to determine the age of the moose. Antler spread (width) is measured on bulls. Ticks are counted on four different areas of the moose to compare numbers to years past. In later weeks moose hunters who shoot a female moose are required to bring the ovaries, which are later examined to determine reproductive success.
This biological data is combined with data from the ongoing moose GPS collar study, as well as the aerial moose population and composition surveys to give biologists a clearer picture of the health and status of Maine’s moose herd.
The department is in the midst of the fifth year of Maine Moose Study which is providing important insight into factors impacting moose reproduction and survival. The research focuses on moose calves and adult female moose in a study area in northern Maine east of the Allagash River and another study area located west of Moosehead Lake.
Over the past five years the department has captured, collared and tracked over 375 moose, providing unique insight into moose survival and reproduction. Calf survival this past winter in the western study unit was the highest it has been at 55 percent survival rate, 13 percent better than the previous year. In the northern study unit, over 70 percent of the calves survived the winter. Adult survival was extremely high as well, with all but one cow surviving the winter in both districts.