On Monday, Sept. 25, more than 700 moose hunters will enter the Maine woods seeking Maine’s most majestic mammal. This is the 37th 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. 9-14 in the northern two thirds of the state, Oct. 23-28 in northern and eastern Maine, and Oct. 28 to Nov. 25 in central Maine. In all, 2,080 permits were issued to hunt moose in Maine 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, such as managing for recreational opportunity (hunting and viewing), road safety (reducing moose-vehicle collisions), or a combination of both.
“Everyone enjoys Maine’s moose,” said Lee Kantar, Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife moose biologist. “By adjusting the number of moose permits in different areas of the state, we can manage the population and provide opportunities for both hunting and viewing.”
Last year, 1,609 hunters, or 75 percent of the permitted hunters, harvested a moose. The 75 percent success rate is in stark contrast to bear, turkey, or deer hunting, where success rates range historically from 18-30 percent. Moose hunting in Maine continues to be extremely popular, with 53,919 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, Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife 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 beam width and diameter are measured. 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 in the ovaries, which are later microscopically 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.