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Rep. Ellie Espling (R-New Gloucester)
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For Immediate Release

Date: 04/02/12

Rep. Espling writes column on moose lottery reforms

Moose lottery reforms reward repeated attempts

By Rep. Ellie Espling

You've heard it said over and over again, "I have been applying for a moose permit for years and never gotten one, while the kid down the road got one on his first try." Or you might have heard this one: "My buddy got drawn for a moose permit for the third time, and I have never been drawn even once."

Not everyone is into moose hunting, of course. The moose lottery might not be foremost in your thoughts. However, it is very important for those hunters who look forward to applying for a permit every year in hopes of getting drawn, some for the first time ever. With the permit lottery scheduled for June 23, the anticipation is beginning to build.

If you have never been to a moose permit drawing, I suggest you go as a spectator. The event draws people from all over the state to watch the names being called. Folks sit for hours in library-like silence so they don't miss a name in hopes of hearing their own or one of a friend. The camaraderie is strong among these dedicated sportsmen (and even non-sportsmen) who just like to be a part of the moose hunt - from the application process, to the drawing, to the actual hunt.

So let's get back to those nagging questions we hear from hunters who have never won. Those were the questions that the Inland Fisheries and Wildlife Committee tried to address last year. Many moose bills were submitted to our committee. Some recommended increasing the number of permits. Others suggested changes in specific wildlife management districts.

Those of us who have been to a moose permit lottery know how complicated it is, and I knew that once we started tweaking the rules, they would be more complicated than ever. We took a lot of time deliberating how to best address some of the issues with the moose lottery. The following is a list of recommendations that have become law.

* The Moose Research and Management Fund was established. The Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife will, under their new department restructuring, have a full-time dedicated moose biologist, Lee Kantar. Previously, Mr. Kantar was overseeing deer and moose. He can now dedicate his time exclusively to moose.

* A moose hunting permit for a non-resident increases from $484 to $585. No change is made to the resident fee of $52.

* If you are drawn for a permit, you will then have to sit out the lottery for three years, an increase from two years. Still, you can start accumulating bonus points during those three years.

* Maine residents formerly could purchase multiple chances for the annual drawing. A resident can buy one chance for $15. In looking at the odds, however, everyone has better odds of being picked by purchasing only one chance. Longtime applicants who have not won have better odds of winning. First-time applicants and folks who have recently won have worse odds.

Non-residents are competing for only about 10 percent of the permits in each district. This year, that will amount to about 376 permits statewide. Last year, more than 13,000 non-residents applied for permits and their odds of winning were one out of 416. Residents submitted more than 36,000 applications and stood a one in 76 chance of winning. Drawings for residents and non-residents are held separately.

Last year, overall, Maine residents won 3,468 permits, while non-residents won 376, with the total moose harvest at 2,582.

Let's consider a couple of examples of how this new system works.

When a resident is applying for the 14th time, for instance, he or she will have accumulated 27 bonus points and one ($15) chance for a total of 28 draws. Consequently, they are about 28 times more likely to win than the person applying for the first time, who has one chance.

A non-resident applying for the 14th time has 27 bonus points and 10 chances, for a total of 37 draws. Those 10 chances cost a total of $55 (or one for $15). That person is only 3.7 times as likely to win when compared to the non-resident applying for the first time with 10 chances ($55). The odds drop from there. When they buy 100 chances for $550, they then have 127 draws, but are only 1.27 times as likely to win when compared to the non-resident applying for the first time with 100 chances.

In other words, residents stand a much better chance of winning a permit than do non-residents, and the system rewards repeated attempts, especially for Maine citizens.

For this year's lottery, paper applications are due by April 2. Online applications must be in by May 14. I hope to attend the drawing in Rangeley in June, and I look forward to seeing some of you there.

State Rep. Ellie Espling (R-New Gloucester) serves on the Inland Fisheries and Wildlife Committee

Jay Finegan
Maine House Republicans
Tel: (207) 287-1445