September 25, 2020

MDIFW NEWS: Monday Marks The 40th Year of Maine's Modern Moose Hunt

AUGUSTA, Maine -- On Monday, September 28th, over 900 moose hunters are expected to enter the Maine woods pursuing Maine's most majestic mammal. This is the 40th year of Maines 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 October 12-17 in the northern two thirds of the state, October 26-31 in northern and eastern Maine, and November 2-28 in central Maine. In all, 3,135 permits were issued to hunt moose in Maine this year.

Regulated hunting seasons are how the department manages Maines 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.

"Maine is known for moose," said Lee Kantar, MDIFWs moose biologist. "And we manage the moose population by adjusting the number of permits issued to provide opportunities for both hunting and viewing."

Last year, 1,948 hunters, or 69% of the permitted hunters, harvested a moose. The 69% 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 59,000 hunters applying to the moose lottery for a chance to hunt moose.

With dry conditions this year, moose hunters may want to adjust their tactics.

With the drier conditions and a later start to the September moose season, hunters are likely to have better sighting conditions in the woods, and moose are likely to be found closer to water sources, said Kantar. Kantar also noted that hunters may want to take advantage of cooler weather in the morning, since temperatures are supposed to be mild in the beginning of the week.

All successful moose hunters are required to register their moose at the nearest tagging station. At these stations, MDIFW 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 Maines moose herd.

The Department is in the midst of the seventh 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. A new adaptive study area was recently added in western Aroostook county. Over the past seven years, the department has captured, collared and tracked over 500 moose, providing unique insight into moose survival and reproduction.