January 30, 2015

IFW News -- Nearly two-thirds of moose hunters successful in 2014

AUGUSTA, Maine -- Despite brief warm spells during both the September and October moose seasons, 65% of all moose hunters harvested a moose last season.

With 3,095 moose permits issued, 2,022 hunters were successful in getting their moose. Hunter success rates varied throughout different regions of the state with over 80 percent of the hunters getting moose in Wildlife Management Districts 3 and 5 in Aroostook County and under 10 percent of hunters getting a moose in WMDs 23 and 25 in Waldo and Knox Counties.

The 65% success rate for hunters is lower than the 73% success rate for hunters in 2013.

“Weather certainly played a factor,” said IFW’s moose biologist Lee Kantar. “Moose tend to travel less and spend more time in cover when it’s hot. Hunter effort also declines.”

Maine’s moose season is split into three segments with six-day seasons in September, October and November. Temperatures were above 80 degrees on the first day of the season in September, and despite a cool start to the October season, warmer weather in the 70s prevailed during the middle of the October season.

“We expect to see a higher success rate in September, as moose are more receptive to calling,” said Kantar. “But in WMD 3, only 79% of the hunters were successfully in September compared to 91% in October. ”

Kantar also added that there are fewer moose on the landscape than in previous years.

“Looking at the survival data from our radio-collared moose last year, we know that winter ticks during the winter of 2014 had an impact on moose,” said Kantar. “It was an impact that was likely above normal, somewhat similar in its impact to a tough winter on deer.” As a result, the department decreased the number of permits available to moose hunters.

The radio-collar moose study is just one aspect of the department’s ongoing research on Maine’s moose.

IFW is currently in its fifth year of conducting aerial surveys to estimate moose abundance and population composition (composition of male/females; adults/calves). The aerial surveys provide data used to estimate the moose population and health of the herd. During the moose hunting season, biologists also examine teeth to determine a moose’s age, measure antler spread, monitor the number of ticks a moose carries and examine ovaries in November to determine reproductive rates.

Biologists are set to recommend moose permit numbers for the fall 2015 moose season. The number of available moose permits is based upon population numbers and the composition of the moose population in wildlife management districts, as well as the population goals and objectives for that district.

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