Press Releases

September 17, 2014

Moose Season Set To Begin Monday

AUGUSTA, Maine -- On Monday, September 22, over a thousand moose hunters will enter the woods, embarking on what many call the hunt of a lifetime.

While Monday marks the first day of moose season in northern and eastern Maine, the moose season is divided into four segments and continues throughout the fall during the weeks of October 13-18, November 3-8 and November 3-29 in southern Maine. In all, 3,095 permits were issued to hunt moose in Maine this year.

Regulated hunting seasons is how the department controls Maine’s moose population, estimated at approximately 65,000 to 70,000 animals. Maine's moose population is a valued resource, due to the high demands for both viewing and hunting.

The number of permits issued for each moose hunting district varies depending on moose population density in the district and publicly derived populations objectives, such as managing for recreational opportunity (hunting and viewing), road safety (reducing moose-vehicle collisions) or a combination of both.

"By adjusting the number and type of permits available to hunters, we can control the moose harvest and manage population growth," said Lee Kantar, IFW’s moose biologist. “In the northern part of the state, the goal is to reduce the moose population, and in other areas, stabilize or increase the population.”

Last year, with over 4,000 permits issued, 2,971 moose hunters were successful, translating to nearly three out of every four moose hunters getting a moose. The 72 percent success rate is in stark contrast to bear or deer hunting, where success rates range historically from 18 to 25 percent. Moose hunting in Maine continues to be extremely popular, with over 53,577 hunters applying to the moose lottery for a chance to hunt moose.

This year, the number of moose permits issued to hunters was decreased. The department issued 3,095 permits statewide, down from the 4,110 that were available last year.

“Based upon our research, we felt this was necessary,” said Kantar. “Decreasing the amount of permits will help lessen the impact of winter tick on the state’s moose population.”

In particular, the department decreased the number of antlerless only or cow permits that are available to hunters. Antlerless-only permits were decreased in wildlife management Districts 1-5, 7-9 and 12-13. This is the northern and northwestern part of Maine, including the northern portions of Oxford, Franklin, Somerset, Piscataquis, Penobscot and Aroostook Counties.

Winter ticks have been documented in Maine since the 1930s. Periodically, there are peak years when the number of ticks increased substantially, and last year was a peak year. The number of moose permits were reduced to offset the impact of the high tick year.

All successful moose hunters are required to register their moose at an area tagging station. At these stations, IFW wildlife biologists collect data that provides insight into moose population health.

Biologists will measure antler beam width and diameter. A tooth is removed in order to determine the age of the moose. 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 examined to determine reproductive success.

This biological data is combined with data from the ongoing moose radiocollar 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.