December 3, 2023

More Moose Harvested in Maine’s WMD9

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I’ve always shown my anger when any fish and game agency makes decisions on how to manage wildlife based on social demands instead of science. Maine has been no exception and yes, I understand that the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (MDIFW) claim that by law they are required to do what the people who don’t hunt and fish and pay the bills, tell them to do.

Recall also, last year when the MDIFW announced they were planning to increase moose hunting permits in Wildlife Management District (WMD) 9 (east of Moosehead Lake) by 50 cow permits. WMD 9 has traditionally been a Bull Moose Permit only region every year since at least 2005. With the announcement of the increase in permits, with those 50 extra permits being for cow moose, the moose watchers began making demands to the Commissioner to not allow the increase in permits. Regardless as to whether or not the proposal was based on science and needed to meet the scientific management goals of MDIFW, the commissioner caved in and called off the increase in permits.

The last moose hunting season is over and the data is in…finally. What was once proposed as being 75 bull moose permits and 50 cow moose permits, ended up being just 75 bull moose permits so that the moose watchers could have more moose for collisions, diseases, viewing.

So let’s see what happened. In 2014, 75 Bull Only Permits (BOP) were issued for WMD 9. 53 bull moose were harvested at a success rate of 71%. This past season, 75 BOP were issued for WMD 9 and 65 bull moose were harvested, with a success rate of 87%. (An examination of the moose harvest data for years 2005 – 2015 can show harvest trends for WMD 9.)

The Commissioner opted to not increase cow permits but 12 more bull moose were killed than the previous year with a higher success rate. This should tell us that at least part of that equation must contain data that would show there were more moose in WMD 9 than the previous year, and years prior to. I wonder if the moose watchers saw more moose and made more money? I also wonder how long the Commissioner will allow this sort of pressure to dictate moose management decisions and at what cost those decisions will be on the health of a sustainable moose herd in WMD 9?

Time will tell.