November 26, 2021

Maine Now Offers Elitist, Privileged Moose Hunting Opportunities

Here I go again about to make more enemies within the hunting community. Due to Maine Governor Paul LePage’s failure to veto a very bad hunting bill, “An Act To Promote the Maine Economy and Support Maine’s Sporting Camp Tradition” went into effect on January 12, 2014. The governor did not sign the bill either. By default, it became law.

The bill began as LD738 and then was amended, actually replaced by S-304.

It creates a new moose hunting permit lottery system for hunting outfitters, who may sell or transfer the permits as part of an eating, lodging and hunting package. The permits made available for this lottery, if any, will come from 10% of the number of permits that exceed 3,140, which is the total number of moose hunting permits issued in 2010. Individuals hunting with permits issued under this system must hunt with a licensed Maine guide. Proceeds of the new lottery system will be allocated to youth conservation education programs under certain conditions and any remainder will be allocated to the Moose Research and Management Fund.

This is wrong on many levels. First, this action steals away from Maine residents, the same opportunity as anyone else to have the opportunity to hunt a moose. Whether it is one permit or 1,000, any number of permits that are allocated to specific special interest or those only with the ability to pay more money than anyone else, is wrong.

Second, this is nothing more than government subsidizing of private business. What makes it doubly worse is that it is the conservation-minded hunters’ tax dollars, from fees paid for licenses, that provides for the management of moose herds in the State of Maine. Is it right then that those tax payers have their moose hunting opportunities taken away from them for the purpose of subsidizing Maine guides and outfitters, who, according to the stipulations of the bill, provides for the sale of moose permits to wealthy “sports” who can afford them.

Third, there exists a number of people in Maine who have never had the opportunity to hunt moose. Some have tried every year since the moose hunt was reimplemented. Think now how these few will feel? Many hunters each season lament the problems with the moose lottery in that with its design, some have obtained several permits while others have never received one. These hunters have demanded changes to a more fair system.

Fourth, none of the money generated from these moose permits that will go to the privileged will do anything to enhance moose hunting in Maine. One might be able to argue that the increased revenues would be used to improve the moose herd and overall bettering moose hunting opportunities, but it’s not set up that way.

Singling out sporting camps and in addition singling out only those sporting camps that meet certain requirements, perhaps above beyond even the majority of camps and outfitters, is doubling down on commonality while promoting privilege and elitism in the hunting community. Are these moose now property of the king?

I am all for enhancing hunting opportunities when the science dictates those harvest requirements. But those opportunities must be made available to ALL those who buy a license to hunt. Setting aside advantages to targeted groups is wrong.

The bill is designed to take advantage of a growing number of moose permits being made available because of a robust moose population. Should the number of permits drop below the 3,140, no specialized and privileged moose permits would be available. However, this last moose season, moose permits totaled 4,100 or 960 more than the 3,140. No matter what kind of spin you want to put on this, that’s 96 moose opportunities taken away from the residents of Maine, some who have been trying since the very first moose lottery system to get a permit. This just isn’t right.

Governor LePage should have stiffened his spine and vetoed a very bad bill designed to enhance the privileged while doubling down on the regular hunters of the state, stealing away their deserving opportunities to hunt moose.

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Maine Police Officer “Unintentionally” Shoots Cow Moose

According to the Lewiston Sun Journal, Farmington, Maine police sergeant, Edward Hastings, while legally hunting with a shooting partner for moose during the annual moose hunt in Maine, “unintentionally” killed a cow moose and a bull moose. I believe that the intent was to kill only the bull.

Hastings immediately notified authorities, including his boss at the Farmington Police. The Maine Warden Service is charging Hastings with “a rule violation.”

What wasn’t exactly pointed out in the news article is that Hastings, by lottery, had drawn a permit for a bull moose. You can find the results of the moose lottery on the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (MDIFW) website. A screen shot is included below.

hastingsmoosepermit

By rule, the winner of a moose lottery can name a shooting partner. That partner can legally shoot a moose for the permit holder. The news article is not completely clear as to whether or not the shooting partner fired any shots at the moose, only to state that the investigation revealed it supposedly was Hasting’s bullet that killed the cow. It appears the shooting partner was not charged. And, of course, by rule if your permit is for a bull moose, you cannot legally shoot a cow moose.

I’m sure that Mr. Hastings had no “intention” to shoot two moose and one ended up being a cow. From the news report it states:

Hastings and his moose-hunting permit partner shot at a bull moose during the legal season on Oct. 16 in Freeman Township, but when they got to the site where the moose fell, two moose were down — a bull and a cow, Lt. Tim Place of the Maine Warden Service said Thursday.

It is also, by rule, the responsibility of the hunter to be 100% sure of his or her target. Apparently, Hastings and his shooting partner were not 100% sure. The news article also stated:

Hastings’ case was treated the same as those of other violators, Place said.

Failure to identify a target is pretty cut and dry, with no room left for error, when it involves the shooting of a human. Not that a moose and a human are equal in value of life (maybe to some it is) but it will be interesting to see to what extent, if any, failing to identify target will play in this court hearing.

And let’s hope that preferential treatment isn’t extended to Hastings because he is a member of the law enforcement fraternity.

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How Many Months Before Maine Releases Moose Harvest Information?

It’s an ongoing frustration for many of Maine’s license holders, those who pay dearly for the salaries and programs at the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife(MDIFW). They must wait for several months before MDIFW releases even preliminary deer, bear and moose harvest information.

With a lot of “urging”, better recognized as bitching and complaining, MDIFW last deer season was able to at least give out some preliminary numbers of how many deer were taken. This was done within about a month after the close of the season, if memory serves me correctly.

Over in neighboring New Hampshire, where a 9-day moose hunt will end on Sunday (oh yeah, N.H. hunts on Sundays), officials presented harvest data midway through the hunt. 281 permits were issued via lottery in New Hampshire, and as of October 23, 119 moose had been taken – 63 bulls and 56 cows. And, they even knew hos this compared to last season’s moose hunt for the same period. WOW!

A report published on The Outdoor Wire, did not say “around” 119 moose. It specifically said 119, as well as a breakdown of bulls and cows. In Maine? CRICKETS!

What’s the holdup?

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Two Maine Men in Successful Moose Hunt

Milt Inman sent me this photograph of a couple of Maine men near where he lives that were successful in bagging a young spike bull moose. Congratulations!

greenwoodmoosehunters

Milt Inman Photo

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Maine Moose Hunting Success

I was so happy, but not as happy as my dear friends who went on a moose hunting expeditions into the Allagash Region of northwestern Maine, to learn of their success. Congratulations!

The hunters were also on a bit of a side mission for me. I had requested that when they took a moose, if they could look for Hydatid cysts in the organs of their moose. It was reported, thankfully, that to their untrained eyes, none were found.

Below is a photo of the couple and their young bull moose, along with a brief caption of the event.

nanimoose

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Moose Season Set To Begin Monday In Northern, Eastern Areas Of Maine

AUGUSTA, Maine — After a record season for moose hunters last year, moose season begins Monday in the northern and eastern part of the state. But even though there are more permits this year than ever before, permit numbers are increasing in one area of the state, and decreasing in others.

“The increase in permit numbers may be deceiving,” said IFW moose biologist Lee Kantar, “We have increased the number of permits in the northern section of the state where the moose population is above our population goal, and have lowered the number of permits in other parts of the state where we are at or below our moose population goals.”

In all, permits have increased in five northern wildlife management districts that can support additional harvest, and permits have decreased in 12 wildlife management districts. There are 25 out of 29 wildlife management districts in the state that are open for moose hunting.

“By adjusting the number and type of permits available to hunters, we can control the moose harvest and manage population growth,” says Kantar.

Maine’s moose population is estimated at under 70,000 animals, reduced intentionally from the 76,000 it was two years ago through increased permits to hunt moose. Maine’s moose population is a valued resource, due to the high demands for both viewing and hunting. Moose population goals are derived through a public process, and different areas of the state are classified for recreational opportunity (hunting and viewing), road safety, or a compromise between the two.

Maine’s moose hunting season is divided into four separate segments. The first segment runs from September 23-28; the second from October 14-19; the third segment from November 4-9; and the fourth from November 2 through 30. This week there are 950 hunters who have permits for northern and eastern Maine during the initial week of the season.

In order to assess and monitor moose population health and growth, the department is once again asking cow moose hunters during the November season who are hunting in Northern Maine (WMDs 1-5, 7, 8) to bring the ovaries to the registration station where they tag their moose. IFW is examining the ovaries to help determine rates of pregnancy.

This information, coupled with the information on harvested bull and cow age structure obtained from moose teeth that are collected at moose registration stations are combined with our aerial surveys to give the department a more complete picture of the status of the moose population.

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Applications for the 2013 Maine Moose Permit Lottery now are being accepted.

The deadline for online applications is May 14, 2013.

If you applied for a moose permit last year or the year before, all of your information is pre-filled into this year’s online application. To start, type in your first name, last name and date of birth the same way as in 2012 or 2011. The computer will look up your information. Please review your personal data and make any necessary changes. It’s easy!

Once you’ve filled out and paid for your application, you’ll be able to print out a confirmation page. An email confirmation will also be sent to you.

Permit winners and their subpermittees will be able to hunt in one of the department’s 25 wildlife management districts (WMD’s), which cover more than 21,000 square miles.

Legislative changes put into effect last year have given long-time lottery applicants who have never won a permit a better chance at winning.

Bonus points are awarded for each consecutive year the applicant has applied for the lottery since 1998 without being selected and each bonus point gives the applicant an additional chance in the drawing.

Bonus points are earned at the rate of one per year for years one to five, two per year for years six to 10, three per year for years 11 to 15 and 10 per year for years 16 and beyond.

Starting in 2011, applicants can skip a year and not lose their bonus points. So if you applied in 2011 but not in 2012, you still have your points if you apply in 2013.

GOOD LUCK and Safe Hunting!

Best wishes,
Your Friends at the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife

Apply HERE!

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Maine Needs a Better System to Share Game Harvest Data

*Scroll Down for an Update*

*Editor’s Note* Below is a copy of a document that I just emailed to Maine’s Governor Paul LePage and Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife commissioner, Chandler Woodcock. It is no secret that I and many other hunters are displeased that we should have to wait 3 or 4 months after the close of deer, bear, moose seasons to get any information on harvest numbers – and how about a turkey harvest? Most all other states provide rapid, and in some cases, real time harvest data. I took the time, with some help from some of my friends, to craft a plan that I think will work, if nothing more than providing a starting point.

We live in an ever-changing world of technology and it is a reasonable request to have more timely access to this data. If you agree, let Mr. LePage and Mr. Woodcock know. I would like your support.

A Plan to Create More Timely Game Harvest Numbers and Data

It is my sincere belief that hunters want and would appreciate a more timely report on the deer/bear/turkey/moose harvest numbers during and immediately after the season has closed. In the last several years, deer harvest reports are not made available to anyone until at least March and sometimes April; bear and moose harvest information takes longer than that.

For comparison, I include a small sampling of how other states do their registering/tagging. Please not that all of these states listed are able to provide near real time harvest numbers at any point during the deer hunting season.

Ohio – mandatory reporting, done either by telephone, online or by visiting a licensing agent. I believe this year is the first year that Ohio has fully eliminated a visit to a tagging station.
Nebraska – Uses a combination of tagging stations and telephone registering.
Kentucky – Uses a “Telecheck” harvest reporting system. Fully automated and provides real time information.
Wisconsin – Uses a system very similar to Maine’s current system but still can provide harvest data within 2 days.
Iowa – Mandatory reporting by either online, telephone or at licensing agent.
*Note – In those states that that still use tagging stations, it is my understanding that the fish and game departments require the tagging agents to submit harvest data daily or weekly.

Below I have suggestions on how Maine might be able to accomplish faster harvest information and at the same time collect better data.

Please understand that I’m not suggesting an end to the gathering of important data used for deer management. As a matter of fact, I’m offering ways of collecting more and better data which can only help the process and provide for a better product, and this system will free up more staff time in order that more time and personnel can be utilized counting deer, checking deer yards and implementing predator control when circumstances demand it.

We live in a rapidly advancing age of technology and therefore the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (MDIFW) should take advantage of that, while at the same time putting some of the onus onto the sportsmen, to more positively participate in the process. This will accomplish several things, the crux of which will be a tremendous public relations benefit to MDIFW and a greater sense of ownership for the sportsmen. An achievement such as this can be a great benefit to all parties concerned.

Here are my suggestions: (Please understand also that automated telephone reporting systems as well as computer data collecting software is readily available at a low price or even perhaps free is some shopping around was done.)

Mandatory Reporting – All licensed hunters will be required to report their game take along with hunting activity and all other data desired by MDIFW. This reporting can be done Online or by telephone. Any game taken, i.e. deer, bear, turkey, moose (all currently tagged game) can be reported online or by telephone within 12 hours (or 24hrs). The reporting systems will be automated and designed to collect and compile the data provided. Vital information can be collected and processed electronically at the time of reporting. This immediate reporting will enable MDIFW to have up to date, almost real time harvest numbers to report to sportsmen and the public. At the end of the season, all licensed sportsmen will be required, within one week, to report online or by telephone, and fill out a survey. This must be done by all sportsmen whether they are successful or not. Better information can be collected that will vastly improve on the ability of wildlife managers to set seasons and bag limits, as well as better understand what is taking place in the field. This information can be collected about all aspects of hunting to gain a better and more accurate understanding of how many, how often and how many hours hunters go afield and what game they are seeking and taking.

Setting up Check Points – MDIFW gathers vital biological data at some tagging stations. I believe the same information can be collected by strategically placing check stations where hunters will be required to stop for data collection. This is done very successfully in other states; states that also have mandatory reporting.

Data Collection with Commercial Meat Processing Plants – MDIFW should continue to collect biological data from meat processing facilities.

Dealing with Non Reporters – Several states do not use a tagging system as Maine does. Instead they implement a mandatory reporting system (either required by the hunter or the tagging agent), and with pretty good success, I might add. I’ve taken the time to include only five states that do that now. See above. I’ve already pointed out the positives that can come from reporting. Mandatory or not, we will still run into a certain percentage of sportsmen who will not report, particularly those not successful in taking game or poachers who will fail to obey any laws; as the events that took place recently in Turner. There are ways to deal with this. While not wanting to appear as some heavy handed authoritative figure, full implementation of this plan is necessary for the greatest success. A suggestion might be that for those failing to complete a hunter survey, will be ineligible to buy a license the following year.

*Update – December 5, 2012 12:50* It took approximately 11 minutes to receive an email response from Commission Woodcock:

Tom,

I sincerely appreciate your efforts with this important discussion. We at IF+W, and many other sportsmen and women, have similar observations. Here at the department, have had several discussion about electronic tagging possibilities as well as reporting requirements. We are currently investigating electronic options.
I share your desire to have immediacy. It also appears that we share similar concerns.
We continue to examine the issue and I believe that there will be changes forthcoming reasonably soon. The discussion has complexities as you are well aware and we certainly need biological data.
Again, thanks. And safe travels.

Chan Woodcock

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1,500-Pound Bull Moose Taken in Hunt

Was this giant bull moose taken in Northern Maine, Millinockett, Greenville? Nah, Bob Condon of Soldotna, Alaska bagged this big guy. Read the whole story here.

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Maine’s Moose Hunt is On

This dead bull moose in the back of a pick-up truck was spotted and photographed in Greenville, Maine.


Photo by Tom Carter

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