February 6, 2023

To Err Is Human. To Forget About 60 Moose Hunting Permits Is Tragic!

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Maybe this is the ammunition Rep. Moody of Manchester, Maine needs to move the moose hunting permit selection process from the hands of the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife and into those of the Maine State Lottery. During the winter, Moody sent a bill to the Maine Legislature that would do that. The bill was referred to committee where it was filed as a “dead” bill. In what appears to be a errant mistake of forgetting to enter certain criteria into the computer that makes the selections for moose permits, 60 did not get drawn.

A member of the general public who can count (they must not be from Florida), began reviewing the list of winners in the recent moose lottery done last Wednesday in a drawing held at the clubhouse of Scarborough Downs. When this person began adding up the total number of permits issued, they came up with 2,765, 60 permits shy of the promised 2,825.

That’s when the MDIFW officials went to the sidelines and stuck their heads under the tarp to review the instant replay. Sure enough, they were 60 permits short.

It was then discovered that no antlered moose permits for the September hunt in WMD 19 (much of northern Washington County) had been selected. Evidently the data to make those selections was never entered into the computer that does the random drawings. (It is not believed at this time that President Bush had anything to do with this – and yes, this is a joke).

Normal procedure calls for the naming of 60 alternates using the same criteria in the selection of those who receive moose permits. These 60 alternates, listed in the order in which they would be eligible, are selected if someone who is chosen as a permittee refuses their license. Officials claim that on average anywhere from 40-60 applicants turn down their permits. Those permits are then given to the alternates.

Officials met at mid-field to determine what the proper ruling for the foul would be and decided that they would name the 60 alternates as the recipients of the 60 antlered moose permits for WMD 19 (perhaps not the zone they applied for but a permit nonetheless). 60 new alternates have already been named to replace those.

I seldom am critical of the Maine DIFW or any other state wildlife department because I believe that for the most part, all these agencies do a fine job and often work under extreme pressure from many souces. This seemingly innocent mistake is bigger than what appears on the surface.

First off, it seems to me that the very first step in a checks and balance agenda would be to have anyone at the department, perhaps even the janitor, add up the total number of permits selected just to make sure the numbers match. I learned this mind boggling technique in my freshman year of high school in business math.

This was not done and a member of the general public had to notify the officials at MDIFW that they had made a mistake. This is bad – bad because the MDIFW just reduced the confidence level that many of us have in them, myself included. I have to be honest in saying that after reading about this incident, I did ask myself about what other mistakes like this have been made in the past.

I have no information that would suggest that any mistakes have been made in the past but each year there is a certain amount of complaining that occurs from those who did not draw a moose permit and especially from those who have applied for several years in a row.

There has never been any politics or favoritism played that anyone has ever been able to find out with the moose permit selection process, but this booboo sure will give the complainers more fodder to chew on.

Mistakes happen and as I said in my title, to err is human. What’s wrong with this picture is the Department had no checks and balances in place, even something as simple as to count how many permits got selected. This should have been going on during the selection show. It could have been programmed into the selection process for that matter. An announcement could have been made -“and the final permit…. number 2,765, goes to…….no, wait. That’s not right”.

The damage has been done. Those who didn’t draw a permit will have more ammunition to argue about the faults of the system. Those who don’t like how the department is run can point another finger and officials will be scrambling around hoping to mend a badly broken fence.

A complete list of those selected for moose permits, including the 60 afterthoughts, can be viewed here.

Tom Remington