The annual moose hunt is one among Maine’s most revered sporting traditions. Past that, the truth that Maine has sufficient huge wilderness to assist moose, its state animal, is a supply of delight amongst residents. However harvest numbers have been slowly shrinking over the few many years, and in 2022, the hunter success fee reached a document low.
Hunters stuffed simply 62 % of moose tags this season, knowledge from the Maine Division of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife exhibits. When you embody a statistical outlier from the adaptive unit hunt, the place state biologists are conducting experiments on how moose and ticks work together, the success fee was even decrease, simply 58 %. (The general success fee from the adaptive hunt unit was 26 %.)
Maine Moose Hunts Previous
These numbers fall effectively in need of the 18-year common 73.5-percent success fee. Apparently, there have been extra permits issued this yr than in recent times. Together with the adaptive administration hunt, 4,050 permits had been out there for the 2022 season. The final time greater than 4,000 permits had been issued was in 2013, when the state distributed 4,110 of them. However that very same yr, hunters had a 72-percent success fee and harvested 2,978 moose. This yr, hunters harvested 644 fewer moose than they did in 2013, and nearly 300 fewer than in 2021.
Within the years that adopted the 2013 season, harvest numbers took a critical dip. They bottomed out in 2017 when simply 1,518 tags had been stuffed. However out there permits had been additionally decrease than regular, so success charges had been fairly common round that point. You possibly can see how harvest success has fluctuated within the graph beneath.
So what does this all imply? Within the grand scheme of issues, the shifting numbers aren’t as indicative of the general state moose inhabitants as they may appear. Harvest success is impacted by modifications in climate, season dates, and searching guidelines, not simply the general variety of moose on the panorama. DIF&W began managing the moose inhabitants in 1999 and so they’ve “modified so many issues for the reason that starting of the moose hunt that it’s probably not comparable over time,” moose biologist Lee Kantar instructed the Bangor Each day Information.
Tick-ing Time Bomb
The DIF&W says that moose populations are secure of their core vary for now. However biologists are more and more involved in regards to the toll winter ticks tackle cow reproductive success and calf survival. As local weather change pushes the primary onerous snow later and later into the yr, ticks and different parasites don’t die off within the chilly months once they used to. As a substitute, they assault moose within the late summer time and early fall, particularly as moose develop into extra cellular throughout the rut. The ticks experience out the winter on their hosts and detach in early spring, at which level females can lay as much as 4,000 eggs and the cycle begins another time. (Winter ticks are completely different than canine ticks and deer ticks.)
Winter ticks killed 60 of the 70 collared calves that biologists had been monitoring in Piscataquis and Somerset counties in 2021. The moose can carry anyplace from 40,000 to 90,000 ticks at a time, DIF&W instructed Maine Public Radio. The state company’s resolution? Decrease the moose inhabitants density to present ticks fewer hosts to thrive on. That’s the place the adaptive administration hunt unit experiment comes into play.
Began in 2019 and anticipated to run by way of 2025, biologists are growing the variety of permits in a single a part of the unit and distributing a traditional variety of permits within the different, in an try to see if a decreased inhabitants density would make a distinction in how ticks prevail. This science may assist how northern Vermont and New Hampshire deal with their winter tick points as effectively.
“It’s difficult, however the nature of our adaptive hunt is we’ve room to make some modifications if we have to and we’ll take a look at all that stuff,” Kantar instructed the Bangor Each day Information. “We have to work out how we’re going to proceed to make our manner by way of this.”