AUGUSTA – Due to a peak year for winter ticks and their impact on the moose population this winter, the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife is reducing the number of moose permits available to hunters this fall.
Earlier today, The IFW’s advisory council accepted the department’s recommendation to reduce the number of moose permits available for the 2014 season. This fall, the department will issue 3,095 permits statewide, down from the 4,110 that were available last year.
“Based upon the research of our biologists, I feel it is prudent to decrease the number of female moose permits available,” said IFW Commissioner Chandler Woodcock. “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 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 increase substantially.
Each year, IFW biologists sample moose for winter tick densities at moose registration stations during the moose hunt. This past fall, biologists noted one of the highest tick counts in the past 10 years.
In making the recommendation to reduce permits, IFW biologists also used data from the radio collar moose study that is ongoing. Early data from the study shows that there was about a 30 percent mortality rate for adult females, which is above the average 10 percent winter mortality rate for female moose.
IFW wildlife biologists have also documented a number of moose winter kills throughout the state. Many of the moose carcasses are engorged with winter ticks, and some are practically bare of hair as they have tried to rub the ticks off.
“Maine has had winter tick for decades, and Maine’s moose population has encountered peak tick years before, as they happen periodically,” said IFW moose biologist Lee Kantar. “Even with the increase in ticks this year, by decreasing the number of antlerless permits available, we can continue to meet our population objectives for moose.”