Twenty four of the 25 disabled veterans who got moose hunting permits for the special Aroostook County moose hunt, held in August, got their moose. Last year 50 permits were issued and 31 hunters were successful in bagging a moose.
Mark Latti, Outreach and Communications staffer for the Fisheries and Wildlife Department, provided this information in response to my questions.
Guides and landowners were cut out of the hunt this year by a new rule approved by DIF&W Commissioner Chandler Woodcock and the Fish and Wildlife Advisory Council.
Maine’s Department of Defense, Veterans Affairs and Emergency Management’s Bureau of Veterans Services assisted DIF&W in qualifying disabled veterans for the hunt.
The purpose of the controlled moose hunt in Aroostook County is to reduce moose numbers in specific areas where they are causing crop damage, mostly to asparagus, and to limit moose-motor vehicle collisions in that area. Beginning in 2009, the agency conducted this hunt in 9 towns in eastern Aroostook County.
In 2009, 100 permits were issued – 45 to guides and 55 to landowners. The guides were allowed to sell the permits to clients. In 2010, DIF&W issued 44 permits to guides, 65 permits to landowners, and 6 permits to disabled veterans. In 2011, 30 permits went to guides, 55 to landowners, and 15 to disabled veterans.
In 2012 permits were reduced to 50. A total of 81, 72, 60, and 32 moose were harvested in 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012 respectively.
According to DIF&W, in a statement issued earlier in the year, “The changes recommended by the working group will ensure the best utilization of the permits. The disabled veterans have been the most successful group participating in the controlled moose hunt. Peter Ogden of the Maine Department of Defense, Veterans and Emergency Management, Bureau of Veterans Services will work with IFW and select all 25 disabled veterans. Due to the small number of hunters, the training component will still be part of the program.”
There was no explanation for the sharp reduction in permits or the reasons that guides and landowners were cut out of the hunt.
This begs the question: Is this hunt still being conducted to reduce crop damage and moose-motor vehicle collisions? Is a harvest of 25 or less moose really sufficient to achieve those goals?