A Portland Press Herald news story by Deirdre Fleming recently reported that collisions with moose are down 55 percent in the last 10 years. And that led DIF&W this year to eliminate moose hunting permits in three coastal WMDs, where the agency was allowing some hunting to be done to reduce motor vehicle collisions. In Waldo, Lincoln, and Knox counties moose-vehicle collisions went from 16 in 2007 to just one last year.
Deirdre reported that moose-vehicle collisions dropped from 646 in 2007 to 289 last year, and fatalities went from 5 in 2007 to no more than one in each of the past four years.
I can remember fishing in the Rangeley region in the spring, when driving home I’d see as many as 40 moose alongside the road. These days the sighting of one moose is a cause for celebration.
DIF&W’s outstanding moose biologist Lee Kantar still maintains that we’ve got between 60,000 and 70,000 moose, a drop from 76,000 in 2013. I am skeptical, given the significantly fewer moose I spot in my travels – especially up at our camp on the western edge of Baxter Park, where moose used to be all over our yard. Not any more. And when I get into the places I could always find them in August, they are no longer there.
Kantar told Deirdre that the decline in moose-vehicle collisions means “There are probably less moose and there’s been a lot of active management by (the Maine Department of Transportation) with all kinds of things from reflective lighting to moose signs.” He also gave credit to drivers who are more aware of moose.
Most collisions today are in Aroostook County, where 45% of the state’s collisions occurred in 2016. But even there, crashes decreased from 247 in 2007 to 129 last year.