Good news! Only half of our moose calves died this winter

State moose biologist Lee Kantar says that only half of the moose calves he studied this past winter died, something that is apparently considered to be good news.

Associated Press reporter Patrick Whittle interviewed Lee and published a news story about this in mid-May. I have asked DIF&W for a report on the most recent moose research, but have not yet received anything. When I do I will tell you all about it.

For now, I’m limited to Whittle’s story. “Survival of calves is much improved this year and the adult mortality is very low,” Lee told him. He still thinks we’ve got between 60,000 and 70,000 moose, although many sportsmen and women who spend lots of time in the woods disagree. Just yesterday I had a well-known outdoorsman express great distress that he is not seeing any moose in an area that was once teeming with them.

Whittle reported that a New Hampshire moose biologist said that less calves died this winter because many ticks died in last fall’s drought, unable to access moisture.

I’ve been told that eventually Maine’s moose population will get low enough that ticks won’t be a big problem. That’s not good enough for me. I think we should be aggressively looking for ways to save our moose. That is not currently part of Lee’s research, and there is no plan at DIF&W to do this.

I’m also wondering what happened to the moose in my town of Mount Vernon. We used to have a bunch of them, including on my woodlot, and I would see them often. I haven’t seen one in 6 or 7 years. Some folks think ticks killed them, but if low density of moose means less deaths by ticks, that couldn’t have been the problem in Mount Vernon. I can tell you that the habitat has not changed.

If and when I get the latest research from Lee, I’ll let you know.

George Smith

About George Smith

George stepped down at the end of 2010 after 18 years as the executive director of the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine to write full time. He writes a weekly editorial page column in the Kennebec Journal and Waterville Morning Sentinel, a weekly travel column in those same newspapers (with his wife Linda), monthly columns in The Maine Sportsman magazine, two outdoor news blogs (one on his website,, and one on the website of the Bangor Daily News), and special columns for many publications and newsletters. Islandport Press published a book of George's favorite columns, "A Life Lived Outdoors" in 2014. In 2014, George also won a Maine Press Association award for writing the state's bet sports blog. In 2016, Down East Books published George's book, Maine Sporting Camps, and Islandport Press published George and his wife Linda's travel book, Take It From ME, about their favorite Maine inns and restaurants.