copyright the Chronicle April 5, 2017
by Brad Usatch
A steep decline in the moose population, both statewide and in the Northeast Kingdom, has led the Department of Fish and Wildlife (DFW) to recommend substantial cuts in the number of hunting permits offered this year.
The Fish and Wildlife Board (FWB) will vote Wednesday on a proposal to authorize a total of 80 permits, including 17 archery season permits, down over 51 percent from 165 permits authorized for the 2016 seasons. Also for the first time, the plan would mandate that only bull moose be hunted in all wildlife management units (WMUs).
Locally, the plan calls for nine regular season permits, and one archery season permit each, for both the D1 and D2 WMUs. WMUs do not align with town or county boundaries, but D1 covers most of Orleans County, south to Hyde Park and Hardwick. D2 overlies the northern two-thirds of Caledonia County, as well as almost all of Westmore, and smaller portions of Barton and other Orleans County towns.
The recommendation also authorizes a total of ten permits each (seven regular season and three archery season) for the E1 and E2 WMUs covering almost all of Essex County.
As recently as 2009, over 1,200 permits were offered on a yearly basis. But that was at a time when Fish and Wildlife was actively trying to bring down a moose population that moose biologist Cedric Alexander said was at an all-time high, perhaps dating back to the last ice age.
Mr. Alexander said the winter tick is the main culprit in the population plunge that took the statewide moose herd from a historic high estimated at close to 5,000 moose in 2005, to a November 2016 estimate of 1,750. Heavy tick infestations affect herd size in two ways, Mr. Alexander explained.
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