CONCORD — For nine exciting days, this Saturday through Oct. 29, lucky moose permit holders and their hunting partners will have the experience of a lifetime taking part in New Hampshire’s annual moose hunt.
A total of 51 permit holders were drawn in this year’s lottery, randomly selected by computer from a pool of more than 6,800 applicants. In addition, one hunter will have the chance to hunt moose as the highest bidder in an annual auction that benefits the Wildlife Heritage Foundation of New Hampshire, and one permit was granted to a youth with a serious medical condition through the Hunt of a Lifetime program. In 20
Locals winning permits were: Angela Boutin of Groveton; Patrick LaFlamme of Whitefield; and Carleton Landry of Milan.
There were 110 people chosen as alternates, including Coos County’s Lindsay Cote of Lancaster; Shawn Mayers of Gorham; Norman McLaughlin of Lancaster; Matt Shannon of Groveton; and Christopher Walters of Dummer.
Each hunter with a moose permit will be assigned to hunt in one of 19 wildlife management units throughout the state. This year no permits were issued in H2N, H2S, or K. Most permit holders have spent the past several weeks or months scouting out potential hunting spots in their assigned areas. After taking a moose, hunters must have the animals registered and inspected at one of five check stations around the state. There, wildlife biologists check each moose to collect valuable information about the overall health and productivity of the moose herd. Moose check stations draw many interested onlookers, a reminder of the importance of moose in New Hampshire, particularly in the North Country. You can find a list of moose check stations at www.huntnh.com/hunting/moose.html.
The moose hunt has been an annual event in New Hampshire for more than 20 years. The state's first modern-day moose hunt took place in 1988, with 75 permits issued in the North Country. At that time, New Hampshire was home to about 1,600 moose. In 1992, the number of permits rose to 190 and the following year to 317 permits. By 1994, the number had increased to 405 and topped out at a record 495 in 1995.
"This is the first time since the last legal hunt at the turn of the century that we're opening up the entire state for moose hunting," Paul Dest of Fish and Game said in 1994. "We're in a position now where our biologists feel the herd can easily sustain a statewide hunt."
Dest, the herd stood at 5,000 in 1994, Dest said, and "that figure is growing."
That was then. Now, according to the National Wildlife Foundation, "The New Hampshire moose population has plummeted by more than 40 percent in the last decade from over 7,500 moose to just 4,000 today.
According to foundation biologists, some of the decline is due to "increasing parasite loads influenced by shorter winters caused by climate change."
Hunters are reminded to avoid consuming moose liver and kidney. Studies conducted by Fish and Game and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service have revealed high levels of cadmium in some moose livers and kidneys sampled. As a result, officials from the Environmental Health Program at the state Department of Environmental Services recommend that no moose kidney be eaten, and preferably no liver. If individuals do choose to eat moose liver, it should be from moose no older than 1.5 years. If the moose is older than that, consumption should be limited to a maximum of two meals (assuming six ounces per meal) of moose liver per year. Biologists at moose check stations can determine the age of the animal for hunters. If you have questions about this issue, call David Gordon, DES Environmental Health Program, at (603) 271-4608.
You can visit a photo gallery of past successful Granite State moose hunters, and find out more about moose hunting in New Hampshire at huntnh.com/hunting/moose.html.