2012 Moose Hunt Outlook

By Kristine Rines, N.H. Fish and Game Moose Project Leader

The 2012 moose season will take place statewide October 20 – 28, 2012, with 275 permits being issued. Eighty of these permits will be for antlerless moose and the remaining 195 will be for moose of either sex.  (This allocation of permits is the level that will apply for both 2012 and 2013.) Permit levels are set to obtain the goals (expressed as moose seen per 100 hunter hours during the deer season) set by the public during our Big Game planning process in 2005.

The Connecticut Lakes Region is comprised of wildlife management units A1 and A2. Twenty-five either-sex and 20 antlerless-only permits were issued there. This is a reduction from the previous year’s permit issuance of 85 permits. The permit level has been reduced, because the moose density is now at goal and no longer needs to be reduced. This lower level of permits, with the almost equal number of both antlerless and either-sex permits, should hold the population at goal and help maintain the current sex ratio.  This region typically sees success rates between 80 and 90%. In 2011, the success rate was 82%. Last year, fifty-six percent of the take of all permits combined was adult bulls and, of that take, 49% were bulls older than 1.5. Moose hunters saw 0.16 moose per hour in 2011.

Moose in the Connecticut Lakes Region and adjoining regions to the south experienced moderate hair loss due to winter tick this past spring. Based on this information, it appears that tick-induced mortality was down compared to the spring of 2011, when tick mortalities were high. Therefore, there should be more yearling moose in the population this year, which should translate into increased hunting success. Overall success rates for 2012 should be at the upper limit of the normal range for these regions, given normal fall weather patterns.

The North Region (WMUs B, C2 and D1) issued 40 either-sex and 10 antlerless-only permits in 2012. This reduction in permits is designed to help offset last year's loss to winter tick and allow this population to grow towards goal. Last year 66% of all permits were composed of adult bulls, and 61% of these were older than 1.5 years.  Moose hunters saw 0.15 moose per hour in 2011. Last year, this region saw a success rate of 76% for all permits combined. This region typically sees success rates of 80-90%.

The White Mountain Region (units E1 – E3, D2, and F) offers hunters the opportunity for a true wilderness hunt. The bulk of this region lies within the White Mountain National Forest. Access is primarily limited to foot traffic. Hunters must be prepared to get their moose out without the use of motorized vehicles.  This year, 45 either-sex and 10 antlerless-only permits were issued.  Last year the success rate for all permits combined was 79%. Sixty-nine percent of the kill was adult bulls and of that, 61% were bulls older than 1.5 years. Moose seen per hour by moose hunters was high for this region, at 0.17. Success rate for this region is usually within the range of 45 – 75%. With the increase in antlerless-only permits, this year may see a success rate in the lower end of this range.

The Central Region is more heavily settled than those regions to the north. Moose densities and access continue to be good here, although moose densities have declined in the past six years. Land ownership here and in the two remaining southern regions is primarily by individual land-owners. Forty-five either-sex and 40 antlerless-only permits were issued in 2012. This reduction from 110 either-sex permits is designed to help this population grow and to reduce the bull kill, thereby increasing the bull portion in the standing population.  Last year, moose hunters saw 0.06 moose per hunting hour, which, while similar to past years, is the lowest it has been. The success rate was 63%, with hunters taking 73% adult bulls, of which 56% were bulls older than 1.5 years. This year’s success rate will probably be similar to last year's.

Hunters in the Southwest Region saw 0.05 moose per hour, which is similar to past years. The 65% success rate last year was quite high for this region, which usually has a success rate in the 40-50% range. Land ownership and development patterns are similar to those in the Central region, but moose densities are slightly lower than those in the Central region. In an attempt to grow this population, permits remain at 20 either-sex permits.  In 2011, 69% of the kill was composed of adult bulls (typical for the region), and 62% of these were older than 1.5 years.

The Southeast Region has very high human population densities and the lowest moose density. Access is limited, and hunters will need to do considerable scouting and contacting of property owners to have a successful hunt. Twenty either-sex permits were issued here in 2012.  Moose hunters saw 0.02 moose per hunter hour last year. The success rate last year was 25%, which is at the low end of the normal range for this region.  Forty percent of the kill was composed of adult bulls, and 20% of these were older than 1.5.

The following chart indicates recommended moose population goals and current levels by region:

REGION

RECOMMENDED GOAL

CURRENT LEVEL

Ct. Lakes

7.40

7.43

North

6.00

5.24

White Mtns

3.00

1.68

Central

1.50

1.09

South West

1.30

0.79

South East

0.50

0.42


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