MAINE - At their December 4 meeting held in Augusta, the Inland Fisheries and Wildlife Advisory Council approved a proposal that increased the number of moose permits to 2,895 for the 2004 season, an increase of 310 from the past season.
The increase in permits will be spread through three wildlife Management Districts (WMDs 3, 6, 11) in southern and Eastern Aroostook County. Permits in these WMDs will also be split more evenly between the two weeks of the moose season. All other wildlife Management Districts will remain the same. For more details, please visit www.mefishwildlife.com.
The change in permits comes as a result of a proposal by Commissioner of the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife Roland D. Martin, which was spurred by a petition signed by over 2,700 people asking the department to lower the moose population in order to make roads in that section of Aroostook County safer.
"After much input by people in these areas, we felt that increasing the number of permits in order attain a one-third reduction in the population was appropriate," said Martin.
The initial proposal called for a 550-permit increase in these three WMDs, in order to reduce the moose population by a third. However, the number was scaled back to 310 after public comment period, a public hearing, and input from council members. The resulting compromise should provide a sufficient reduction in the moose population to provide relief in this high moose-vehicle collision corridor, and still allow for recreational interests.
In 1999, the department convened a public working group which outlined the management goals and objectives for moose for the period of 2000-2015. This group identified four important management considerations for moose: hunting opportunity, viewing opportunity, safety, and habitat impacts. As a result, each of the 29 Wildlife Management Districts (WMDs) were assigned to three moose management areas that included a Road Safety Management Area, a Compromise Management Area and a Recreational Management Area. In the Recreation Area, hunting and viewing opportunities are the most important goals. In the Compromise Area, the department balances both recreational goals and safety goals. In the Road Safety Management Area, the department seeks solely to reduce the number of moose vehicles collisions.
The three districts that are being increased are in the Compromise Area, where to meet the goals set, the moose population needs to be reduced by one-third. Efforts are still ongoing with the Department of Transportation to see if road improvements and/or better signage may help reduce moose vehicle collisions.
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