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Monday, June 30, 2014

Hunter worried about moose population

Letter to the Editor

As a longtime hunter I’m very discouraged with the predicament our moose seem to be in. According to New Hampshire Fish and Game moose biologist Kris Rines, our moose population has dwindled to just over half of what it was just over a decade ago. That is down from about 7,500 moose in 2000, to close to 4,000 moose today.

Just a week ago the Fish and Game Department held its annual moose hunting permit lottery. This event reflected the decline in moose numbers across the state. Only 124 permits were awarded for this fall’s hunt, less than half of the number of permits awarded just a year ago. More dramatic is the decline in permits from just seven years ago, when 675 permits were issued. That’s a whopping 80 percent-plus reduction. ...

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As a longtime hunter I’m very discouraged with the predicament our moose seem to be in. According to New Hampshire Fish and Game moose biologist Kris Rines, our moose population has dwindled to just over half of what it was just over a decade ago. That is down from about 7,500 moose in 2000, to close to 4,000 moose today.

Just a week ago the Fish and Game Department held its annual moose hunting permit lottery. This event reflected the decline in moose numbers across the state. Only 124 permits were awarded for this fall’s hunt, less than half of the number of permits awarded just a year ago. More dramatic is the decline in permits from just seven years ago, when 675 permits were issued. That’s a whopping 80 percent-plus reduction.

Here in southeast New Hampshire they only issued one permit for Wildlife Management Unit M, along the southern border from Nashua to the coast. Seven years ago the local moose population justified issuing nine permits. That’s a 90 percent reduction. Rines recently said if we continue to have these shorter winters, moose parasites will continue to increase, and we may lose moose from our landscape altogether. Imagine losing such an iconic animal – which was common across our landscape just a decade ago – because of climate change?

Just this past winter, Fish and Game began an investigation of moose mortality by radio collaring about 40 moose in January. Thanks to the warmer than usual winter in 2013, tick numbers were way up this winter. Sadly by the end of April, 22 of the calves that were collared had died. That was a 64 percent mortality. Numbers like that really worry me.

We must act to curb the warming of our winters if we are to have any moose left in this state. Thankfully our state is a part of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative. Yes we have cut our carbon production regionally by about 30 percent below 2005 levels. But we need a national effort to help our moose. Fortunately the president announced such a plan a year ago called The Climate Action Plan. Hunters like me know it is time to take action to support our wildlife. I hope you do too.

Dale Carruth

Nashua