Vermont has reduced the number of moose hunting permits by nearly 85 percent.
The Vermont Fish and Wildlife Board voted to reduce the number of moose hunting permits the state will make available this year to 13. That's a drastic reduction from last year's 80 permits.
The board also voted to limit the annual bull moose hunt to the Northeast Kingdom area of the state.
Vermont's moose project leader, biologist Cedric Alexander, said the reasons for the drop in permits include declining moose population numbers and the prevalence of ticks.
"We are limiting the hunt to the portion of the state where the moose population is stabilizing, and we believe it is in the best interest of moose to keep their density at its current level of one moose per square mile," he said. "By maintaining moose at this level, research indicates winter ticks will have fewer hosts to feed on."
The Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department website indicates that the state's current moose population is estimated to be at around 2,200 animals, down from around 5,000 in the early 2000s.
The FWD checks for ticks on moose that hunters register. They've found that winter ticks may number in the tens of thousands on a single moose. A tick-infested moose can become weak and stressed, often rubbing against trees in an attempt to remove the parasites. In the process, the animals also tend to rub off their fur, making them even more vulnerable to the cold.
The moose population appears to be healthiest at medium densities. At such levels, they have lower rates of disease transmission and lower tick counts.
Allocation of permits
Five of the 13 available permits will go to Vermont military veterans. Up to three permits will be available for special opportunity recipients with life-threatening illnesses. The remaining five permits will be auctioned off to the general public.
A FWD statement also indicated that no regular public lottery will be held this year. Bonus points earned from previous years will be "frozen" for 2018, but could be used when moose hunting restrictions are lifted in the future.
The special priority drawing for Vermont military veterans for the autumn 2018 season will take place August 1. The deadline to apply is July 6.
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