Hunters Help Manage Vermont Moose Population

03 November 2022

With high moose numbers in northeastern Vermont contributing to the abundance and negative impact of winter ticks, the Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department is pleased to report on the results of a successful, regulated 2022 moose hunting season.

“Moose are relatively abundant in Vermont’s northeastern Wildlife Management Unit—WMU E,” says Nick Fortin, the department’s moose biologist.  “This high density of moose contributes to winter tick numbers that can negatively impact moose health and survival.  A goal of this year’s hunt was to improve the overall health of WMU E’s moose population by reducing its density.”

The department issued 100 moose hunting permits this year, resulting in 51 moose harvested between the October 1-7 archery season and October 15-20 regular season.

Of the 100 permits available, 94 were issued by lottery, to which over 5,500 hunters applied.  The department reserves the first five lottery permits for Vermont military veterans.  Three non-lottery permits are reserved for persons with life-threatening illnesses, and three more are auctioned as a fundraiser for conservation.

Moose management goals were informed by a multi-year study led by department biologists and University of Vermont researchers.  Researchers fitted 126 moose with GPS collars to understand the interplay between winter ticks, moose density and overall population health in WMU E.

The study showed that chronic high winter tick loads have caused the health of moose in northeastern Vermont to be very poor.  Survival of adult moose remained relatively good, but birth rates were very low, and less than half of the calves in the study survived their first winter.

“This year’s hunt in WMU E was an important step towards achieving a healthy, sustainable moose population,” said Fortin.

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The mission of the Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department is the conservation of all species of fish, wildlife, and plants and their habitats for the people of Vermont.