The Vermont Fish and Wildlife Board voted on April 5 to have 80 either-sex moose hunting permits and 100 antlerless moose hunting permits available this year for a hunt limited to Vermont’s Wildlife Management Unit (WMU) E in the northeastern corner of the state. The science-based hunt will result in an estimated harvest of about 100 moose, or 10 percent of the more than 1,000 moose currently estimated to live in WMU E.
Permit applications are now available on the Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department’s website.
The goal of the department’s 2023 moose harvest recommendation is to improve the health of moose in WMU-E by reducing the number of moose and thereby reducing the abundance and impact of winter ticks.
“Moose are abundant in WMU E with significantly higher population density than in any other part of the state,” said Nick Fortin, Vermont Fish and Wildlife’s moose project leader. “Moose are the primary host for winter ticks, and higher moose densities support high numbers of winter ticks which negatively impact moose health and survival.”
The Fish and Wildlife Department partnered with University of Vermont researchers to conduct a study of moose health and survival in WMU E. The results of this study, in which 126 moose (36 cows, 90 calves) were fitted with GPS tracking collars, showed that chronic high winter tick loads caused the health of moose in that part of the state to be very poor. Survival of adult moose remained relatively good, but birth rates were very low and less than half of the calves survived their first winter.
“Research has shown that lower moose densities support relatively few winter ticks that do not impact moose populations,” said Fortin. “Reducing moose density decreases the number of available hosts which in turn decreases the number of winter ticks on the landscape.”
“Given the poor health of the moose population in that area and a clearly identified cause, we need to take action to address this issue.” added Fortin. “These permits will help address winter tick impacts on moose in WMU-E by reducing the density of moose on the landscape. Without intervention to reduce the moose population in WMU-E, high winter tick loads will continue to impact the health of moose in that region for many years.”
Lottery applications for moose permits are $10 for residents and $25 for nonresidents. The deadline to apply is June 21. Lottery winners need to purchase resident moose permits for $100 and nonresident moose permits for $350. Lottery winners are also required to hold a current year Vermont hunting or combination hunting and fishing license.
Hunters who held a permit within the past five years are not eligible to apply for a permit or to buy a bonus point. Applicants must continue to annually submit a moose permit application if they wish to retain their past bonus permits and accumulate subsequent bonus points.
Five permits will be available to Vermont military veterans, three permits will be available for “Special Opportunity” recipients with life-threatening illnesses, and three permits will be auctioned in accordance with regulations.