Nonresident Moose Hunters are Maine's Cash Cows!

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While many resident sportsmen resent the fact that nonresidents get moose permits while most Maine applicants are lottery losers, the fact is that we are lucky – whether or not we win a moose hunting permit – because the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife gets a huge amount of money from those nonresident applicants.

DIF&W raised $1,160,446.50 from this year’s moose lottery. $633,400.80 of that came from nonresidents, who got just 363 permits. Residents actually spent less this year in the lottery, $527,045.70, while receiving 3,362 permits.

Look at it this way. DIF&W got $1,745 in lottery revenue for each nonresident permit, and $157 for each resident permit.

Unfortunately for the department, significant changes in the moose lottery, enacted by the legislature and applied this year, did not come close to restoring the agency’s lottery revenue to what it was just 4 years ago. In 2008, DIF&W raised $1,628,470 from the moose lottery.

The number of permits issued by DIF&W dipped slightly this year, from 3862 to 3725. That’s hard to understand, given the agency’s announcement earlier this year that the moose population is now 75,000. A sustainable harvest at that population of animals would allow up to 14,000 moose to be killed each year.

Last February in this blog, I wrote a history of Maine’s moose hunt and the ongoing controversies over population estimates, permits, and management. You can read that column at the end of the archives for this outdoor news blog.

Maximizing the number of moose permits is very important for two reasons:

The disastrous deer situation has Maine’s outdoor industry scrambling to replace nonresident deer hunters. They’re looking at every possibility from fishing to bear, upland birds, and moose hunting. While moose hunters will never replace deer hunters in numbers, an increase in moose hunters will help.

Declines in all hunting categories including turkeys, deer, ducks, and upland birds, jeopardizes Maine’s hunting heritage and threatens our outdoor industry that is particularly critical to the rural Maine economy.

When I worked on the 1983 campaign to defeat a ballot measure that would have banned moose hunting in Maine – just two years after we’d gotten the hunt started – none of us anticipated what the moose hunt would become – or how large the moose herd would grow. Or, for that matter, how complicated the moose lottery would become.

The entire moose hunt and permit allocation system is due for a serious overhaul – and (brace yourself) – that should include more permits for nonresidents, to help our ailing outdoor economy and fish and wildlife department.

For some good news about this year’s moose lottery, check out this column just posted in my Bangor Daily News blog.

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