May 26, 2018
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From the BDN Archive: Maine’s first Moose lottery

By BUD LEAVITT, Special to the BDN

Originally printed on July 15, 1980, the day of the original modern moose hunt permit lottery. Edited for this printing.

Today’s Moose Tuesday and the night of Maine’s first public drawing to determine who will legally hunt the state’s largest game animal, the initial foot-mark on a trail leading to the first Maine moose hunt in 45 years.

Exactly 32,269 people have paid a preliminary $5 fee to participate in the drawing, hoping to get their names pulled from a revolving receptacle and be on the road toward participating in the five-day hunt, Sept. 22 through 27.

The drawing will attract heavy media attention and be telecast starting at 7:30 p.m. on the Maine Public Broadcasting Network.

Few subjects involving Maine’s out-of-doors brews more conversation and controversy than the idea of a legal moose hunt. For example, within the past fortnight a petition was forwarded to [DIFW] Commissioner Glenn H. Manuel from 317 signers asking that certain sections in the Greenville-Rockwood-Kokadjo country be declared off-limits to moose hunting.

Others dislike the idea because of anti-hunting feelings.

LET THEM alone. Let Nature take its course. That is the cry frequently leveled by various groups and individuals.

The statement is made sometimes by anti-hunters who think hunting should be banned as an anachronistic practice no longer appropriate in modern society.

Current anti-hunting action in Maine is somewhat complex, ranging from simple ignorance of wildlife and environmental factors affecting it, to a seemingly deliberate disregard whose sole trust is against hunting with no additional supportive action that can be construed as pro-wildlife.

Wildlife scientists, after nearly 14 years of study and research, place the state’s moose population at approximately 20,000 animals.

About one-third of the state’s moose range will be opened to hunting in the Sept. 22-27 hunting period. Open will be the area north of the Canadian-Pacific Railroad main line tracks running from Vanceboro west, through Danforth, Mattawamkeag, Brownville Junction, Greenville, Jackman to the Maine-Quebec International Boundary.

WHEN the bottom line turns up, the 700 names plucked from the 32,269 tonight will have made a sizeable cash investment.

Once a reader’s name has been drawn, he or she must by law purchase a current 1980 hunting license, a $9.50 tab added to the $5 application. Sometime before Sept. 1, an additional fee of $10 must be made to acquire the moose permit. Up to this point, the tab has climbed to $24.50 and if one is successful in killing a moose, there’s the matter of another $10 registration fee making the total outlay $34.50.

The last moose hunt occurred in 1935. Knox, Waldo and Lincoln counties, a three-day hunt that saw some 1,191 hunters take down 37 bulls. This one was a bulls-only hunt; the one to be held Sept. 22-27, 1980, one moose of either sex, bull or cow.

Tonight’s public drawing at the Bangor Civic Center has all the earmarks of being a “media event,” though in all the planning, which goes back nearly one year, the coverage and telecast plans never have been tooled as a media production.

Months ago, recognizing the huge interest for, and against the proposed 1980 moose hunt, I seized on the idea of filming the drawing and making it a Woods ‘n’ Waters PBS television program.

This would have been nothing more than a 28½-minute showing, a token effort considering 700 names must be drawn from the receptacle holding the applications. All the same, even if 28½ minutes, I believed, a telecast would prove that this was an honest-to-goodness endeavor and in some small fashion blunt oft-heard charges of a “crooked drawing,” “strictly for the Augusta politicians,” or, “Manuel’ll give the permits to his friends.”

I approached Commissioner Manuel and told him what I had in mind with respect to preparing a Woods ‘n’ Waters program.

“Great,” responded Manuel, “but why not go all the way and televise the entire drawing? If we could put the drawing into every Maine home, I feel the affair would convince citizens that this is a one-hundred percent fair effort.”

The next move was a conference with Gen. Mgr. Ed Winchester and his staff at the Maine Public Broadcasting Network.

Lawyers checked the fine print to ascertain that the public drawing was in the public interest. That ruling was affirmative.

So rather than a 28½-minute Woods ‘n’ Waters program, the decision was made to televise the entire drawing. The telecast will be done exactly as any network would present a hockey, football or tennis match. Other than interviews with Manuel, Chief Warden Alanson B. Noble, Outdoor Editor Gene Letourneau, Dr. Lowell Barnes, Jim McBrearity, Francis Dunn, et. Al., the entire production will take on the air of a straight-as-a-string news production.

The hard news from the public grab-bag will be the name of the first individual franchised to purchase a Maine license and hunt moose in 45 years.

After the initial name has been drawn and identified, it’ll simply be a matter of reaching and pulling 699 others, identifying the individual and the name of the party designated to participate in the fall chase as a “permittee.”

What you have really is a three-hour or more drawing of 700 applicants from an outpouring of 32,269 Maine residents and their partners who hope to take part in the hunt.

Otherwise, if you’re expecting something more exciting than a three-hour beano game, you’re on the wrong channel.

Your second choice will be the Republican Convention from Joe Louis Arena in striking city, Detroit.

TONIGHT’S do at the Bangor Civic Center, if you’re one who feels it is more fun being there than sitting in your living room theater, amounts to an open invitation to the public.

Since admission is free, it’s a buy not usually offered at the municipal architecture nor on the Bass Park grounds.

Have feedback? Want to know more? Send us ideas for follow-up stories.

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