Moose by the numbers: Statistics behind the lottery

A cow and a calf moose walk along a roadway in Northern Penobscot County in this September 2013 file photo.
A cow and a calf moose walk along a roadway in Northern Penobscot County in this September 2013 file photo.
Posted June 15, 2014, at 9:13 a.m.

PRESQUE ISLE, Maine — Many Mainers have been waiting for years to earn the opportunity to go on a moose hunt of their own. And each year, several more entrants who have been entering the state-run lottery since its inception in 1980 succeed.

In 2012, a new “bonus point” system began awarding long-term entrants even more chances to win in the lottery. Instead of earning a single extra chance in the lottery for every year their name doesn’t get drawn, entrants earn one chance during their first five years, two chances for years 6-10, three chances for years 11-15 and 10 chances per year for every year in excess of 15.

The bonus point system has been in place since 1998, and all lottery participants who’ve entered each of those years entered this year’s lottery with 40 chances to win. According to a Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife fact sheet, the odds are steadily favoring those long-term entrants, and most will eventually go on hunts.

“The 2012 change to the calculation of bonus points will mean that ‘statistically’ longtime (every year since 1998) resident applicants should have won by 2020 if they are willing to accept a bull or antlerless permit in any district,” according to the DIF&W. “Longtime nonresident applicants should have won by 2036 if they are willing to accept a bull or antlerless permit in any district.”

Unstated but true: The more selective a hunter is about what kind of hunt they’ll accept, the less their chances of winning.

Here are some moose lottery statistics to consider:

— 35,132 residents applied for 2,795 available permits in this year’s lottery. Each resident had a 1-in-65 chance of winning.

— 13,327 nonresidents were vying for just 300 permits (10 percent of the total). Each nonresident had a 1-in-748 chance to earn a permit.

— Another 3,287 residents and 1,831 nonresidents paid the money required to enter the lottery solely to accrue bonus points and keep the required consecutive-year streaks intact. These entrants indicated that they did not wish to hunt this year.

— A resident applicant applying for the lottery for the first time (with no bonus points) had just a 1.5 percent chance of winning. A similar nonresident applicant’s chances were 0.1 percent.

— A resident who had accrued 10 purchased chances and bonus points had a 14.3 percent chance of winning in this year’s lottery. Nonresidents with 10 points had just a 1.3 percent chance.

— The maximum number of bonus points that any resident could have accrued as of this year’s lottery is 40. The DIF&W chart doesn’t cover that probability but does show that a prospective hunter with 41 chances in this year’s lottery would have had a 46.8 percent chance of earning a permit.

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