The Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife decided Wednesday against an earlier proposal to add cow moose permits in Wildlife Management District 9. The finalized plan, which took into consideration local concern from the affected area near Greenville, also opted not to increase bull moose permits by 25.
WMD 9 sits on the east side of Moosehead Lake and stretches north as far as the Golden Road.
“WMD 9 has been bumped back to 75 bulls, which is the same level as last year,” said Judy Camuso, the DIF&W’s wildlife division director. “We eliminated the cow permit and put the number back to be consistent with what was offered there last year.”
In all, 2,740 permits will be allotted statewide this year. That’s an 11 percent decrease from the 3,095 permits that were allotted in 2014.
Based on data gathered by using aerial surveys, department biologists had proposed the addition of 50 cow permits for WMD 9. A subsequent online petition by residents who complained that they were not seeing as many moose as they had resulted in a public hearing in April in Greenville.
Camuso said DIF&W Commissioner Chandler Woodcock took those public comments into consideration before deciding to return the number of moose permits in that district to 2014 levels — without additional cow permits.
“The permit recommendation that was put forth by the biologists is one [factor in making a decision], and then there’s a social aspect as well,” Camuso said. “The commissioner felt that given the public concern over the ability to view moose in the Greenville area, that we would reduce the overall permits in that area [to the 2014 level].”
Camuso said she was confident with the data that biologists have gathered, which was relied on to determine that increasing permits in that district was biologically feasible. But she said that biologists ultimately serve both the animals and the state’s residents, and the people of Greenville made their position quite clear.
“It’s important for people to remember that our jobs as biologists is to manage at a level that’s what the public wants,” she said. “And that varies over time, and varies by district.”
Camuso said the DIF&W is beginning the process of updating its 15-year management plans for deer, bear and moose. She said the department recognizes that those documents will change, and that the public will play a key role in those changes. In some areas, that may mean reducing the population of a given species, based on traffic, agricultural or other concerns. In other areas, that may mean trying to increase the population level.
“Certainly one of the things we’ll be looking to do is to get input from a broad range of people and find out what level do they want, not just for moose but for deer, bear,” she said. “Obviously, we want to maintain healthy animals, but there’s what we call a biological carrying capacity, but we also want to make sure that we’re not exceeding the social carrying capacity, or underachieving the social desires.”