BETHEL, Maine — On Saturday, 2,740 hunters will find out that they’ve been selected to take part in the 2015 Maine moose hunt. If you’ve been applying for the chance to hunt for a few years, you may realize that the state’s modern hunt began in 1980, when it was staged on an experimental basis. After a year to study the data, the moose hunt returned as an annual event in 1982, and has been held each year since.
Here’s a look behind the numbers that help define Maine’s moose hunt, according to information provided by the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife:
How many people am I competing against to win a permit? This year, a total of 47,172 people applied for 2,740 permits. But here’s the deal: Each nonresident applicant — there were 12,883 of those this year — is competing against other nonresidents for 10 percent of the permits that are available — a total 267 permits this year. As for Maine residents, 34,289 of us applied for one of 2,473 permits.
So, what are my odds? Well, that’s when it gets complicated. Many applicants have accumulated “bonus points,” which are awarded each time a person is not chosen in the lottery. And nonresidents are allowed to purchase as many “chances” in the lottery as they want (don’t fret, residents: They’re not competing for one of the permits you seek). Further complicating matters, prospective hunters often opt out of hunts that aren’t in the area they want to target, for the gender of moose they want to hunt, or during the week that they’re available. Overall, though — if an applicant is willing to acceptany available permit, the odds of a single chance, or number, being drawn is 1 in 70 for Mainers, and 1 in 998 for nonresidents.
So, a total of 52,374 applicants entered this year’s lottery. How does that stack up? It’s about average compared with the past several years, and just below last year’s total of 53,577. The number of applicants fell as far as 49,729 in 2010, but has rebounded to as many as 55,946 in 2013.
But what’s the record number of applicants? Wasn’t that much higher? Second question first, the answer is yes. In fact, back in 1994, 94,532 applicants signed up for a chance at a Maine moose. That’s the all-time high, and some suspect that the frustration felt by people who have entered for years — unsuccessfully — has led many to simply drop out and refuse to take part in the lottery.
While we’re talking about records, can you share a few more? Sure. Try these on for size. Most permits allotted in a year: 4,110 in 2013. Most moose harvested by hunters in a given year: 3,015, also in 2013. Most nonresident applicants in a year: 24,308, in 2002. Fewest moose harvested in a year: 636, in the first year of the modern hunt, 1980. (But remember, only 700 permits were handed out that year. The success rate was 90.9 percent).