Some of the world’s foremost moose researchers will head to one of Maine’s “moose-iest” locales next month for the 53rd North American Moose Conference.
Lee Kantar, the state moose biologist for the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, is organizing the event, which will take place June 10-14 at Sugarloaf resort in Carrabassett Valley. Kantar said this marks the first time the event has taken place in Maine since 2001.
And he said the attendees — about 75 to 100 typically register for the event — will include experts with decades of experience in moose management and research. Kantar said most who attend will be state, provincial or federal employees, or university researchers.
“There’s a group of moose researchers and biologists that have pretty much been part of the organization since the beginning, so we’re talking greater than 50 years,” Kantar said. “They like to consider themselves one of the longest running unorganized organizations.”
Attendees are serious about the science, but are loosely organized, Kantar said. Though the core group takes care of financial concerns and produces a professional journal called “Alces” each year, there is no elected board of directors.
“It’s pretty impressive. It shows that all these people are very dedicated to moose globally, and incredibly enthusiastic, considering [this is] the 53rd year.”
Kantar said experts from across the U.S. and Canada will attend, as will some from Europe. The European contingent may be smaller than in some years, though, because the 2020 North American conference will be run concurrently with the International Moose Symposium, which will be staged in Finland. Some European researchers will attend that conference instead of heading to Maine, Kantar said.
Participants will start arriving at Sugarloaf on Monday, June 10 — just two days after the DIF&W stages Maine’s annual moose permit lottery at Cabela’s in Scarborough. Formal activities begin on June 11, and will include the presentation of a variety of academic papers by some of the attendees.
A highlight for the general public: At 7 p.m. on June 12, a panel of visiting guests will hold a forum in the Carrabassett Room of the Sugarloaf Mountain Hotel.
“What I decided to do this year was to have a public forum Q and A that will hopefully generate some interest for people to come and be able to listen to some broad topics on moose for a little while and to ask some of these leading experts the burning questions about moose that somebody wants to pose,” Kantar said.
Among the topics that will surely crop up: Winter ticks and how they affect moose populations in Maine and elsewhere.
“There’s a lot of jurisdictions that are dealing with that,” Kantar said. “We have all this regional [research] going on with New Hampshire, Maine, Vermont, and now you add Quebec and New Brunswick, who are dealing with similarities that are creeping up on them.”
Researchers will also talk about chronic wasting disease and how it may affect moose, among other topics.
Kantar said many of the researchers are in contact with each other throughout the year, but spending time talking face to face provides another chance to discuss work that’s ongoing.
“Sharing knowledge among your peers and other people with expertise is an amazing thing,” he said. “It’s a lot better than an email.”
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