WATERBURY, VT – Vermont’s moose are causing extensive environmental damage by their heavy consumption of plants, including young trees that would become Vermont’s future forest. The most severe damage is occurring in Northeast Kingdom forestlands where there are more than three moose per square mile.
Wildlife biologists are prescribing an increase of moose hunting permits from 440 in 2003 to 850 in 2004 to help stabilize moose population growth in the Northeast Kingdom and slow it down in the rest of the state. Permits for the Northeast Kingdom would be increased from 270 last year to 640 for the hunting season next fall.
Biologists estimate the moose population at nearly 2,000 in Essex County and about 4,700 statewide.
In the most heavily browsed areas, much of the understory of young trees has been destroyed or severely damaged.
“The ability of some trees to regenerate a new forest is being compromised,” said wildlife biologist Cedric Alexander, “and many other species of wildlife are being negatively affected due to habitat destruction.”
Ground-nesting birds, snowshoe hare, endangered spruce grouse and other small wildlife have less shelter from predators due to the heavy browsing by moose.
“A growing database of moose population information collected from eleven years of moose hunting in Wildlife Management Units (WMUs) E1 and E2 along with sighting rates of moose collected from deer hunters have made it possible to create a more sophisticated population model for this part of the state,” said Alexander.
“Our goal, as described in Vermont’s Moose Management Plan, is to stabilize the moose population in WMU E at 1996 levels by increasing permits most in this area. The proposed increase in permits should also help reduce the number of human injuries and fatalities caused by motor vehicle collisions with moose as well as reduce moose damage to maple sugar tubing and farm fencing.”
Applications for Vermont moose hunting permits are available from the Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department, 103 South Main Street, Waterbury, VT 05671-0501. Call them at 802-241-3700 or contact them by email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or download a copy of the application from (www.vtfishandwildlife.com). Permits are issued by lottery to residents and nonresidents.
Hunters took 298 moose in Vermont’s 2003 hunting season. If the Fish and Wildlife Board approves the proposed number of permits, the harvest is expected to be about 500 in the six-day October 16 – 21 hunting season this year.
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