Our Turn: Moose are being responsibly managed in New Hampshire

Published: 7/13/2019 8:30:05 AM

A June 6 letter to the editor regarding moose management criticizes N.H. Fish and Game for encouraging what the writer describes as an “annual slaughter” of moose. The author also refers to hunters as “those dedicated to (the) slaughter” of wildlife.

The annual moose lottery has been responsibly implemented by NHF&G for over 30 years. Permits are issued based on regional population assessments, as guided by a management plan vetted by the public and approved by the Fish and Game Commission. Past successes in meeting the ecological, economic, recreational and social interests of New Hampshire’s diverse moose constituents is testimony to our thoughtful, science-based management of the state’s moose resources.

References to experts in the aforementioned letter are in fact references to our own staff and research partners, who are heavily vested in moose research that informs New Hampshire’s management practices. Notably, this research has been largely funded by hunters, who have proven to be dedicated wildlife stewards with a priority interest in wildlife population sustainability and health. Referring to hunters as “those dedicated to slaughter” reflects both a degree of ignorance and mean-spirited mindset that is all too common these days.

New Hampshire’s current moose management plan includes population thresholds that trigger the suspension of moose permit issuance when thresholds are reached (moose permit issuance was suspended in Southwest New Hampshire during 2017 and 2018 due to such thresholds). This year’s allocation of 49 moose permits is expected to provide a healthy source of protein for approximately 35 successful hunters and their friends and families. This number of moose will not have an adverse impact on our statewide population, and it pales in comparison to the number of animals annually killed on our highways, and more significantly, killed by winter ticks and brain worm.

Ironically, it appears that the best way to reduce tick numbers and their impacts on moose may be the purposeful reduction of high-density moose herds that facilitate and perpetuate a high prevalence of ticks on our landscape. That is a discussion for another day.

Our knowledge of moose declines and the mechanisms that drive them are the result of our longstanding collection of biological data at mandatory moose registration stations, and three decades of exhaustive research studies that have been largely funded by hunters.

Claims of indifference to the well-being of moose and/or other wildlife species by the department and/or hunters are an affront to the 60,000 hunters of our state, and to the dedicated biologists and research scientists who have committed their careers to the wise stewardship and protection of our invaluable wildlife resources.

(Mark Ellingwood is the wildlife chief of N.H. Fish and Game. Glenn Normandeau is the director of N.H. Fish and Game.)

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