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Courtesy Bangor Daily News Archives, September 22, 1980

Associated Press

Courtesy Bangor Daily News

Packing high-powered rifles and lottery-won permits, the first of 700 hunters began arriving in the northern Maine woods Sunday for the first moose hunting season in 45 years.

Maine’s state animal may be hunted legally for five days-beginning a half-hour before sunrise Monday and ending at sundown Saturday.

“There have been a lot of hunters coming through Greenville,” a the southern end of Moosehead Lake, said Fish and Wildlife Department spokesman Thomas Shoener in a telephone interview Sunday.

Shoener said many hunters are stopping at his department’s regional headquarters in Greenville to leave their location in case they need to be notified of an emergency while they are in the wilderness.

Greenville is one of six “bagging stations,” set up on major routes in the northern two-fifths of the state, where killed moose will be registered and inspected by biologists studying the condition of the herd, Shoener said.

But a New York City based animal protection group called “Friend of Animals” last week called upon Gov. Joseph E. Brennan to call off the hunt, threatening to boycott Maine as a vacation spot. The group contended that Maine’s moose herd is so tame after 45 years of protection that shooting them would be “easier than shooting fish in a barrel.”

This actually marks the first time in 91 years that moose of either gender are legal hunting targets in Maine. During the last moose season in 1935, only bull moose in three counties could be killed.

More than 32,000 Mainers gambled $5 to win one of the 700 permits for the experimental, one-year season that was approved by the Legislature last year. Those whose names were drawn in June paid an additional $10 to hunt, and those who kill a moose must pay another $10 for the right to take it home.

The enabling legislature required that at least $85,000 of the income generated by the 1980 season be set aside for scientific research on the moose. Biologists will weigh, measure the antlers and check the reproductive systems of animals registered at the bagging stations this week, Shoener said.

Shoener estimated the size of Maine’s moose herd at between 15,000 and 20,000-up from about 6,000 in the late 1930’s and considered healthy enough now to stand the loss of 700 animals. Each permit holder can name another person to accompany him or her in the woods, but only one animal can be killed per license.

To prevent illegal hunting, additional wardens have been stationed in the woods and all other forms of hunting have been banned for the entire week, Shoener said. Simple possession of a firearm will be ample evidence to convict illegal hunters, he added.

“If they’re there with a gun, the law says they’re hunting,” he said.

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