- Associated Press - Sunday, May 25, 2014

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) - The deadline is approaching to enter New Hampshire’s moose permit lottery.

Entries are due Friday, May 30.

The state is offering permits to 124 winners for this year’s moose hunt, which runs from Oct. 18-26.

Last year’s statewide hunter success rate for moose was 64 percent. More than 13,000 people entered to win one of 275 permits issued last year. Winners included hunters from 18 states.

This year’s winners will be selected through a computerized random drawing and announced on Friday, June 20.

The number of permits is down from 275 awarded in recent years. That’s because New Hampshire’s moose population had dropped from a peak of about 7,600 in 1996 to about 4,400.

Fish and Game officials, in partnership with the University of New Hampshire, are in the first year of a three-year study into the causes of moose mortality and how changing weather patterns may be affecting the animals. Researchers have placed tracking collars on more than 40 moose so far this year and are investigating whether winter ticks are the main factor in the declining population or whether there are other causes.

Researchers will use samples taken from the moose and the tracking data to evaluate the animals’ immune systems and investigate whether winter ticks are the main factor in the declining population or whether there are other causes. That analysis is just starting, but biologist Kristine Rines said earlier this year that about 20 percent of the moose collared were thinner than they should be and were carrying winter tick loads that appeared heavy.

In an average year, a moose might carry about 30,000 ticks, but in a severe year, that number can be five times higher, Rines said. Unlike deer, moose are not big on grooming and have trouble shedding the ticks. Instead, they end up constantly scratching, which depletes their fur and leaves them susceptible to hypothermia, she said.

To enter the moose lottery, visit https://www.huntnh.com to apply online or print out a mail-in application. Participants also can pick up a lottery application from any Fish and Game office or license agent.

The entry fee is $15 for New Hampshire residents and $25 for nonresidents.

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