- Associated Press - Sunday, October 26, 2014

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) - New Hampshire’s nine-day moose hunt is wrapping up a season that saw a sharp reduction in the number of permits issued.

Fish and Game officials at the mid-mark Wednesday said nearly 60 percent of the hunters holding moose permits had bagged a moose.

The 75 moose that had been taken at that point included 51 bulls and 24 cows.

Moose season runs through Sunday.

More than 10,000 hunters entered this year’s lottery to secure one of the 124 permits issued - less than half the 275 permits awarded in recent years.

The decline in permits offered this year reflects a drop in the moose population - 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 of 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.

Wildlife biologist Kristine Rines said last week that some of the moose shot so far this year were bearing heavy tick loads and others have come into check stations with virtually no ticks.

The largest moose checked in during the opening weekend of Oct. 18-19 was a bull with a dressed weight of 810 pounds and an antler spread of 43 inches, taken in Bethlehem.

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