- Associated Press - Tuesday, February 14, 2017

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) - The New Hampshire Fish and Game Department proposes issuing 51 moose hunt lottery permits this year, the lowest number since the state started its current system in 1988.

Permits have declined in recent years, partly because of the impact of parasites, both winter tick and brainworm, on the moose population. Last year, 71 lottery permits were issued.

Hearing dates on the proposal will be announced soon.

The department said the estimated density of moose in the southwest region has declined to the “cutoff threshold” in the state’s moose management plan. Permits will be suspended in three units in the area for 2017.

The proposal also would reduce numbers in the north and White Mountain regions.

The estimated number of moose in the state is 3,600 to 3,800, down from about 4,000 last year and about half of the population it had a decade ago.

“We still have moose statewide,” said Kent Gustafson, wildlife programs administrator. “Obviously their densities are not what they were back in the mid-to-late ‘90s, when they were peaking. We’re obviously very concerned about them. But at this point in time they’re not endangered or threatened,” he said.

New Hampshire, Maine, Vermont and New York are taking part in moose-monitoring studies, placing collars on moose to follow their movements and determine the causes of mortality.

New Hampshire’s first modern-day moose hunt took place in 1988, with 75 permits issued in the North Country. At that time, New Hampshire was home to about 1,600 moose.

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