Friday, June 19, 2009

Moose lottery

Maine's moose permit lotteries have now been held, and 3,015 lucky or persistent or rich people got permits to shoot. Lucky: 56,600 applications were made. Persistent: applicants get extra chances based on how many times they haven't got a permit in the past. Rich: 10 permits are auctioned off by sealed bids - around $10,000 probably got you one.

This is all quite sophisticated and highly worked out. Residents get 90% of the permits. Hunters, both residents and non-residents, can increase their odds by buying extra chances (the prices are doubled for flatlanders; indeed, they are encouraged to buy 10-chance packages at only $55 each). There's a system for registering one's hunting companion, only one allowed, who is felicitously called a "subpermittee," and a possible last-minute substitute for the subpermittee, called "alternate subpermittee." A permit holder is assigned either a bull or a cow, to be harvested in September, October, or November. Permit swapping is allowed but only once, and only with another permit holder. You can expect success; 75% get their prize.

It seems that the magnificence of the animal demands this elaborate system. A thousand pounds of meat, or an antler rack for your den, shouldn't come easily. And the season has to be heavily regulated, or these shy, placid beasts, estimated to number about 30,000 in Maine, would be quickly eradicated. By the way, a handgun may be used, which gives you some idea of the level of sporting expertise required. And there's even a season now in southern Maine, instituted last year to substitute for the killing by cars.

Needless to say, I don't quite get the whole proceeding.

There are two saving graces: first, the proceeds from the lotteries are used to send Maine kids to camp; second, if the price of preserving the 21,000 square miles of wilderness (sorry, Wildlife Managements Areas) in which moose hunting is permitted is the death of 2,000 moose, I guess I'm all for it.

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