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Winning the Lottery, Moose Style

If you bought a ticket in the hopes of winning the record-setting $640 million Mega Millions jackpot back in March, you probably have a pretty good idea what Alice Jenness of New Hampshire was going through last week.  Only instead of hoping to win over a half billion dollars, she was holding her breath for the chance to hunt a moose.

You see, in order to control moose populations up in the Northeast, they hold annual lotteries for permits that give holders the right to take one moose each.  However, because population control efforts have been so successful, combined with increased numbers of moose die-offs as a result of ticks, the number of permits issued each year has been steadily declining.  Combine that with rapidly increasing numbers of entrants into the lottery system and the chances of winning a permit have become quite slim.

Indeed, over 13,000 people entered this year in the hopes of winning one of 275 permits.  And, unfortunately for hunters, those numbers are likely to keep decreasing, according to wildlife biologists and other experts.  In addition to the successful population control programs enacted by state and federal agencies, ticks and other pests are likely to become more and more common.  In New Hampshire’s case, moose often carry up to 30,000 of the ticks at once during a normal year.  However, whereas the ticks typically fall off and die in the winter snow, warmer winters have allowed ticks that fall off to reproduce instead.  Now, moose in New Hampshire have been found to have over 120,000 ticks on them at one time, making them more susceptible to anemia and blood loss.  And that can spell disaster both for moose populations as well as for hunters like Alice Jenness who will have the opportunity to hunt her first, and possibly her last, moose.

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