A long time ago, I observed majestic bull moose on a regular basis in the many feeding ponds of beautiful Baxter State Park. That was before Maine started sanctioning the killing of moose in 1980. The chances of a visitor seeing a mature bull moose in the beautiful fall foliage of the Katahdin region is now slim to none.
I am an award-winning wildlife photographer. Baxter State Park was once my favorite place in the world to photograph wildlife. Not anymore. Now, even though I live in Maine, I travel to Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming to photograph moose.
It is a thrill unmatched to see a mature bull moose, amidst the brilliant colors of autumn in New England, up close, living life, chasing cows, battling rivals and splashing across a beautiful mountain pond into the mystical Katahdin woods. Or to observe in the new spring growth the affection between awkward orange moose calves and their protective mothers, and their love of life.
Why do Maine’s politicians favor the killers of wildlife over those people who simply want to watch these magnificent animals in the wild? Why can’t we who favor allowing moose (and other iconic species) to live out their lives be given one area in Maine where that is possible? Why do “hunters” get rights superior to those who wish only to observe and photograph, leaving the animal for others to watch in wonder in the future?
There should be a buffer zone surrounding Baxter State Park and Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument where hunting of moose is prohibited, so that most if not all moose that inhabit these spiritual places will never be killed by humans.
If it were my decision, moose hunting would be stopped entirely in Maine and elsewhere. There is an immorality and stupidity to this hunt that is stunning. The state of Maine allows and encourages trophy hunting, the killing of a magnificent wild animal for no other reason than to cut its head off, to be hung like a picture on a wall for all to see.
Maine argues we must allow and encourage hunting to manage the species. This implies good management, including protection of the species. However, the killing of the biggest, most powerful animals in the population is the opposite of good management. It weakens the species. That is not how nature does it. In nature, the strongest survive and pass on their genes to future generations, thereby strengthening the species.
Maine argues that it needs the money it receives from hunting licenses. I would argue that many more dollars than that would come into Maine if the Katahdin region became known as the Yellowstone of the East, a place where the wildlife of the great North Woods is protected. Ecotourism would flourish like it does in Acadia National Park. Visitors to Maine would flock to the spectacular places where they knew they had an outstanding chance to observe a fully mature bull moose going about its magnificent life in the Maine woods.