The cost of a federally funded research project in New Hampshire caused Debora Pignatelli, Fish and Game Executive Councilor for the state, to do a double take. According to the contract, the four-year study will cost $695,000. Governor Maggie Hassan and the Executive Council did eventually approve the contract after some review. Moose tracking is very expensive, but ultimately worth the cost.
The research team will track 80 to 100 moose from now until 2017. They will monitor adult cows and baby moose calves with GPS tracking devices. The devices themselves are costly, but don’t account for the bulk cost of the study. The team will first track down each moose from a helicopter, tranquilize it and record pertinent data before attaching the GPS tracking collar. “Radio collaring moose is extremely expensive,” explained Fish and Game Executive Director Glenn Normandeau. “It’s not just a bunch of people running around in the bushes with dart guns.”
There are currently an estimated 4,500 moose in the state of New Hampshire. The research team hopes to maintain and grow the moose population, which is vital to the state’s economy and ecosystem. Moose in New Hampshire currently face a variety of challenges, including hunting, deadly traffic and disease, as well as climate-related obstacles. An estimated 250 moose are roadkill victims every year, and 275 moose hunting permits were issued for the 2013 hunting season. Moose can contract deadly diseases from ticks in the area.
The contract information states that moose are “an invaluable ecological, economic, and recreational resource in New Hampshire. The annual estimated economic expenditure associated with new Hampshire wildlife-watching exceeds $250 million.” The moose alone generate more than $300,000 each year for the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department. This revenue is used for wildlife management, staffing and enforcement.