MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) — The Vermont Fish and Wildlife Board has voted to drastically reduce the number of moose-hunting permits to 13 this year, down from 80 in 2017.

The fall hunt will also be limited to bull moose in the northeastern corner of the state, where the Fish & Wildlife Department recommends the moose population be maintained at its current level to reduce the effects of winter ticks, the department said Friday.

Wildlife biologist Cedric Alexander, Vermont’s moose project leader, estimates the state has 1,650 moose with the greatest concentration in the Northeast Kingdom.

“We are limiting the hunt to the portion of the state where the moose population is stabilizing, and we believe it is in the best interest of moose to keep their density at its current level of one moose per square mile,” he said. “By maintaining moose at this level, research indicates winter ticks will have fewer hosts to feed on.”

He has said that studies suggest warmer, wetter weather allows two moose parasites to thrive: winter ticks and brainworms.

Five of the permits will be available to Vermont military veterans and up to three will be available for recipients with life-threatening illnesses. The other five permits will be auctioned.

No public lottery will be held for the permits as the state has done in the past. The department expects nine or 10 moose will be taken during the hunt.

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