OLD TOWN, Maine — The number one question people ask Lee Kantar, the moose biologist for the state of Maine, is simply: How many moose are there in Maine?
That number means many things to many people. It is used to drive tourism. It is used to determine how many permits are issued in the fiercely contested moose-hunting lottery (last year, more than 54,000 people applied for 3,725 permits). And it is used as a badge of honor, a concrete way for Mainers to illustrate just how wild the last great wilderness in the Northeast really is. Nothing says “middle of nowhere” like a moose.