When you think of wild states, perhaps California or Nevada come to mind before Maine…you know Vegas, Hollywood, shows, nightlife. But Maine has its own wild life, no we are not talking nightlife (except maybe Portland’s Old Port), it’s more of a nature’s wild show in the Pine Tree state. Maine has vast wilderness, one of the highest states per capita for wildlife species.
MOOSE: Maine has over 75,000 moose in the wild. Maine’s moose count is second only to Alaska. Moose are most often sighted at dawn and dusk, in the western and northern part of the state. Maine Moose safaris are a great way to “almost-guarantee” a moose sighting, since the rangers, foresters and registered Maine guides that lead moose tours know where to go, especially in the Rangeley Lakes region. Since Maine’s moose herd population is so strong, Maine issues 2,740 Maine moose hunting permits, with a 75% success rate – its not much of a hunt but it can be a challenge hauling a 500-1000 pound moose out of the woods. Moose are the largest of the deer family, standing up to 7-feet tall at the shoulder, they can swim at 6 mph, or run up to 35… so there’s some wild Maine activity for you. More Maine moose trivia: a male moose is a bull, a female is a cow, and a baby is calf. Moose shed their antlers every year, the antlers alone can weigh up to 40 pounds.
BALD EAGLES: Eagles are on the rise in Maine, home to 75% of New England’s iconic bird population with upward of 600 pair producing 300 “fledging” each year as offspring. To spot bald eagles, look to the highest trees near the water – eagles eat fish so they stay close to their source with an “eagle- eye” view of their prey. Look for nests, eagles are habitual – sometimes residing in the same spot for years. Eagles become “bald” with a white head by about age 5 along with a white tail.
LOONS: Loon are often heard before they’re seen on Maine’s lakes given their unique cry of the loon, a yodel or laugh as some loon-lovers call it. Maine’s loon count is at over 4,000, similar to Wisconsin, but Minnesota has the highest Loon population at twice that. The common loon is prehistoric, thought to be 30 million year sold according to ornithologists. Loons can swim underwater for 4 minutes, and can fly at about 60 mph for hundreds of miles, but spend very little time on land. Loons can live up to 25 years, and many mate for life, nesting in the late spring with typically two eggs that both parents guard fiercely – recognizing that watercraft wake can drown their chicks before they hatch. The Maine Loon Project fiercely protects this iconic aquatic bird, hosting an annual loon count among volunteers.
PUFFIN: Maine puffin are a unique North Atlantic bird, seen in the greatest abundance on Maine’s northeast coast where there are as many as 5,000 puffin pair. Boat tours from Boothbay and Bar Harbor can take you out to sea, to see islands where puffins populate. Downeast Maine is the furthest south this cold water bird migrates. Otherwise for puffins spotting, a threatened species, its Newfoundland, Norway or Iceland.
MAINE BLACK BEAR: Black bear are the smallest among the species, and most commonly found in Maine. About the size of humans, Maine bears are 5-6 feet tall standing, but can weigh 250-600 pounds (shocking given they eat primarily berries, fruits and, nuts). Bear hibernate in Maine from late fall to spring, and eat and mate from May to August. Maine’s three-month bear hunting season is late August through November. Over 10,000 bear hunting permits are issued in Maine, with a total population estimated at over 35,000 black bears and increasing.
OH DEER: Maine’s deer population is huge, over 200,00 deer, mostly white tail deer roam the state from the south to the north.
MAINE WHALE: Whale watching in Maine requires a long boat ride, since whales are typically about 20 miles off shore from mid-April to September. In Maine you can hope to see humpbacks, pilot whales, minke and sperm whales, right whales and occasionally the largest finback whale that can be as big as your whale watch boat. Yikes. Whale watch boat tours depart from Kennebunkport, Boothbay and Bar Harbor in the summer months. More Maine marine life in the wild, dolphin, porpoise and harbor seals are quite plentiful in Maine’s coastal waters in summertime.
So there you go, go on a wildlife tour in Maine, you can no longer say Maine isn’t wild…
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