Contact: Joe Mullin, Assistant Manager, Northeastern States
Why it Matters: Training one’s hunting dog prior to taking it afield is an absolute necessity – ask any sportsman or woman. In New Hampshire and across the nation, dogs are a regular part of the hunting culture and play a vital role in several pursuits, including rabbit and snowshoe hare hunting. In preparation for these seasons, a dog is commonly trained over live, captured rabbits and/or hares under environments that simulate situations the dog will see in the field. The use of these rabbits and hares is also an important component to field trials, during which a dog’s ability to perform under hunting conditions is both tested and scored. Legislative efforts to prevent the use of captured rabbits or hares threatens to undermine a dog’s preparation, thus risking its overall safety and performance.
On January 25, the New Hampshire House Fish and Game and Marine Resources Committee sent a strong message of support to the sporting dog community. By a vote of 18-1, the Committee voted House Bill 1308 (HB 1308) as “Inexpedient to Legislate,” effectively killing the bill. This legislation would have forbidden the live taking of wild snowshoe hares or rabbits for the purpose of using them for dog training, to stock a training site, or in field trials – a practice that the sporting community recognizes as a vital part of ensuring a dog’s safety during the snowshoe hare and rabbit seasons. This hearing came one month after the New Hampshire Fish and Game (NHFG) Commission’s Legislator Committee and Strategic Planning Committee met and voted 9-1 against this bill. CSF submitted written testimony in advance of the hearing to the NHFG Commission opposing HB 1308, but there was still much work to be done.
As was previously reported, CSF has fought this legislation while it was before the New Hampshire Fish and Game Commission’s Legislator Committee and Strategic Planning Committee last December, as well as the Committee level this month, submitting multiple letters and testifying in-person.
Once again, CSF thanks the many organizations and individuals who took part in opposing this restrictive legislation. Dogs are a regular part of our nation’s hunting culture and play a vital role to sportsmen and women everywhere. For these reasons, CSF will continue to fight against efforts that seek to undermine their contributions.
Studies conducted at both the state and federal level have found that the number of hunters and trappers have been on a generally declining trend over the past several decades. To increase recruitment, retention, and reactivation (R3) of hunters and trappers, which initiative do you think would have the greatest impact?