January 16, 2024

Here We Go Again… NH Bill Seeks to Seat Non-Sporting Citizens to Board of Commissioners

Article Contact: Fred Bird,

Why It Matters: Introduced on January 3, 2024, New Hampshire House Bill (HB) 1148 seeks to amend the current process and prerequisites in which a Fish & Game Commissioner is nominated and approved. With the proposed changes to RSA 206:2 Appointment of Commission the nominating process would make nominees for an open seat public by way of publishing the name of the nominee in print and on the Department’s website. Most troublesome, and a point of concern for all of New Hampshire’s sporting community, is the proposed changes to the qualifications in Section III of RSA 206:2-a that paves the way for non-hunting and perhaps even anti-hunting nominees to be approved as New Hampshire Fish and Game Commissioners.


  • On January 3, 2024, HB 1148 An Act Relative to the Fish and Game Commission was introduced to the House Fish and Game and Marine Resources Committee.
  • The proposed amendments change the nomination process, currently in the hands of county sporting clubs’ boards, and instead vests that power with “participating organizations”.
  • Participating Organization is defined by the proposal in Section III (a) as, “An organization which has specific interests in hunting, fishing, or trapping, or a wildlife or habitat conservation organization organized under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code, and which has been registered with the department of state for at least 2 consecutive years.”
  • This is not a new idea in the Granite State. In 2020, 2021, and 2022, New Hampshire saw legislative efforts to amend the qualifications that potential members of the Fish and Game Commission must meet, which would ultimately afford recreational clubs and non-consumptive organizations seats at the table.

In what is quickly becoming solidified as a perennial issue, the New Hampshire Fish & Game Department’s Commission is once again the focus of scrutiny from non-sporting and anti-hunting influences with the introduction of HB 1148. Established with the dedicated purpose of protecting and conserving wildlife, game commissions have been understandably staffed by experts in the field throughout their existence. Such experts’ ability to make responsible and effective decisions regarding wildlife management has become contested through non-sportsmen and women pushing for representation on game commissions. Having board members that are neutral on the matter or even directly oppose hunting, trapping, and fishing leads to obstructionism which, in turn, will potentially restrict access and opportunity for sportsmen and women. The pressure for non-consumptive representation on game commissions directly threatens the future of conservation.

Sportsmen and women contribute an incredible amount to conservation efforts through their volunteerism, as well as their purchases of hunting licenses, permits, tags, stamps, and other outdoor related gear. Contributions from species-specific and/or habitat organizations contribute still more. One only needs to look west to states like Oregon and Washington to observe examples of why such changes to commissions become more than problematic. In those states, recent commission decisions have become outright hostile to sound wildlife management, turn conservation doctrine into preservationists’ goal setting, and in some cases seek to ban the very systems and traditions that fund, maintain, and conserve balanced and healthy habitats.

HB 1148 is scheduled for a 10:30 am hearing on February 6, 2024 in the Legislative Office Building (behind the State House) in hearing room 307.

The Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) looks forward to working with the New Hampshire Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus to staunchly oppose this misguided legislation, and remains committed to thwarting efforts to subvert the mission and success of the New Hampshire Fish & Game Commission.

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