March 9, 2020

New Hampshire: Anti-Sportsmen Attacks Flop in Committee

Contact: Joe Mullin, New England States Senior Coordinator

On March 3, the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation’s (CSF) New England States Senior Coordinator, Joseph Mullin, traveled to Concord, NH for an eventful day at the Capitol, reporting on numerous sportsmen-related bills that were awaiting executive sessions in their respective committees. The topics of the day included legislation that CSF has been actively engaged in defeating. These bills would create a committee to study a ban on recreational trapping, allow animal rights interests to serve on the New Hampshire Fish and Game (NHFG) Commission, increase the firearms discharge distance to 900 feet, and ban coyote hunting tournaments. Ultimately, CSF’s efforts, working alongside a litany of actively engaged in-state and national partners, secured numerous victories for New Hampshire’s sportsmen and women as many bills received unfavorable committee reports or were amended favorably as they were discharged from their respective committees.

NH House Bill 1504 – An Act Establishing a Committee to Study Prohibiting Recreational Trapping.

During a lively discussion, the NH House Fish and Game and Marine Resources Committee debated the merits, or rather lack thereof, of creating a committee dedicated to the purpose of studying the “feasibility of prohibiting recreational trapping” in New Hampshire. Aside from serving as one of America’s most time-honored traditions, trapping is an essential and effective method in mitigating wildlife damage and protecting threatened ecosystems. For these reasons, CSF submitted a letter of opposition to the Committee and spoke against it during the public hearing on February 18. Ultimately, the Committee held this bill as “Inexpedient to Legislate” (ITL) with a vote of 15-5.

NH House Bill 1571 – An Act Relative to the Qualifications for the Members of the Fish and Game Commission.

Serving as one of the most highly contested sportsmen-related bills during the 2020 legislative session thus far, House Bill 1571 would have opened the door for animal rights groups and other anti-hunting extremists to become members of the NHFG Commission, undercutting the true purpose of the Commission’s composition and calling into question the integrity of its membership base. CSF worked alongside in-state and national conservation organizations in fighting this bill, submitting a letter of opposition and providing oral testimony during the bill’s February 18 public hearing. House Bill 1571 was voted ITL by the NH House Fish and Game and Marine Resources Committee with a result of 16-6.

NH House Bill 1115 – An Act Relative to the Discharge of a Firearm in the Compact Part of a City or Town.

The NH House Municipal and County Government Committee held an executive session to discuss the abundance of testimony that it received from seemingly countless constituents and sportsmen’s groups on the repercussions that House Bill 1115 would impose on hunters and recreational shooters. Essentially, this bill intended to triple the current firearms discharge distance around nonresidential, commercial buildings from 300 feet to 900 feet. What seemed to resonate strongest with the Committee was this simple fact: a discharge distance of 300 feet means that there is an overall area of roughly 6.5 acres in which the discharge of a firearm is prohibited, but when the distance is extended to 900 feet, the amount of lost space increases nine-fold to 58 acres. CSF submitted written testimony in opposition to this bill and spoke to the significance that this loss in real estate would mean to New Hampshire’s sportsmen and women who rely on access to land to engage in their pursuits. During the March 3 executive session, the Committee voted 17-1 to ITL House Bill 1115.

NH Senate Bill 588 – An Act Relative to Wanton Waste of an Animal and Prohibiting Wildlife Killing Contests.

Senate Bill 588 (SB 588) sought to ban coyote hunting contests for New Hampshire’s sportsmen and women. CSF submitted testimony to the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee in opposition to this bill and attended the February 4 hearing. The Committee ultimately voted “Ought to Pass” on an amended version that was proposed by Senator Giuda, a Co-Chair of the New Hampshire Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus, which leaves regulatory authority over coyote hunting tournaments within the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department’s jurisdiction.

NH Senate Bill 469 – An Act Relative to Shooting Ranges.

Following a lively hearing on January 23 for Senate Bill 469 (SB 469) – legislation that subjects the owner and operator of a shooting range to civil and criminal liabilities for the violation of noise ordinances that went into effect after the range was established – the bill died in the Senate on March 5 by a unanimous vote of 24-0. CSF submitted written opposition to SB 469 and testified during its hearing as to the substantial detriments that the bill would impose on not only the State’s shooting ranges, but the reality that it would drive contributions away from the American System of Conservation Funding. CSF commends the NH Senate for listening to all of the constituents who testified in opposition to this bill and for standing up for the Granite State’s sportsmen.

The anti-sportsmen’s groups have taken numerous bites at preventing hunting, fishing, recreational shooting, and trapping in the Granite State, but CSF will continue to work with in-state and national conservation partners to protect our nation’s time-honored traditions.

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?

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