Contact: Joe Mullin, New England States Coordinator
On February 4, the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation’s (CSF) New England States Senior Coordinator, Joseph Mullin, traveled to Concord, NH to testify on several sportsmen-related bills that were up for hearings in various committees. Joining alongside numerous in-state and national conservation organizations, as well as crowds of sportsmen, Mullin fought against legislation that would ban coyote hunting tournaments, increase the firearms discharge distance from 300 feet to 900 feet (which would significantly curtail hunting access throughout the southern portion of the state), and a bill that sought to create a committee to study the feasibility of prohibiting recreational trapping.
First on the day’s agenda was a hearing in the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee on Senate Bill 588 (SB 588) – legislation that would prohibit coyote hunting contests for New Hampshire’s sportsmen and women. A crowd of eager speakers overflowed into the State House hallway. Mullin’s testimony in opposition to this bill centered on the fact that hunting tournaments are a well-regulated practice that provide an opportunity for the sporting community to interact with one another, forming new relationships and passing down generational knowledge and experience.
The next hearing was in regards to House Bill 1115 (HB 1115) – legislation that closes off access to hunting and firearms training by extending the current firearms discharge distance of 300 feet around nonresidential, commercial buildings to 900 feet. Mullin spoke (and submitted written testimony) to the topic of a lack of access being empirically proven to restrict hunter participation and what that would mean in terms of lost conservation funding to the New Hampshire Fish and Game (NHFG) Department. With the current limitation of 300 feet, there is an overall area of roughly 6.5 acres in which the discharge of a firearm is prohibited, whereas when the distance is extended to 900 feet, the amount of lost real estate increases to an astounding 58 acres around each building. Given the role that sportsmen and women play in contributing the vast majority of funding for the Fish and Game Department through the American System of Conservation Funding, CSF encourages legislators to investigate ways to increase access and opportunity for this important constituency, not restrict it.
The final sportsmen-related hearing of the day was held in the House Fish and Game and Marine Resources Committee. House Bill 1504 (HB 1504) is an overt attempt towards a future ban on recreational trapping in the Granite State. When it was his turn to speak, Mullin pointed to the fact that fish and wildlife management decisions should and must be left to the NHFG Department’s purview. This bill is an effort to bypass the NHFG Department’s responsibility of conserving and managing New Hampshire’s fish and game resources and their habitats, by allowing the legislature to make such a decision. Trapping is also an essential component of modern wildlife management. Written testimony was also submitted to the Committee for its consideration.
CSF will continue to fight against anti-sportsmen legislation as it arises in New Hampshire and across the nation. Updates will be provided on the statuses of SB 588, HB 1115, and HB 1504 as they become available.
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?