Thank you to the 10 members of the Joint Legislative Committee on Administrative Rules (JLCAR) that voted Thursday, unanimously, to approve the proposed biennial rules change for the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department.
The committee’s primary statutory duty is to review the proposed and the previously adopted rules of state agencies.
In giving their approval, they were not speaking to specific Fish and Game proposals on the hunting and trapping of foxes and coyotes, but rather if the department adequately took public comment into consideration when formulating the proposal. The unanimous vote reaffirmed that they did.
I believe it was JLCAR Chairman Sen. John Reagan who told those assembled for the vote that just because the vote didn’t go they way that some wanted, it didn’t mean that they weren’t heard.
And therein lies the rub.
Animal rights groups feel that somehow their voices should carry more weight than those of sportsmen and women in New Hampshire. Perhaps they feel that they’re on a higher moral or ethical plateau than the rest of us? So, even though they didn’t get their way, the story is not over.
Look for Legislative Service Requests, or proposed bills, in the next legislative session. But, that’s typical behavior for a spoiled child who doesn’t get what they want from one parent. They go the other parent, and if that doesn’t work, a sibling or grand-parent.
They just keep going until they find someone who will agree with them and they finally get what they want … or don’t.
I think the president of the New Hampshire Wildlife Federation, Jim Morse put the discussion in context.
“Some have complained fox take numbers were not reduced after an analysis of a very limited set of trapping data showed a decline in fox populations. Many believe the decrease in fox take is from a lack of hunting and trapping participation, not dreadfully low fox population levels. Sportspeople simply asked if more data could be collected before hunting and trapping rules were changed.
“Thankfully, the Fish and Game commissioners listened to reason and chose not to alter the seasons while biologists collected additional data. For example, last year’s red fox take was 115 animals across the entire state. Considering there are 221 towns and 13 cities in New Hampshire, I would hazard a guess each town might have more than approximately 0.5 fox.
“Recently a boy was bitten by a fox in the Meredith area that was later found to be rabid. Animal attacks, especially from predators such as fox, coyotes and bobcats, are occurring with more regularity. Rabies and distemper are ‘density dependent’ and often manifest in large condensed populations of mammals. This is arguably Mother Nature’s unpleasant way of controlling her animal populations. We do not know how many foxes have rabies in New Hampshire due to limited funding for testing. Perhaps those that wish to severely limit trapping and hunting could fund rabies testing, much the same way sportsmen and sportswomen fund the Fish and Game Department.”
So, in my simplistic, black and white logic – if you don’t want to hunt, fish or trap, for whatever reason (time constraints, ethical issues, cultural differences or lack of past experiences) … then don’t, but don’t tell me that I can’t because you have a problem with it.
JLCAR arrived at the logical conclusion. Fish and Game’s proposals were in keeping with their mission as the guardian of the state’s fish, wildlife and marine resources, to “conserve, manage and protect these resources and their habitats; inform and educate the public about these resources; and provide the public with opportunities to use and appreciate these resources.”
Sadly, the animal rights folks only see and hear what they want to see and hear. And that vision and selective hearing does no favors to the people of New Hampshire.