NH: Public hearings set for proposed 2012 wildlife rules changes
CONCORD, N.H. — Proposed rule changes affecting hunting and trapping seasons in New Hampshire for 2012 and 2013 will be discussed at three public hearings being held by the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department on the following dates and locations:
* Monday, April 2, 6:30 p.m. – Keene High School, 43 Arch Street, Keene, N.H. 03431
* Wednesday, April 4, 6:30 p.m. – N.H. Fish and Game Region 1 Office, North Country Resource Center, 629 B Main Street, Lancaster, N.H. 03584
* Thursday, April 5, 6:30 p.m. – N.H. Fish and Game Department Headquarters, 11 Hazen Drive, Concord, N.H. 03884
Hunters, trappers and other interested constituents are encouraged to attend the hearings and offer their input on the proposed rules. Public input is considered during the formulation of final Fish and Game proposals.
The New Hampshire Fish and Game Department reviews the state’s hunting seasons every two years to ensure that they are in line with wildlife management objectives, including those identified in the state’s Big Game Management Plan. The plan guides deer, moose, bear and turkey management in New Hampshire through the year 2015.
Highlights of the new rule proposals include:
Under the current proposal, Wildlife Management Units (WMUs) D2 and G would be split into east and west components. This change would allow Fish and Game to tailor the management of these distinctly different areas (the sections of these units that are near the rich Connecticut River Valley have a much higher deer density than the more eastern areas) and better accommodate hunter and public interest.
Archers would once again be allowed to harvest deer of either sex during the entire archery season (September 15 through December 15). For the past two years, September harvest by archers was restricted to antlered deer only.
Minimal changes are being proposed to the either-sex deer days allowed in various WMUs. To view a chart showing how the proposed either-sex hunting days would change, visit http://www.huntnh.com/Newsroom/News_2012/News_2012_Q1/wildlife_rules_2012.html.
New York would be removed from the list of states designated as positive for Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD). This would allow for the importation of hunter-killed deer, without having to bone them out first, from this traditionally popular destination for New Hampshire hunters. New York’s comprehensive sampling program has shown five consecutive years without CWD detection.
A minor change would require the registration of the first deer taken before a second deer is harvested; this is generally the case now, but the proposal would clear up a few loopholes. Long Island and Governors Island permittees would be exempt from this rule.
As part of the rules package, the N.H. Fish and Game Commission is looking for public input on a proposal that would prohibit permanent crossbow license holders from using a “regular” bow. This license is intended for permanently disabled hunters who are not able to use a regular bow.
The Commission is also inviting input on a proposal to eliminate the requirement that arrows be labeled with a hunter’s name and address. This issue has come up previously, and the Commission felt it was worth gathering public input on the proposal again this year.
Fish and Game is proposing to reduce the number of moose hunting permits from 395 to 275. “The proposed reduction in permits stems from our growing awareness of the significant negative impact winter tick is currently having on our moose herd, including dramatic reductions in cow weights that result in reductions in herd productivity, particularly in our more northern moose management regions,” said Fish and Game Moose Biologist Kristine Rines. A comparison of past and proposed N.H. moose permit allocation by region is posted at http://www.huntnh.com/Newsroom/News_2012/News_2012_Q1/wildlife_rules_2012.html
There are no proposed changes in the state’s bear seasons, as populations are generally on track. The rule package includes a proposal to limit the number of bears that a hunter can assist in taking to a maximum of 6. This change would mainly impact hound hunters. Discussions regarding this proposal are ongoing.
No changes are proposed in the state’s turkey seasons, and expansion of turkey hunting opportunities do not appear to be on the horizon. “Consideration of a more liberal fall season and/or a second gobbler in the spring bag are on firm hold given the flat or declining spring kill in many WMUs,” said Wildlife Biologist Mark Ellingwood. While the total turkey harvest statewide has remained steady in recent years, the spring harvest has been down in the upper Connecticut River Valley and central portions of the state.
Coming off what appear to have been strong grouse and squirrel seasons, no changes are being proposed for the small game seasons.
With the exception of the weasel season, which would be adjusted to coincide with the season for beaver, muskrat, mink and otter, no furbearer season changes are proposed. At the same time, notable changes in trapping practices are being proposed, principally in response to the documented presence of breeding lynx in northern New Hampshire.
NEW LYNX PROTECTION ZONE:
“Special trapping regulations for the northern half of the state are being proposed to mitigate possible impacts on lynx, which have been recently documented as a breeding presence in northern New Hampshire and are federally listed as a threatened species,” said Fish and Game Wildlife Biologist Mark Ellingwood. “Doing so will safeguard lynx while simultaneously facilitating continued trapping of fisher and other legally trapped species.”
In the proposed lynx zone, traps could only be placed in locations or circumstances where the potential for lynx to access them is significantly reduced, if not eliminated. Mid-size body-gripping traps, such as the Conibear 160, will only be legal if set off of the ground or when set within a lynx exclusion device (a special box designed to preempt lynx access). Other requirements and restrictions in the lynx zone can be viewed in the rulemaking notice. Go to http://www.huntnh.com/Newsroom/News_2012/News_2012_Q1/wildlife_rules_2012.html to see a map depicting the proposed lynx zone.
Proposals include additional restrictions on foothold and body-gripping traps.
BAT CONSERVATION MEASURES:
Two rules in the proposal reflect a growing concern for the status of many of New Hampshire’s bat populations, which have been decimated by White Nose Syndrome in recent years:
* Wildlife Control Operator IIs would be required to report on all bat exclusions performed.
* A new rule would prohibit exclusion of bats from unoccupied structures from May 15 to August 15 unless the N.H. Department of Health and Human Services has documented a rabid bat on the property.
REPTILE AND AMPHIBIAN HARVEST RESTRICTIONS:
The rule package also contains measures addressing the take of reptiles and amphibians in N.H.:
* Snapping turtles — In an effort to protect breeding females and very large turtles, size specifications would be set for the legal harvest of snapping turtles. Turtles could be legally taken only if they measure either less than 6 inches in total shell length, (i.e., for pets, or between 12 and 15 inches in length (i.e., for food). Any other size snapping turtle would be off limits.
* Reptiles – The rules would create a limit of two harvested reptiles for species allowed for possession by individuals.
* Amphibians – A limit of 5 harvested amphibians (frogs and salamanders) would be set for species allowed for possession by individuals.
FOR MORE DETAILS: The complete wildlife rulemaking notice, with original and proposed rule language for these proposals and a number of others, can be viewed at http://www.wildnh.com/Legislative/Notices_summary.htm (click on “Wildlife Rules”).
Written comments must be received by April 12, 2012. Send to: email@example.com (use subject line “Comments on Wildlife Rules”); or write to Executive Director, N.H. Fish and Game Department, 11 Hazen Drive, Concord, NH 03301; or fax to 603-271-1438.