Published DateTo the editor,
Good citizens of the State of New Hampshire and the sportsmen, if there are any left. There is a House bill that needs your support and it has to do with the issue of bait taking of deer. HB-258-FN prohibits the taking of deer from baited areas, Rep. Kidder, Merrimack-5, is the sponsor.
We used to have a proud tradition of when we pit intelligence against instinct; it was called hunting. What kind of culture have we become when we no longer have respect for our wildlife, allowing the placing of bait just to shoot down animals that have been habituated to bait sites? While at the same time we discourage our citizens from just plain feeding of the same for viewing and enjoyment? Bait sites are active from Sept. 1st through April 15th and year round for all the illegal sites. Let's not be naive about the fact there are a lot of them; large tract land owners take notice. The opposition to this bill comes from the N.H. Wildlife Federation, which is confusing hunting as a right instead of privilege, and the guides who are charging people money to shoot deer at bait sites and without a paper trail to prove how many deer are being taken at said sites. Nobody knows what this number is; I.R.S. take notice. We know that from 2005-2011, guides have accounted for 384 bear. If a guide charges $1,000 per bear that comes out to $384,000 and this a probably a low number. You can see the only interest the guides have in all of this fiscal. The tail that wags the dog. By the way none of this money goes back to the state or towns like as in a stump tax.
One more thing that landowners need to consider. If you allow someone to set up a bait site, two things happen. One, the area of the site becomes the private game reserve of the permittee. Only the permit holder and those allowed by said holder are allowed to hunt that area, closing it to all free-ranging hunters. Two, when the land owner signs the permit he enters into an agreement with the permit holder. Tort laws are to protect land owners against a civil suit. Well, if someone is killed or injured at that site, someone is going to be responsible, aren't they?
The Dept. of Fish & Game supports HB-258, as do I. The deer population is estimated at 85,000 with numerous seasons depending on how you hunt. In 2012, 870 bait permits were issued for deer. In 2012, 1,337 bait permits were issued for bear with two or more bait sites per permit. The estimated bear herd is 4,600 animals. The bear take for 2012 was 906: 426 bait, 282 still/stalkers, 98 hound — including 100 non-hunting deaths. We had a bill (SB-56) prohibiting the taking of bear from baited areas. Senator Forrester (Dist.-2) was the sponsor. The Dept. of Fish & Game did not support this bill. Shame on the department that talks of fair chase.
This is where I become confused. I do not understand the importance of protecting the 85,000 deer herd and crapping all over the bear herd. FYI. From 2005 to 2011, 87 half-year-olds have been taken using all methods (guides, hounds, bait, still), 22 over bait, 34 still, 8 hounds, 23 non-hunting. Two hundred twenty-six have been taken of unknown age, 19 over bait, 26 still, 6 with hounds and 175 non-hunting. We can safely assume that the majority of unknown age were 0.5-year-old cubs that the tooth pull was deemed unnecessary. It takes a real slob to shoot down a 30-40 pound cub. And also, 2005 to 2011, 168 lactating females were taken, 65 over bait, 34 with hounds, 58 still hunted, 11 non-hunted.
There are towns in this state that the only way bears are taken is over bait. Stewartstown is a prime example. From 2005 to 2011, out of the 75 bear taken, 74 were over bait, 9 were lactating, and 3 were cubs. Bethlehem, Bartlett, Campton, Clarksville, Colebrook, Columbia, Dalton, Pittsburg, Sanbornton, Stark, Stratford, Thornton, Warren, Waterville Valley, and Whitefield have all changed to taking bear over bait. You can bet that deer in those towns are also taken over bait. When someone tels you that we will lose a considerable amount of revenue from out of state sportsmen if we ban baiting, we already have because of it.
In 2011 we lost $40,994 in our of state license fees from the 2010 level. Shutting sportsmen our of towns who prefer traditional hunting that can't compete with all the bait sites, has already sent them packing.
Is this what we want to see happen in every town in the state? It's happening right before our eyes. If HB-258 fails then it's a shame on all of us.
The wildlife belongs to all of us. We all need to take the time to call or e-mail our reps. and senators that HB-258-FN needs to pass.
When you communicate with your rep. and senator, ask them why Fish & Game wouldn't support SB-56? Bet you don't get an answer, Senator Forrester didn't.