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Fish & Game says not to feed bears, so why is baiting still allowed?

  • Published in Letters

To The Daily Sun,

In the last number of months Andrew Timmins, bear biologist for the N.H. Dept. of Fish and Game, has put out press releases on bear feeding across the state and that it is selfish and that intentional feeding puts the bear in harms way. That it is in violation to feed bears with up to a $1,000. fine. That the citizens are "loving the animals to death." A fed bear is a dead bear has been the battle cry with F&G for the last 10 years, pointing the finger at the citizens of the state.

In 2006 Fish and Game circumvented the legislative process of our government and went to JLCAR (Joint Legislative Committee on Administrative Rules) and regulated the people of the state with Fish and Game regulation FIS:310.01, the intentional feeding of bears.

First let me state this, F&G's responsibility is to safeguard our natural resources with hunting, fishing and trapping regulations. This doesn't give them the authority to regulate the citizens of the state, and that is exactly what the are doing. Second, JLCAR is not the fourth form of government.

Mr. Timmins wants you to clean up your act by taking down your bird feeders, put up electric fencing around chickens, put grain and garbage in secure containers and just stop luring bears with handouts. This all seems reasonable for responsible people to do and it's not much to ask. Mr. Timmins wants to see an end to mothers with cubs from being killed over all this.

What Mr. Timmins has left out in his press releases is the fact that bear baiting as sport has been going on and on and on. This is the rest of the story.

From 2005-2013, 8,878 free bait permits for bear, 3,987 free bait permits for deer (2008-2013) and 2,181 free bait permits for other species (2008-2013), that adds up to 15,046 permits issued with two sites per permit, equaling 30,092 bait sites set up in New Hampshire. in the last nine years. Habituating wildlife to bait sites is not a sport, it is not hunting, it is called shopping. Mr. Timmins is right on when he states that habituated to human environments and dependent on human-related foods has severe, and often fatal effects on the animal.

From 2005-2013 2,454 bears have been killed with baiting. Of that total number, 409 were cubs, 216 were lactating females 2005-2013 (This is a low number, a permit is not required to bait on your own land if the intent to kill the animal). Rest assured that feeding on your own is against the law if the intent is observation. The number of bears killed because of intentional feeding is non-existent in that timeframe. The Department of Fish and Game needs a name change — perhaps the Dept. of "Do As I Say Not As I Do" would be more appropriate.
Mr. Timmins, before you go on telling the citizens of the state to clean up their act, the time has come for the department to clean up theirs. The Dept. of F&G circumvented the system of government on the people. Perhaps it is time for the governor to execute an executive order to end baiting of bear and deer in this state. The governor has that power.

Eric Rottenecker