Public Hearings Set for Proposed Hunting Season Rule Changes

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Proposed rule changes affecting wildlife and wildlife management in New Hampshire for 2006 and 2007 will be the topic of a series of public hearings being held by the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department on the following dates and locations:

Monday, April 3, 2006, 6:30 p.m. -- North Country Resource Center, 629B Main Street, Lancaster, N.H.

Tuesday, April 4, 2006, 6:30 p.m. -- Keene High School (please note -- this is a change from the usual middle school location), 43 Arch Street, Keene, N.H.

Wednesday, April 5, 2006, 6:30 p.m. -- N.H. Fish and Game Department Headquarters 11 Hazen Drive, Concord, N.H.

"The proposed changes support Fish and Game's long-range Big Game Management goals," said Mark Ellingwood, a wildlife biologist with the Fish and Game Department. Completed last year after ten months of effort by a diverse public working group, the Department's Big Game Management Plan was developed to guide deer, moose, bear and turkey management through the next decade (2006-2015). 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 as specified in the Big Game Plan. This year, 2006, is a season-setting year and begins implementation of this plan.

Among other topics, the rule proposals would:

* Change season dates for taking deer during the regular, muzzleloader and archery seasons (changes include reducing the length of the regular deer and archery seasons in WMU A).

* Increase the number of Special Unit M antlerless-only deer permits (to 5,500; up from 3,250). This change reflects a long-term objective to reduce deer numbers in this urbanized area of the state.

* Increase the number of moose permits issued statewide, from 525 in 2005 to 705 in 2006-2007, and adjust the allocation of those permits in the Wildlife Management Units. A significant portion of the increase results from the Big Game Management Plan's objective to decrease the moose population in the Connecticut Lakes region, initially by 13% over two to three years.

* Modify the dates and length of bear hunting seasons in different bear management regions.

* Establish a new permit, fee and requirements for taking turkey in a new 5-day fall shotgun season in WMUs D1, D2, H1, H2, I1, I2, K (the current fall turkey season is archery-only); eliminate the maximum width for broadheads used to take turkeys; establish a short turkey season in WMU A; and extend the time allowed to register a turkey from 12 to 24 hours.

* Change the furbearer rules to designate areas by WMUs instead of by county; consolidate some rules for species that have similar seasons; readopt the rule regarding fisher seasons in order to take comments on fisher bag limits; and establish a season for coyote trapping.

* Require trappers and wildlife control operators to have held a trapping or wildlife control operator license for 3 years since 2000 before taking the snaring course.

* Combine and standardize rules associated with wildlife baiting.

Hunters, trappers and other interested constituents are encouraged to attend the hearings and offer their input on these and other changes in the proposed rules. Public input is considered during the formulation of final department proposals.

To view the complete rulemaking notice form, with original and proposed rule language, click here and on "Wildlife Rules".

Written comments must be received by April 25, 2006. Send to: [email protected] (subject line should be "Comments on Wildlife Rules"); or Executive Director, N.H. Fish and Game Department, 11 Hazen Drive, Concord, NH 03301; or fax to (603) 271-1438.

The New Hampshire Fish and Game Department is the guardian of the state's fish, wildlife and marine resources and their habitats.