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Debating baiting
House wrangles over hunting practice

02/26/15



Two bills that would override a New Hampshire Fish and Game rule on how hunters bait animals are being debated in the House.

State Rep. David Kidder, R-New London, who chairs the House Fish and Game Committee, said the battle over baiting goes back to 2007, when he introduced a bill to ban the practice, which involves setting out foods like grains and apples and shooting the animal when it comes to eat the bait. 
Last year, a compromise was reached, and the issue of baiting was handed over to Fish and Game Director Glenn Normandeau, who decides where (since, for example, the deer population may be greater in the south and more sparse in the north) and for how long in a season hunters can bait. 
“That seems to be working. And it seems to me [that there is] absolutely no reason to change it. To try to change it now is a little ingenuous on the part of the sponsor of the bill,” Kidder said, adding that he thinks a few more years should be given to Fish and Game for setting the rules. “[Normandeau] needs to have that flexibility to manage the herd appropriately.”
State Rep. John Burt, R-Goffstown, introduced the new non-partisan legislation. He argued that before 2014, hunters were always allowed to bait for deer for the full hunting season. He said a lot of people with disabilities use this tactic too.
“It’s still hard to get a deer over bait,” Burt said. “It’s not as easy as it sounds. Deer are smart.”
Burt said that currently deer baiting is legal for the full season in zoned areas, but up north it’s limited to about 30 out of 90 days. He said it could take a month or more before deer start coming to the bait, so hunters need more than just the 30-day window.
“What this [bill] is going to do is force Fish and Game to bring deer baiting back,” Burt said, noting the only thing being added back to the existing law is about 60 days in which one can bait.
In another bill, which Burt thinks may have a better chance of passing if this one fails, would allow disabled people to bait. He said he has a constituent with no fingers who hunts with a bow and is unable to walk out into the woods. This would level the playing field, Burt said.
“The biggest reason I’m doing this is for the hunters asking me, [and] the disabled people,” Burt said. 
Kidder also opposes the bill aimed at people with disabilities. 
“We have to come up with a definition of disability — something more than just a note from your doctor. I will be against it until we come up with a better definition,” Kidder said.
Burt also noted that Fish and Game is $3.5 million in the red, and with limited baiting it pushes away hunters to whom it doles out about 500 permits to bait.
“There’s a lot of money there, and I don’t understand why Fish and Game wants to shoot themselves in the foot,” Burt said.
Burt said there is no record to support that there is a smaller deer herd because of baiting.
The Fish and Game Commission recently voted to oppose both bills, said Evan Mulholland, legal coordinator for Fish and Game. He said a lot of public hearings were held to get the law to where it is now, and the rule-making should stay with Fish and Game.
“They don’t really see the need yet, or at all, to revisit it,” Mulholland said.
Kidder, a hunter himself, said there’s also the issue of fair chase. 
“That’s not hunting — that’s killing. It takes all the sport out of it,” Kidder said. 
 
As seen in the February 26, 2015 issue of the Hippo.





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