NHFC Statement on New Hampshire Fish & Game

The New Hampshire Firearms Coalition stands for one, and only one issue: The Right to Keep and Bear Arms as protected by the Second Amendment to the US Constitution and Article 2a of the New Hampshire Constitution.  Sadly, the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department is an agency within state government that actively opposes the civil right to be armed.

The Fish and Game Department has consistently opposed constitutional carry and opposes repeal of the prohibition on loaded rifles and shotguns in vehicles.  We have received numerous reports from our members that conservation officers are telling people if they are caught in the woods with a firearm without a hunting license, that is prima facia evidence of poaching.  If a person is found in the woods, carrying a firearm during non hunting season that is also prima facia evidence of poaching.  In our opinion, law abiding citizens have a Second Amendment right to carry firearms openly or concealed anywhere, anytime, anyplace on any day of the year for any reason or no reason at all.  There is no Constitutional right to hunt.

Attorney General Gordon MacDonald issued a written opinion that said in part, that lobbying the legislature on issues that do not affect fish, game, wildlife or marine resources was not authorized by statute:
https://www.nhfc-ontarget.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/06/Memo-to-Gov-Council-re-Review-of-Legislation-by-Fish-and-Game..pdf

Sadly, the Fish and Game Department uses the equivalent of slave labor to “teach” so called hunter education courses.  The maximum fee an instructor may charge a participant is $5.  Essentially, instructors are expected to teach for free.  Through our right to know requests, we have learned that for every hour that a Hunter Education Instructor teaches, the Fish and Game Department receives $25.89 in Federal Gun Tax money.  Furthermore, if instructors properly document their mileage from home to the teaching location, the department receives 53.5 cents per mile.  This money comes from the Pittman – Robertson tax on firearms and ammunition.  Most gun owners do not even know they are paying this tax because it is paid at the wholesale level by manufacturers so it does not show up on a retail receipt.  The majority of firearms purchased in New Hampshire are not suitable for or even used for hunting.  Thus, non hunters are being forced to underwrite the operations of an anti-gun agency to the tune of several hundred thousands of dollars per year. So, why, you may ask is this a bad thing?  Why is the New Hampshire Firearms Coalition concerned about this?

It is a bad thing for several reasons.  First, in states that require a training course to obtain a concealed carry license, such as Connecticut, Massachusetts, Maine, Florida and Virginia, the instructor is free to charge any amount.  (As far as we know, in all states that require training the instructor may charge any amount.)   In New Hampshire, Hunter Education is a requirement to purchase a hunting license, thus, if there is value to the training, students should pay a realistic fee for receiving the training.  Second, If a student selects Fish and Game’s Online training course that charge is $29.00.  Close to 6 times what an instructor may charge.  Maybe the hunter education requirement should be repealed.  Maybe the free market should set the course fee.

A good example of the financial mismanagement within the department is the sale of so called “hike safe cards”.  If a hiker purchases a card and gets lost, Fish and Game will “rescue” said hiker at no cost.  They will do the same for the holder of a hunting or fishing license.  The core constituency of Fish and Game are hunters and fishers.  Yet, the cost of hike safe card is $25 (resident or non resident).  A resident hunting license is $32 and a resident fishing license is $45 with non residents paying $113 and $63 respectively.  Clearly, hunters, fishers and gun owners fund the department through higher fees and taxes of firearms and ammunition, but hikers are given a substantial discount even though the cost to rescue a lost or injured hiker can run into the tens of thousands of dollars.  This is just bad business.

Administrative Rules
http://www.gencourt.state.nh.us/rules/state_agencies/fis300.html

Contained in the agency’s administrative rules is:

“If requested by the department, any person taking a deer shall take fish and game personnel back to the kill site, the site of carcass evisceration, or both, for purposes such as, but not limited to, verification of kill site or to obtain ovaries or other biological samples left behind.”

This rule is clearly violative of the Fifth Amendment right against self incrimination.  It is routinely abused by Conservation Officers. NHFC created a webpage to post some stories about the worst civil liberties violations:
https://www.nhfc-ontarget.org/abuses-by-the-nh-fish-and-game-dept/

Conservation Officers regularly look at deer and turkey registration tags and if they think a hunter has violated a law or rule, they make a home visit to try and force a confession.  They ignore fourth and fifth amendment protections and use the threat of arrest for even the lowest level offenses as a tool to make people admit wrongdoing.  State laws allow Conservation  Officers to arrest using a far, far lower burden of proof than a local police officer or a State Trooper.  This must be changed.  Here at the New Hampshire Firearms Coalition, we strongly believe in the American Justice System and its core tenet of “innocent until proven guilty”.   Conservation Officers seem to think that folks are guilty until proven innocent.

The New Hampshire Fish and Game Department is in desperate need of management changes (to stop the loss of money) and reform in its law enforcement division (to stop the civil rights violations) and a change in the commission (to stop the opposition to pro-gun reform bills and to properly supervise management and law enforcement).  The New Hampshire Firearms Coalition is on record as supporting SB 48 because it will force a study of the department and recommend necessary changes.  Changes that will hopefully stop the anti-gun activism within the department and commission.  SB 48 is a study bill, that is all, it will not change anything on its own.  Yet, many hunters reflexively oppose any study of the department at all.  That is a short sighted mindset.  We will work with and cooperate with anyone who shares our goal of changing the structure of Fish and Game to stop the anti-gun activism and civil liberties violations.

See this:
http://www.nhwildlifecoalition.org/index.php/funding-n-h-fish-and-game/

As a final point of information, you might be interested to know that several NHFC Directors purchase hunting and or fishing licenses and Alan Rice, NHFC President, has held a resident lifetime New Hampshire hunting and fishing combination license since 2001.