Anti-hunters target New Hampshire rabbit hunters and their beagles

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By a vote of 18 to 1, the House Fish and Game and Marine Resources Committee of New Hampshire rescinded House Bill 1308 Tuesday. If passed, the bill would have “prohibited the capture, possession and propagation of hares and rabbits for hunting dog training and field trials”. New Hampshire Beagle Club trainers and members capture wild hares and rabbits for training. But supporters of the bill have countered that the removal of hares from their domestic habitat, as well as the methods of training them, are harmful and cruel. With the bipartisan vote, the bill is essentially dead because both political parties oppose it.

“I want to thank everyone from individuals to organizations who have helped to band together and take a stand for hunters, and in this case, men and women,” posted Highlands Project founder and resident of NH AJ DeRosa on his Instagram account. “I cannot express how important it was for the world of pointers and water hunters/retrievers to support the hunting community. The dogs became an ongoing first point of contact to begin banning our hunting dog traditions in legislation across the country. »

The bill was introduced Jan. 5 by Reps. Edith Tucker (D) and Dennis Thompson (R). He had the support of the anti-hunting group Voices of Wildlife in New Hampshirewho also advocated changes in state regulations for coyote hunting.

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Beagle trainers often use trapped live rabbits or hares to train slow but persistent dogs. Clubs use large paddocks of several dozen hectares for training, where dogs track hares or rabbits, trainers often combining old and young dogs during sessions. Field trial competitions can also be held with live hares or rabbits. New Hampshire Fish and Game issues permits allowing capture and use for training. Previously the New Hampshire Fish and Game Commission voted 10 to 1 against the bill. There is no legislative oversight, but the vote is a show of support for beagle clubs, trainers and hunters. The 11 members of the commission are appointed by the governor, one for each county in the state. No more than six commissioners can be members of the same political party.

New Hampshire Beagle Club President David Price told Project Upland that supporters of the bill ignore the training process. Trainers and field experimenters invest time and money in additional training sites, habitat and food, while meeting the myriad requirements of the national wildlife agency.

“I think some people think we take the hares into the pen, throw them out of the box and let the dogs put them down until they catch them and kill them,” Price said. “They think it’s like that; they don’t realize that our dogs run on scent. It’s very rare that they (dogs) set eyes on it unless they have a wide open space, but within seconds that hare was gone. I monitored my dogs weekly; a hare will run towards me, scratch its ear, nibble a bush, wait for the dogs to come closer and fly away. He’s not stressed at all; it has the advantage over my dogs who run at 8 or 9 mph.

Beagle clubs are supported by the Northeast Beagle Gundog Federation, which represents 40 beagle clubs in the region. New Hampshire has five beagle clubs. According to the Upland Projectthe federation says passing the bill would “essentially destroy these clubs, forcing them to close their doors to members and competitors. Closing these clubs would result in loss of tourism; loss of economic benefits to local economies and rural areas; loss of recreational opportunities and loss of important land conservation benefits.

“Supporters of House Bill 1308 cite cruelty and the failure of clubs to properly care for hares as reasons for banning the trapping and possession of hares and rabbits,“, continues the testimony. “Consider that the object of beagle training and field trials is to develop and promote the skill of trolling hares and rabbits, not to capture or kill them. Clubs are heavily invested in maintaining sufficient game populations on their grounds.Thousands of dollars are spent each year at these clubs to improve hare habitat….New Hampshire currently has more restrictive regulations regarding the trapping of hares and rabbits than any No other state No other state imposes a limit on the number of hares trapped and relocated or a requirement for veterinary inspection.

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Along with the Regional Gundog Federation, the bill has generated interest and opposition of the American Kennel Club and Congressional Athlete Caucuswho called the bill “a proxy attack on hunting and many other outdoor sporting activities.”

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