By jeff, Mar 24 2017 03:44AM
On March 28th 2017 (this coming Tuesday), the NH House Fish & Game Committee will be hearing public testimony on Senate Bill 48. The text of the bill can be read by clicking HERE, but to summarize, SB48 seeks to establish a “study committee” to begin looking into overhauling the management and policy making structure of NH Fish & Game (NHFG). This includes the removal of the Fish & Game Commission – a board of individuals serving as “checks and balances” for hunting, fishing, and trapping laws. You can read my previous synopsis on Senate Bill 48 HERE.
The bill is being driven by a coalition group, whose members have a history of anti-hunting ideology.
This “coalition” developed pie charts and supposed “breakdowns” of NH Fish & Game’s funding which appears completely inaccurate. This misleading rhetoric is the soapbox for which this group is now claiming demonstrates hunting and fishing in NH as “niche” activities, incapable of funding the department. You can view their information HERE.
I’ve been really trying to pick through this Coalition's logic for the figures they’re coming up with. Their whole accounting pie chart is about as identifiable as parts of a frog in a blender - all whipped up so that no one can really make any sense of it whatsoever. But, hey - It comes with a really cool official looking bibliography.
They completely omit Pittman-Roberts wildlife restoration, and Dingell-Johnson sport fisheries restoration funding - Based upon (according to their sources) the incredulous accounting of an anti-hunting group, "Nevadans for Responsible Wildlife Management" (NRWM), as well as a 2011 "Boating Survey" which relies on a “3% return” of ALL 118 million households in the USA answering to the question, "Did anyone in your household fish from a boat last year?" 16% said YES, which seems to lead this “genius synopsis” to the conclusion that 84% of Dingell-Johnson funds somehow don't apply to "fishing" - so it isn't counted in their math.
It also suggests "handgun" taxes don't count either. (I assume because no one at PETA hunts with a handgun) Which reduces the supposedly "ACTUAL" Federal appropriation from 33% to only 8%.
Senate Bill 48’s text also references a performance audit of Fish & Game from 2007, which concludes that only 16 percent of NH residents hunt or fish, and that 65 percent enjoy “watching” wildlife.
Let it be known - as is, the wildlife that “all residents” enjoy is currently funded by the 16 percent (the sportsmen). Of Fish & Game funding, license fees and federal excise tax on sporting goods make up 66 percent of the "total" budget, and more than cover the associated costs of managing “Fish” and “Game”. It should be noted ATV and snowmobile registrations pay more than their fair share as well. Historically, the sportsmen of NH have paid the entire expense of operating NHF&G. Of the current 29 million dollar budget, the State general fund chips in a paltry 600,000 dollars. NH sportsmen are paying 66% of the entire department, and all it's programs, above and beyond that which covers the cost of their vested interest – the “fish” and “game”.
To back all this up, during the Senate hearing of SB48, NHFG Director Glen Normandeau was heard testifying that NH Sportsmen (hunters, anglers, trappers) fund two-thirds of the Department. It should also be noted that at no time, has any of the small amount of “general funds” (which supporters of SB48 claim to be grounds for overhauling) EVER been attributed to game management. This funding still falls completely on the shoulders of NH's sportsmen.
If the supporters of SB48 want to make this a numbers game, we can certainly go there. While educating legislators and others about the three-ring-circus that has become SB48, it's important to keep the above-mentioned points in mind. The house of cards these groups are stacking for the public and politicians doesn't really hold any merit under the magnifying glass, and everyone needs to be made aware of it. Furthermore, it begs the question, with regard to the to-be-determined members of SB48’s “study committee”, do we really want folks who can't even get their facts straight in charge of wildlife management decisions in the future?
Senate Bill 48 also suffers from poor writing and drafting, and does not define in detail many of the requirements and tasks for the potential committee. This lack of definition leaves the bill open to interpretation based on whoever reads it – thus opening the door for unintended consequences.
You are encouraged to contact the members of the NH Fish and Game House Committee (found HERE) and inform them that Senate Bill 48 reeks of shenanigans. Those who’ve been paying the bulk of wildlife conservation and management seem to be getting the short end of the stick on this one. You are also encouraged to attend the hearing on March 28th – located in rooms 305-307 in the Legislative Office Building (just West and across the street from the gold dome State House in Concord, NH). If you can’t attend, please be sure to reach out to the House Committee members AS WELL as your local representatives (whom can be found HERE) and tell them you oppose Senate Bill 48. If using email, use the subject line “Relative to Senate Bill 48”.