Letter: Stop unethical use of wildlife
Published in the Concord Monitor
Jan 8, 2022
I am writing in support of HB 1308, an act to prohibit capture, possession, and propagation of hares and rabbits for hunting dog training and field trials. I have worked as a wildlife biologist for several natural resource agencies and was a professor of wildlife ecology at UNH for 31 years and fully support managed hunting of hares. I have fond memories of participating in such hunts.
Decades ago, beagle clubs imported scores of live hares from Atlantic Canada to stock private club lands. That practice no longer occurs. Instead, beagle clubs rely on the trap-and-transfer of wild hares to club lands to train their hounds. Such actions are clearly an unethical treatment of wild hares. Putting aside nonsensical “slippery slope” arguments (e.g., This is the first step in ending hare hunting), the notion that use of captive wild hares to train hounds is a long-standing tradition is a weak defense. Bear hunters and game bird hunters train their dogs in the wild, hare hunters obviously could do the same.
Permits to capture specific animals are granted to university researchers and others to address questions that may improve survival of individual species. Permits to beagle clubs only address recreational interests of a small group of NH residents. There is no public benefit. So, why should beagle clubs be given special access? NH Fish and Game Department correctly opposes bringing wild animals into captivity for personal engagement. It should oppose the use of captive hares to train hounds.