Letter to the Editor: Snowshoe hares not dog training tools
Published in The Cabinet Press
April 16, 2021
Snowshoe hares are essential to many other species’ survival, including lynx, bobcat, and great horned owls. They also help with the development of the forest by what they eat. Because of this influence over other plants and animals, they are considered a keystone species. Every single one of these animals is important for a healthy ecosystem.
It would make sense that our Fish and Game Department (NHFG) would not allow a frivolous use of a NH keystone species. Unfortunately, that is not the case. NHFG implemented rule Fis 806.05 in 2007, enabling beagle dog clubs to cage capture NH’s wild snowshoe hares and relocate them to unfamiliar terrain to train their dogs. Most of this so-called training involves “field trials,” when many beagles are released on the hares and chase them. The owners of the best-performing dogs receive trophies and ribbons.
This rule also allows the clubs to breed the captured hares. The club’s yearly reports they are required to file show few to none hares in their possession from year to year. That a prolific breeder is not reproducing, and that few of the captured hares survive, signifies that something is wrong with the club’s care of these animals.
The NH Joint Legislative Committee on Administrative Rules (JLCAR) will be taking up an amendment to Fis 806.05 at its April 16, 2021, 9 am public hearing. Check the JLCAR website to attend the remote hearing. The Voices of Wildlife recommended to JLCAR that they object to this rule amendment so that NHFG considers Fis 806.05 for a total repeal.