Concord Monitor (NH) online 4/16/16 at

http://concordmonitor.com/News/State/animal-welfare-activists-protest-fish-and-game-event-1584730

Local activists protest fur trapping at annual N.H. Fish and Game event

  • Animal-rights activists protest fur trapping in Concord on Saturday morning. Ella Nilsen / Monitor staff

By Ella Nilsen
Monitor staff

Saturday, April 16, 2016

As cars streamed into the annual Discover WILD New Hampshire Day at Fish and Game headquarters on Hazen Drive, they were greeted by about a dozen animal-rights activists protesting at the entrance.

Holding signs emblazoned with slogans like “Cruel trapping” and “Traps maim,” the activists were fresh off a recent victory, as the Fish and Game Department withdrew its plans for a bobcat hunting and trapping season earlier this week. The reversal came after months of public outcry, which only intensified after commissioners voted to allow the season to go forward in February.

The protestors said that while they were happy with the decision to stop this year’s bobcat hunt, they wanted to remind people that other animals can still be trapped and killed.

“We’re not against the animals, we’re for the animals” said Julia Sinclair of the organizations New Hampshire Animal Rights League and Voices of Wildlife in New Hampshire

Sinclair and her fellow activists said they wanted to raise awareness about trapping the state’s animals.

“Animals need their fur, we don’t,” said Laura Saint Cyr of Voice of Wildlife.

The protestors said they are big proponents of Fish and Game’s nongame programs and said they encourage their members to support the programs that don’t involve hunting or trapping.

Inside the gates of the Discover Wild event, the New Hampshire Trappers Association ran one of the first booths. Students patted the pelts of the state’s various animals as trappers quizzed them on facts about the animals and their natural habitats.

“It’s a lot of education,” association President Paul DeBow said. “We answer a lot of questions about biology.”

The kids weren’t the only visitors with questions. DeBow said he had been getting a few queries and comments about the recent bobcat decision throughout the day.

“We’ve been overhearing some folks,” he said, adding that a lot of the hunters he’d talked to thought the bobcat hunt is a done deal and weren’t aware of the reversal.

DeBow reiterated his organization’s position that hunting and trapping is a good way to control populations of wildlife in the state if they start to grow.

“It’s good to manage these animals with hunting and trapping,” he said.

While the protesters at the gates were happy about the recent reversal, they also said they want New Hampshire Fish and Game to listen to the public more closely in the future and added they were dismayed with the commission’s past decision to pursue a bobcat hunt, even after public hearings packed with trapping detractors.

“I’m hoping New Hampshire thinks about re-evaluating the power Fish and Game has,” Sinclair said, adding she would like to see nonhunters and trappers take a few spots on the commission. “It’s very frustrating to be a member of the public that’s not listened to.”

(Ella Nilsen can be reached at 369-3322, enilsen@cmonitor.com or on Twitter @ella_nilsen.)