Here is a great way to confuse tourists, on whose dollars New Hampshire depends: Subject them to traffic stops by New Hampshire Fish and Game conservation officers.
That sounds nonsensical, and it is. Yet enough legislators like the idea that a bill to give conservation officers the power to enforce traffic laws passed the Senate and is on this week’s House calendar.
Conservation officers receive the same police training as other law enforcement officers in the state. But upon being hired they are devoted — by law — to enforcing laws regarding wildlife. They are given a special mission, and there are not enough of them, according to the department. Fish and Game lost 15 positions in the current budget. It is funded by hunting and fishing license fees, not state tax revenue. Who will pay for conservation officers to ticket motorists? Who will pay to put lights and sirens on their green pickup trucks?
This mission creep is a bad idea. Let conservation officers patrol the vast forests and lakes of New Hampshire and leave the highways to the State Police and other general law enforcement officers.