Snowshoe hares are critical

To the Editor: 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 the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department not allow a frivolous use of our keystone species. Unfortunately, that is not the case. Fish and Game implemented rule Fis 806.05 in 2007, enabling beagle dog clubs to capture 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.

This rule also allows the clubs to breed the captured hares. The yearly reports that clubs are required to file show few to no 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 New Hampshire Joint Legislative Committee on Administrative Rules (JLCAR) will be taking up an amendment to Fis 806.05 at its April 16, 2021, 9 a.m. 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 Fish and Game considers Fis 806.05 for a total repeal.



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