Deception of the NH Fish & Game Dept. and House Committee
It is without a doubt that NH hunters and anglers have contributed to wildlife conservation. It is also without a doubt that efforts of the Fish and Game Dept benefit us all. Additionally, Fish and Game Commissioners and our House Representatives, who set laws and rules regarding our state's wildlife, have a broad range of knowledge, expertise, and carry the heavy weight of the high moral standards that are expected of them. For this hard work, NH citizens are truly grateful.
However, these acknowledgments do not negate the fact that NH residents have evolved. Several non-hunting organizations have contributed to conservation. And residents have developed a new appreciation for wildlife and are becoming more and more involved with non-hunting activities and the legislative process regarding such matters.
Although we cannot expect perfection, we can demand the truth from our state's leaders, proper representation, and hold them accountable for their actions. Unfortunately, it has come to light that some of our leaders have not held up to these standards.
During a NH Public Radio interview on May 22nd(1), Fish and Game (F&G) Dept Executive Director Glenn Normandeau acknowledged that all residents have a stake in NH wildlife, however, iterated that hunters and anglers have provided most of the funding for wildlife conservation. During one of those instances, he stated, "...we get around $7.5mil in PR and DJ funds, which is a federal trust fund which come on an excise taxes on hunting and fishing equipment. So again, the sportsmen are actually, you know, paying that money into the federal government and it’s coming back to the states", which came as no surprise to many residents.
However, what is surprising, is that Director Normandeau spoke at a F&G Commission meeting, before that radio interview on April 12th(2), and according to the meeting minutes, "He reported that there are more Pittman Robertson monies coming from firearm & ammunition sales to non-hunters than hunters."
"He reported that there are more Pittman Robertson monies coming from firearm & ammunition sales to non-hunters than hunters."
The Wildlife Restoration Act, AKA the Pittman-Robertson Act (PR), is a program that provides federal aid to the F&G Dept from federal excise taxes on guns, ammunition and archery equipment.
The Sport Fishery Restoration Program, AKA the Dingell-Johnson Act (DJ), also provides federal aid via excise taxes on fishing equipment, motorboats, and boat fuel.
When considering these two federal funding programs and applying logic, it makes sense that more funds would come from non-hunters/non-anglers, as not all boat owners are anglers, just as not all those who own guns are hunters.
The information Normandeau was referring to at the April Commission meeting was obtained from a presentation at the 2017 Fish & Wildlife Business Summit in Georgia on April 3-4.(3) Among those presentations was a Firearms Consumer Segmentation Report, which includes segmentation analysis conducted by the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) and Southwick Associates (SW).
The full report must be purchased for a whopping $3,500. However, summaries of that report were released, one which shows motivational categories and the type of clients that purchase firearms based on those motivations. For instance, an NSSF/SW segmentation infographic(4) shows two top motivators for gun purchasers;
1. To Be Proficient With Firearms
In this category, 86% are Skills Builders, 10% are Hunters.
2. To Have Fun With Family and Friends
In this category, 73% are Social Shooters, 17% are Hunters.
Now, if the motivation was hunting, then of course, hunters would make-up 100% of that category. However, considering the small percentage of hunters as opposed to non-hunters in NH and throughout the country, clearly that motivational category is a much smaller percentage overall.
Not only do more self-defense, target shooters, and social shooters purchase firearms than hunters, but social shooters spend more money per gun. As one of the segmentation summaries shows, social shooters spend 40% more on a firearm than hunters.(5)
According to the NSSF/SW First Time Firearms Buyers Segmentation, 9% of the US public very likely to buy a gun within the next five years are Aspiring Hunters. 14% are "Learners”, those with a goal to become more proficient with firearms. The report indicates that “Learners” are "not highly interested in hunting" and "0% hunt on a regular basis."(6)
The highest segmentation shown on the report at 22% of US firearms buyers are "Anxious Buyers", those who desire to "buy a firearm before it's too late", also have "little interest in hunting and target shooting" and "only one percent hunt regularly.(6)
So why the acknowledgment that federal funding provided by the PR is mostly attributed to non-hunters during a scarcely publicized meeting, yet a complete disregard for it on public radio?
Not only a disregard of the facts, but Normandeau's words further contribute to the misconception that hunters are the primary financial contributors to wildlife conservation. This might be a common misconception among the general public, but it is not by the F&G Dept nor our F&G legislative leaders.
The hands of the NH House Fish and Game and Marine Resources Committee members are not clean regarding this matter either. "Wildlife Management Funding in the US," a report published in 2014, contended that approximately 95% of federal funding (such as from PR and DJ) for wildlife conservation and management come from the non-hunting public.(7)
It is a certainty that the NH House F&G Committee is aware of that report, as I personally attached it to my written testimony submitted to that committee during the public hearing for SB 48 on March 28th and also referred to the report during my verbal testimony on the same day.
SB 48, a bill that would establish a committee to complete a review of the governance, structure, and financial stability of the F&G Dept., passed the NH Senate unanimously, yet was voted against by the House F&G Committee on Oct. 10, 2017. The survival of the vital bill will now be determined by the full house on January 9th 2018.
One of the primary arguments as to why the House F&G Committee didn't pass SB 48, was that the structure of the F&G Dept does not need to be changed, certainly not in any way that better represents non-hunters, because they claimed hunters are the primary financial contributors to the Dept. That argument is clearly unjustifiable.
House F&G Committee member Rep. James Spillane (Rockingham - District 02), who struggles with the high moral standards demanded upon our representatives and who was arrested and charged with his second DWI this past May, spoke out very strongly in opposition to bills that would restructure the F&G Dept.
During a public hearing on January 24th, House Rep. Spillane and Theodore Tichy, Chairman of F&G Commission, blatantly agreed, "..that there might be the need to biased towards the hunters and fishers who are actually paying for the Fish and Game..."
Not only does this prove there is a biased toward NH hunters and anglers among our House Representatives and F&G Commissioners, who should be representing all NH residents equally, but that their bias is based on false information.
House F&G Committee member Rep. John Klose (Merrimack- District 21), who also has difficulty demonstrating strong ethics, has been known to submit sneaky non-germane amendments and speak over residents while testifying. While providing verbal testimony during the hearing on March 28th, and referring to a NH Law which requires that F&G Commissioners are nominated from 'sporting clubs,' he crudely interrupted the testimony with the statement, "That's not true."
Not only was his interruption disrespectful, but it was also a lie, as that law can be read in black and white under NH's Revised Statutes Annotated 206:2.(8)
NH law requires all F&G Commissioners (those with the power to create laws regarding wildlife) carry a hunting or fishing license(9) and are nominated by 'sporting clubs'(8), which prevents balanced representation for residents that are not hunters or anglers. During the same hearing on March 28th, House F&G Committee member Rep. Raymond Howard (Belknap- District 08), implied that non-hunting/non-fishing residents should skirt those laws by obtaining a fishing license against their beliefs, in a deceptive attempt to be nominated by a sporting club and become a commissioner.
The question is, why would a House Representative recommend such dishonorable actions as to manipulate the current law, as opposed to solving the root of the problem as a legislator and propose an appropriate amendment to the law? Would our state representatives rather lie and work around laws then do the work that they have sworn to do?
“[The name Fish & Game] Resonates with our traditional folks and they want to keep it that way ... I’m not sure if that’s a battle I’m ready to deal with.”
When asked if the Fish and Game should change their name to better reflect all aspects of the Dept (such as Fish and Wildlife Dept), during the NH Public Radio interview, Director Normandeau did not deny that it should be done. He simply stated that the name F&G resonates with NH's traditional folks who want to keep it that way and it was a battle that he's not sure he's ready to deal with.(10)
It seems that our wildlife leaders and legislative representatives rather prevent ruffling some feathers than put in the necessary work which will allow the Fish and Game to evolve, better represent the people of NH and for the Department's overall stability and survival.
SB 48 is scheduled to be voted on by the full House of Representatives on Tues., January 9th. The question is, will our representatives start acknowledging the facts and do what is right? Not only will the answer impact the life of SB 48 and the F&G Dept, but of all Granite Staters, and only time will tell.
Click here and go to the 'What Can I Do' Section to learn how to support SB 48 before January 9th, 2018.
(1) NH Public Radio Interview with Fish and Game Executive Director, Glenn Normandeau, May 22, 2017 (at 22:08): http://nhpr.org/post/new-hampshire-fish-games-glenn-normandeau-rising-number-rescues-gun-politics-new-tv-show#stream/0
(2) Fish and Game Commission Meeting Minutes, April 12, 2017: http://www.wildlife.state.nh.us/about/documents/comm/2017/minutes-04122017.pdf
(3) Fish and Wildlife Business Summitt, August 2018
(4) SW-NSSF-Segment-report-infographic; The Importance of Segmenting Firearm Owners: http://www.southwickassociates.com/importance-of-segmenting-firearm-owners/
(5) NSSF’s Consumer Segmentation Insights, Feb 2017 (Pg 2): http://www.southwickassociates.com/wp-content/uploads/downloads/2017/02/SHOTShow-_Segmentation_SA-Flyer-2.pdf
(6) NSSF/SW First Time Firearms Buyers Segmentation: http://www.southwickassociates.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/NSSF-First-Time-Firearm-Buyers-Segmentation-Summary-1-6-17.pdf
(7) Wildlife Conservation & Management Funding in the US, Mark E. Smith & Donald A. Molde: http://www.nrwm.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/Smith-Molde-Wildlife-Funding-spreadsheet-Rev-F2-19Jun15.pdf
(8) NH RSA 206:2, Appointment of Commission
(9) NH RSA 206:2-a, Qualifications of Commissioners
(10) NH Public Radio Interview with Fish and Game Executive Director, Glenn Normandeau, May 22, 2017 (at 03:00): https://cpa.ds.npr.org/nhpr/audio/2017/05/theexchangeshow_20170523_08-59-30.mp3