NH House Gets 2nd Chance To Protect Wildlife & Residents From Egregious Acts Of Violence
"There is compelling evidence of a link between animal cruelty and human violence, including child abuse, spousal abuse and other types of criminal violence."
-David Goldstein, Franklin NH Chief of Police
Public Hearing, Jan 24, 2017
On January 24, 2017, a public hearing was held in front of the House Fish and Game and Marine Resources Committee to discuss a bill (HB 381-FN) which would help safeguard NH's wildlife and residents from egregious acts of violence.
Despite the fact that not one individual who testified disagreed with the intent of that bill, including two NH police chiefs, Legislative Rules Coordinator of the NH Fish and Game Dept, numerous residents and other stakeholders, the House Fish and Game and Marine Resources Committee voted 12-9 in opposition of it.
That decision failed to represent the residents and stakeholders of the Granite State adequately, but that same Committee now has the opportunity to rectify that with HB 1412-FN.
What Is HB 1412-FN?
In NH, an individual could maliciously light a turtle on fire or intentionally sever the ears off a live racoon without consequence, as current law (RSA 644:8) includes protection for a "domestic animal, a household pet, or a wild animal in captivity" only. HB 1412 is a bill that would rectify that loophole by broadening that protection to include non-captive wild animals.
What is Non-Captive Wildlife?
Domestic and household pets are horses, farm animals, dogs, cats, etc. Captive wildlife, are wild animals that are lawfully in the custody of a permitted owner, such as a zoo, fair or sanctuary. Simply speaking, non-captive wildlife is any native wild animal not included in those categories, that is freely roaming our state.
NH is 1 Out of Only 5 States That Do Not Protect Non-Captive Wild Animals
Forty-five states in the US have laws similar to, or exactly like those proposed in HB 1412 currently in effect, including those who very actively partake in hunting and trapping activity, such as Maine.
Does HB 1412 Effect Hunters/Trappers/Anglers?
No. HB 1412 (III-b.b) explicitly excludes any authorized activity under Title XVIII, which includes the entire NH Fish and Game Code. That includes all hunting, trapping, hounding, baiting, fishing, as well as the bait used for fishing, etc.
Does HB 1412 Prevent Removal of Nuisance Animals?
No. RSA 210:24-b: Under Title XVIII, this law grants the Fish and Game authority over how nuisance animals are handled in NH. Again, Title XVIII is excluded from HB 1412.
RSA 644:16: Grants NH residents the right to use poison for the destruction of rats or other vermin in their own home or upon their crops. And of course, a law enforcement officer is not going to arrest a resident for removing small vermin, such as mice from their home.
Does HB 1412 Prevent Residents From Protecting Crops or Humans?
No. RSA 207:22-C III.a: "The executive director shall adopt rules, pursuant to RSA 541-A, regulating the issuance of depredation permits to kill animals causing damage to commercial crops or which pose a threat to human health and safety." That law is written in Title XVIII, which again, is completely excluded from HB 1412.
Doesn't the Fish and Game Already Lawfully Protect Wild Animals?
Not entirely. Certain animals are protected under NH Law and Fish and Game Rules, such as endangered/threatened species, and those with specific or permitted seasons only, such as moose. However, animals that do not fall under those categories are not lawfully protected.
For example, on January 24th, 2017, Maria Colby, a licensed wildlife rehabilitator from Wings of the Dawn Bird Sanctuary, testified that a skunk had been put in a trap while fireworks were being exploded in the trap, in Claremont NH. In the state of Maine, individuals that commit such acts of violence could be prosecuted, as they have laws protecting non-captive wild animals. Unfortunately, that is not the case in NH.
In a study of 36 convicted multiple murderers, 47% of them admitted to committing acts of animal torture.
HB 1412 Would Also Protect NH Residents
During the aforementioned public hearing, David Goldstein, Franklin NH Chief of Police, shared that the links between animal cruelty and acts of violence against people have become so evident that the FBI began tracking such cases nationally in 2016. He also noted that in a study of 36 convicted multiple murderers, 47% of them admitted to committing acts of animal torture.
HB 1412 would help deter cruelty to wildlife and allow the state to bring those to justice that do commit such acts of violence, while also preventing those criminals from harming NH residents.
Although legislation should be based on its merits, last year's non-captive wildlife bill (HB 381) faced opposition due to judgements regarding who was supporting it and fear of 'slippery slope' claims.
Theodore Tichy, Chair of the F&G Commission, regarding HB 381 stated, "...We strongly feel, knowing the background of some of the organizations supporting this bill, that this is too easy of a way to go through the backdoor, so to speak, to get anti-trapping, anti-hunting, anti-fishing, regulations..."
Not one member of House Fish and Game and Marine Resources Committee stated they disagreed with the intent of HB 381. Some committee members asserted their opposition was due to necessary language revisions. However, rather than retain the bill to amend the wording, they voted to kill it.
The Bottom Line
The introduction of HB 1412 was unexpected, considering HB 381 was so similar and just voted on last season, but it is not surprising. The intent of HB 1412 has already been proven to be immensely supported. NH law currently allows egregious acts of cruelty against wildlife, which are also tied to violent acts against humans, to go undeterred and unpunished. We can only hope that along with this second chance will come the implementation of this essential law, for the safeguard of NH's wildlife, and residents alike.
1. Attend The Public Hearing
A public hearing will be held in front of the House Fish and Game and Marine Resources Committee. The committee will hear verbal testimony and collect written testimony from NH residents and stakeholders regarding HB1412-FN.
Date: January 16th, 2018
Location: Legislative Office Building, 33 North State St., Concord, NH -Room 307
1a. At The Public Hearing:
Sign-In As Supporting HB 1412-FN - you may also,
Verbally Testify, and/or
Submit Written Testimony
Click here for tips on attending hearings and submitting verbal and written testimony
2. Call The Committee - Before Jan 16th
Find your house representative(s) Here
Find the committee members here
Have a match? Call your representative(s)
Example: "Hello my name is (your name), I'm from (town) and I'm calling to urge your support of HB 1412-FN, relative to cruelty to non-captive wildlife. This bill would rectify a loophole in NH law which currently protects domestic and captive wild animals only, by broadening that law to protect non-captive wild animals, which are native wild animals freely roaming our state.
HB 1412 would also help safeguard NH residents as animal cruelty has been proven by the FBI to be linked to acts of violence against humans.
With 45 states in America providing protection to non-captive wildlife, including those actively partaking in hunting and trapping activity, such as Maine, I believe it is essential that NH join them, and protect the wildlife and residents of the Granite State."
3. Email The Committee - Before Jan 16th
Subject: Support HB 1412-FN
Greeting: Dear Chairman Webb and Members of the House Fish and Game and Marine Resources Committee,
Message: (Example above, feel free to add/edit as you wish.)