He Who Pays the Piper Calls the Tune — Maybe
By John A. Litvaitis
WHY MORE CITIZENS SHOULD HAVE A VOICE IN STATE AGENCY DECISIONS
For the most part, when it comes to conservation,
state fish and wildlife agencies share
governance with hunters, anglers and trappers.
However, there appears to be a growing need
for agencies to expand that relationship to other
groups and members of the public (Jacobson et al.
2010; Smith 2011; Decker et al. 2016).
That need was recently illustrated in my home
state of New Hampshire. In February 2016, the
New Hampshire Fish and Game Commission — an
11-member governing body of the New Hampshire
Fish and Game Department (NHFG) — went against
substantial public opposition and voted to endorse
a trapping and hunting season on bobcats (Lynx rufus).
The Commission, whose basic structure dates
back to the 1930s, includes a representative from
each of the 10 counties plus one representative from
the seacoast region of the state. Commission members
are required to have held a hunting, fishing or
trapping license for five of the last 10 years. As political
appointees, they are responsible for establishing
policy; approving hunting, fishing and trapping
regulations; approving some financial transactions;
and nominating the Executive Director of NHFG.
This structure hasn’t been free of criticism, however,
and over time, some state residents have come to feel
that the Commission only considers the input
of a limited number of hunters and trappers.
Read full article by John Livaitis, PHD, an emeritus
professor of wildlife ecology at the
University of New Hampshire and is a member
of the New Hampshire Wildlife Coalition.