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Wildlife Rules Proposals for 2021-2022 Now Available on Fish and Game Webpage

CONTACT: Dan Bergeron: (603) 271-2461 Mark Ellingwood: (603) 271-2461 March 3, 2021

Concord, NH – The New Hampshire Fish and Game Department has posted proposed changes regarding the 2021-2022 hunting and trapping seasons on the Department’s website. A new page dedicated to 2021-2022 Wildlife Rules Proposals has been created and is intended to help constituents become familiar with proposed modifications to current rules in advance of two remote public hearings to be facilitated in late March.

Changes are typically recommended every two years to ensure that season dates and bag limits properly align with species population goals identified in the state’s ten-year Game Management Plan. Proposed revisions are based on a review of field data including recent hunting season results and other scientific information.

The complete rulemaking notice as well as an individual analysis of each managed game species can be read by visiting the Wildlife Rules Proposals for 2021-2022 webpage at https://www.wildlife.state.nh.us/hunting/season-setting.html.

The following are some selected highlights of the proposed 2021-2022 wildlife rules package. These highlights do not represent a comprehensive list of all proposed changes. New Hampshire’s regional deer, bear, and turkey populations are stable or increasing in most areas of the state. Thus, the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department is able to propose additional hunting opportunities in various regions.

Deer: New Hampshire’s 2020 deer seasons resulted in the fourth highest deer harvest in 97 years. The rule proposals call for enhanced hunting opportunity in 9 of the 20 Wildlife Management Units (WMUs) in the state. These opportunities include additional either-sex hunting opportunities in WMUs D2W, G2, H1, H2, I1, I2, J1, J2, and K and allowance for the use of crossbows during the archery season in WMUs L and M. The proposals also call for reductions in either-sex days in three northern units (A, B, and C2) to allow populations to recover following recent declines.

Under the new proposals, it would no longer be necessary to purchase an annual deer crossbow permit to use a crossbow during the deer firearms season. Crossbows could be used as a lesser weapon during the muzzleloader and firearms seasons.

Bear: Because bear populations are above goal in several of the state’s six bear management regions, additional reductions are needed. Extending the baiting season by 7 days in the Central, Southwest 1, Southwest 2, and Southeast Regions and extending the still hunting season by 28 days in the Southwest 2 and Southeast Regions has been proposed.

Turkey: The turkey population is stable or increasing throughout the state, therefore the Department is proposing to maintain the same season structure as in 2020. Other turkey-focused proposals include permitting the use of .410 and 28-gauge shotguns with specific shot restrictions on high-density loads.

Moose: The Department recommends the issuance of 42 either-sex moose permits for the fall 2021 moose season. Of these, 1 permit will be allocated for the New Hampshire Wildlife Federation’s Dream Hunts program and 1 permit will be issued for use by the New Hampshire Wildlife Heritage Foundation. This allocation of permits is a decrease from 2020. Populations in the Central and Southwest Regions have dropped below thresholds set in the state’s Game Management Plan, therefore the Department is proposing to temporarily suspend permit issuance in these regions to allow for population rebound.

The 2021-2022 rule proposal package would also:

  • Allow properly licensed deer and bear hunters who have already filled their tags to accompany youth hunters and individuals who have purchased an Apprentice Hunting License.
  • Require hunters and trappers to provide the Department with the lower jaw of any harvested fisher during the sealing process, allowing the Department to track the age structure of the population and provide better information regarding the health of the State’s fisher population.

Two remote public hearings will be conducted: Friday, March 26 at 10:00 a.m. and Tuesday, March 30 at 6:30 p.m. These hearings will provide people with an opportunity to make comments on and suggested changes to hunting and trapping rules, wildlife management strategies, and other NH Fish and Game Department functions. The public may submit comments now through April 6, 2021. Comments can be emailed to comments@wildlife.nh.gov (using the subject line “Comments on 2021-22 Wildlife Rules Proposals”), mailed to Executive Director, NH Fish and Game Department, 11 Hazen Drive, Concord, NH 03301, or faxed to (603) 271-5829.

Updates to and information on the 2021-2022 biennial season-setting process can be found at www.wildnh.com/legislative/proposed-rules.html.