Save the Snowshoe Hares, Part I

To the Editor:

The New Hampshire House Fish and Game and Marine Resources committee is getting mass emails with misinformation from the opposition to the N.H. snowshoe hare protection legislation, HB 1308. These hundreds of emails don’t give the N.H. town of residence, leading to the belief that the emails are from out-of-staters. Supporters of the bill are concerned that the reasons for supporting this legislation are lost in the hundreds of emails from non-residents.

HB 1308 is a conservation bill. It keeps snowshoe hares in the wild. Beagle clubs trap and relocate them for dog training. The clubs use the hares in field trials where beagles chase the hares. The best-performing dogs win trophies and ribbons. The hares are not surviving at the clubs. The clubs admit predation is occurring, although hares kept for breeding are required to be protected.

Snowshoe hares are having a rough time of it. Their famous traits are not as valuable to their survival because of our shorter winters with less snowfall. Snowshoe hares change to white as a camouflage effect to avoid predation. The other trait is the enormous back feet that act as snowshoes to bound over deep snow while being chased.

Snowshoe hares are a keystone species. Relocating even one of them for recreational field trials is a waste of a species needed for a healthy ecosystem. HB 1308 should pass to conserve this needed species. Call or email your N.H. Representatives if you agree. Make sure to give your N.H. town of residence.

Linda Dionne

Raymond, N.H.

–=≈=–

Save the Snowshoe Hares, Part II!

To the Editor:

New Hampshire is considering legislation to help conserve our state’s wild snowshoe hare population. House Bill 1308 would end the practice that began in 2007 of permitting beagle dog clubs to capture and breed wild snowshoe hares for dog training.

As a “keystone species,” snowshoe hares are critical to the survival of other animals and the health of ecosystems. But biologists are worried about their long-term survival in the face of climate change.

As John Litvaitis, emeritus professor of wildlife ecology at UNH, explains in his article “A White Hare in a Brown Forest,” shorter winters mean that snowshoe hares are finding themselves conspicuously white against a brown landscape (or the opposite) more often.

HB 1308 seeks to help this at-risk species by lessening the number of snowshoe hares removed from the wild. Yet New Hampshire’s beagle dog clubs are concerned that it would make it impossible for them to train its dogs if the bill passed.

Responding to their concerns, Representative Ellen Read proposed an amendment to the bill that would allow the clubs to keep the hares already in their care after years of capturing them from the wild.

This compromise would protect wild snowshoe hare populations from further depletion while allowing the clubs to continue their training activities.

Please help pass this legislation as amended by reaching out to your state representatives and asking them to support HB 1308 with the Read amendment.

Elizabeth Marino

Goffstown, N.H.

Secretary and Board Member, Voices of Wildlife in N.H. (VOW), PO Box 5862, Manchester, N.H. 03108; www.voicesofwildlifeinnh.org, www.facebook.com/VOWNH.

VOW, a registered N.H. non-profit 501(c)(4), works to protect N.H.’s wildlife by advocating for legislation and regulations and conducts research into elected official’s positions and voting records regarding these issues and to publicize those results.

Elizabeth:

Believe it or not, from 1990 into 1995, this newspaper was published in prime showshoe habitat. It is appalling to think of those beautiful wild animals, clever enough to winter over in that challenging environment, being sacrificed for the pleasure of a bunch of snooty beagle breeders.

On the other hand, we can’t help but wonder what Uncle Fred, and Glen, and Danny would say about this. All three hunted rabbits—and ducks, and pheasants, and deer, and what have you. They, too, were well-adapted to their landscape. They respected it, and the animals they hunted. We cannot bring ourselves to condemn their ways.

These same men and their ancestors once cut pond ice. Stored as great blocks in a sawdust-filled ice house, cut down to fill the tops of wooden iceboxes, it kept perishable food all through the summer.

The Public Service Company’s wires—which Glen helped maintain—eventually did away with ice-cutting (though the tools and the ice house remain).

It seems like climate change will eventually end old-school rabbit hunting. Perhaps it would be best to let it go.

The Editor

–=≈=–

Leave a Comment