In the Pipe: New Hunting and Fishing Regulations on the Horizon

The New Hampshire Department of Fish and Game is currently considering adopting two new sets of regulations which would affect hunting and fishing in the Granite State. The first would be a blanket prohibition on hunting using drones, “smart rifles,” and “live action game cameras.” The second, and the more recent proposal, would be a revision to the State’s current fishing regulations to prohibit the taking of Atlantic Cod within tidal waters but would decrease restrictions on taking Haddock.

It appears that drones are everyone these days, both literally and figuratively. Recreational drones have become a new trend amongst hobbyist, and online retailers have started to utilize the bots as a means delivering their wares. Similarly, throughout the country, hunters have started using drones as a way to locate and scout game. States like Colorado, Montana, and Alaska have reacted by prohibiting the use of drones for hunting and fishing purposes.

On March 11, 2015, the New Hampshire Department of Fish and Game approved rules which would prohibit taking wildlife by use of a drone or using a drone to “attempt to locate, surveil, or aid or assist in any attempt[] to locate or surveil wildlife for the purpose of attempting to take the wildlife.” The new regulations would similarly prohibit the use of drones to drive wildlife or communicate the location of wildlife for hunting purposes.

Addressing other technologies, the Department of Fish and Game simultaneously proposed a ban on “smart rifles,” and “live-action game cameras,” when used for hunting purposes. A “smart rifle” is a “firearm that is equipped with a guided trigger, laser range finder, and/or a ballistics computer,” and “life-action game cameras” are cameras capable of transmitting real-time images of wildlife to a tablet or smartphone.

The rules that prohibit the use of drones, smart-rifles, and live-action game cameras are anticipated to go in effect in April, pending approval of the New Hampshire Joint Legislative Committee on Administrative Rules.

The New Hampshire Fish and Game has also proposed new regulation which would limit fishing Atlantic Cod and Haddock. The Fish and Game’s new regulations would completely prohibit catching and keeping Atlantic Code that are taken from tidal waters. Tidal waters are those waters in which the rise and fall of a tide can be predictably measured. Those same regulations would also increase the amount of Haddock that could be taken from three to four and would reduce the minimum total length of haddock from twenty-one to seventeen inches.

The Department of Fish and Game is seeking public comment on these new regulations, with a deadline for written submissions of April 14, 2015, and will be holding a hearing on the regulations on April 7, 2015. For more information regarding these new regulations or means by which to participate in the public approval process, contact Attorney Eric Maher at 778-0686.