Lawmaker’s proposal would extend night-time coyote hunting in N.H.

  • An ambassador Eastern coyote checks out its surroundings during a “creatures of the night” presentation at New Hampshire Audubon in Concord on Tuesday, Sept. 20, 2016. (ELIZABETH FRANTZ / Monitor staff)

Monitor staff
Published: 2/3/2017 11:32:13 PM

An Epsom state representative has proposed a law change that would allow hunters to kill coyotes at night for most of the year.

Currently, the nocturnal predators can be hunted year-round during the day and at night from Jan. 1 to March 31.

Republican Rep. John Klose said he wants to extend the season to mid-August to help hunters fight back against what he said are “vicious animals” that “are multiplying like it’s going out of style.”

“People don’t realize it. Everybody says, ‘Nice dog, nice dog,’ ” he said. “That’s a 24-hour killer, seven days a week.”

Klose, who owns a camp in the town of Columbia along the Vermont border said he’s seen coyotes kill turkeys, rabbits, and partridges. 

“Ten in a bunch could bring down a moose,” he said.

Klose, who’s been a hunter for 28 years, said he hears talk about the “coydog problem” everywhere he goes lately. His neighbor in Epsom has killed 11 coyotes in the past two months, he said, and at breakfast in Columbia he heard a story about a man’s small dogs that were killed by coyotes in the night.

“His dogs are chained. They didn’t have a chance. These (coyotes) literally ripped ‘em apart,” he said.

In addition to the extended season, Klose said he sought to restrict the use of .22-caliber rim-fire rifles in hunting coyotes because an imperfectly placed shot is likely to leave the animal suffering and limping away.

“I’m a master shot, okay? I can’t take ‘em at 100 yards with a .22. I might get lucky to knock ‘em down,” he said. “A .22 just don’t do the job.”

But his proposal was implemented as an amendment to an existing bill, and its text doesn’t exactly match what Klose said he wanted.

Klose said he intended for the extended season to end Aug. 14, because hunters would be allowed to use meat bait and he wanted to make sure none was left by the time bear season opens Sept. 1. But the amendment’s text says the end date is Aug. 31, according to a copy obtained by the Monitor.

The amendment also limits the weapons hunters can use to kill coyotes to rifles “using greater than .22 caliber ammunition, shotgun, muzzle-loading rifle, bow and arrow or crossbow.” But Klose said center-fire .22s should be okay.

The way the proposal was implemented, as an amendment that cancels out the original intent of House Bill 224, raised eyebrows among some of its opponents.

State Rep. Ellen Read, a Newmarket Democrat, said it appeared as though a controversial proposal was being introduced in a way that would limit the public’s ability to know it was coming.

Because it’s a “non-germane amendment,” it’ll require a separate hearing set for Tuesday, she said. But when it was attached this week to the final bill the House’s Fish and Game and Marine Resources Committee was set to consider, it replaced an unrelated provision that was supposed to repeal discounted rates for hunting and fishing licenses for non-resident students.

“Forget everything about student hunting licenses. This is no longer about that,” Read said, suggesting that it might have been introduced this way to “circumvent any kind of opposition.”

Klose, for his part, said he didn’t know how the process unfolded.

“I put an amendment in. I don’t know what they attached it to,” he said. “When you attach an amendment on a bill, usually it’s a dead bill.”

When it came up at the committee, the amendment caught even the Fish and Game Department by surprise.

Glenn Normandeau, the department’s executive director, said it “sort of came out of nowhere and got everybody worked up.”

Normandeau said the Fish and Game Commission considered a similar proposal in 2005 and unanimously agreed to drop it. 

“One concern is simply that in the summers, people are outside, doors and windows are open. Local police departments probably don’t want to hear about gunshots at night,” he said.

Normandeau predicted that the proposal wouldn’t get any farther this time than it did a decade ago.

“I think at the end of the day, it’ll be sort of much ado about nothing. People are are running around writing letters to editors about Fish and Game trying to sneak things in behind  their back,” he said. “Again, it came up quickly and without our foreknowledge, so we’re just working our way through it ourselves.”

A hearing on the bill is scheduled for Tuesday at 10 a.m. in room 307 of the Legislative Office Building.

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