National Guard hopes to join Fish and Game on search and rescue missions

By ANNMARIE TIMMINS

New Hampshire Bulletin

Published: 07-18-2023 12:50 PM

When Fish and Game gets emergency calls for help in the northern part of the state, such as those from hikers caught in a storm, it often looks to local search and rescue groups for help. That volunteer help is much harder to find in the southern part of the state – for now.

The Department of Military Affairs and Veterans Services and Fish and Game have asked the Executive Council to approve an agreement that will allow National Guard members to assist Fish and Game officers with search and rescue missions from the Lakes Region to the southern border. 

In a letter to executive councilors New Hampshire Adjutant Gen. David Mikolaities said the partnership will mean quicker response for people who need help south of the North Country. The council is expected to take up the request at its meeting Wednesday.

Recruiting volunteers has not been a problem.

Forty-six soldiers and airmen attended the first training session in May with Fish and Game and Upper Valley Wilderness Rescue Team.

“Having teams closer to (these calls) will save a great deal of valuable time,” Lt. Jim Kneeland, a Fish and Game conservation officer, said in a statement. “We put a tremendous strain on these existing groups. They even pay for their own gas.”

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Fish and Game responds to an average of 190 search and rescue calls annually, said Kneeland, in a statement. About 20 of those occur south of the Lakes Region, he said.

The agreement would not require state funding.

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