Fish and Game Funding: Sustaining New Hampshire's Fish and Wildlife Legacy

As the guardian of the state's fish, wildlife and marine resources, the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department works in partnership with the public to:

  • Conserve, manage and protect these resources and their habitats;
  • Inform and educate the public about these resources; and
  • Provide the public with opportunities to use and appreciate these resources.

The N.H. Fish and Game Department is facing a major funding shortfall. Click here for an update on this critical issue (includes link to the November 1, 2013, report by the Legislative Commission on Fish and Game Sustainability).

How is the Fish and Game Department funded?
Fish and Game is a self-funded agency. About 70% of Fish and Game's conservation work is funded by fishing and hunting licenses and permit fees, plus dedicated federal funds from a tax on the sale of hunting and fishing equipment and motorboat fuels (Sport Fish and Wildlife Restoration Program funds). The rest of the funding comes from OHRV registrations, unrefunded motorboat gas tax, transfers and other agency income. Click here for a pie chart showing the sources of Fish and Game funding and the breakdown of Department spending on various programs.
Do my tax dollars pay for Fish and Game activities?
The N.H. Fish and Game Department is committed to remaining a self-funded agency. A tiny percentage, less than 0.2% (two-tenths of one percent), of Fish and Game’s revenue comes from the state General Fund, and that is designated for the Nongame and Endangered Wildlife Program. In the FY 14-15 biennial budget, a one-time transfer of General Funds was made to keep the Department whole and autonomous; a Legislative Commission was set up to identify future funding solutions, which are urgently needed if the Department is to be able to fulfill its duties after June 30, 2015. Click here to learn more.
How are search and rescue activities funded?
Basic funding for Search and Rescue efforts, which are part of Fish and Game's mandated responsibilities, comes from a $1 fee on every boat, snowmobile, OHRV and ATV registration; these fees are deposited into the Search and Rescue Fund. In recent years, these fees have not been sufficient to cover the cost of search and rescue, so the deficit must be made up from hunting and fishing license dollars. Click here to learn more about the crisis in search and rescue funding.
How does a strong Fish and Game Department benefit New Hampshire?

All New Hampshire residents and visitors benefit from the work of Fish and Game. The work that we do protects open land, clean water and clean air and provides for wildlife watching, boating access sites, fish and wildlife conservation, educational opportunities for all ages, and great fishing and hunting. Our work sustains healthy and diverse populations of fish and wildlife, as well as protecting and enhancing the habitats they depend on for survival. We accomplish this through scientific research, species and habitat management and protection, enforcement of conservation laws and a range of educational programs for all ages -- all with the participation and support of the public.

How does the Fish and Game Department support the quality of life in New Hampshire?
New Hampshire is endowed with scenic beauty and abundant natural resources, qualities that have shaped the state's character today and will strongly influence what kind of state we will have in the future. The presence of fish, wildlife and marine resources is intricately linked to our quality of life, our economy and our identity as citizens of New Hampshire.
How does fish and wildlife conservation create a strong economy in New Hampshire?
Wildlife-associated recreation contributed $556 million in expenditures to New Hampshire's economy in 2011, according to the 2011 U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service National Survey of Fishing, Hunting and Wildlife-Associated Recreation. This spending often takes place in the "shoulder" seasons of spring and late fall, when fewer tourists are visiting or traveling in New Hampshire.

  • Of this total, hunters and anglers spent $275 million, while wildlife watchers spent $281 million.
  • Anglers, hunters and wildlife watchers spent $112 million on food and lodging in New Hampshire, based on the 2011 U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service National Survey of Fishing, Hunting, and Wildlife-Associated Recreation.
How does fish and wildlife conservation benefit New Hampshire residents and tourists?
The New Hampshire Fish and Game Department's work conserving fish and wildlife helps provide healthy outdoor recreational opportunities, improving the quality of life for residents and supporting tourism in the state: Hunters and anglers age 16 and above spent over 5.7 million recreation days in New Hampshire during 2011, while wildlife watchers tallied 1.9 million days of wildlife-watching recreation away from their own homes. Collectively, this represents 7.6 million user days of wildlife recreation in New Hampshire. According to the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service National Survey of Fishing, Hunting and Wildlife-Associated Recreation, in 2011, among people age 16 and older::

  • 56,000 hunted in New Hampshire; .
  • 228,000 fished in NH;
  • 630,000 watched wildlife in NH.
Who is served by the work of the N.H. Fish and Game Department?
Fish and Game's ongoing programs serve all New Hampshire residents and visitors who have the opportunity to enjoy and cherish the state's bountiful fish and wildlife resources and who depend on Fish and Game for information and services. Fish and Game also serves:
  • State and local businesses, including diverse outdoor retailers and hospitality interests dependent on seasonal influxes of hunters, anglers and wildlife viewers;
  • Farmers, foresters, livestock owners and fish culturists concerned about wildlife impacts;
  • Residents, camp owners, visitors and community leaders dealing with "nuisance" bear issues;
  • Hikers, climbers, lost children and elderly "wanderers" in need of search and rescue services.
  • Communities working to preserve critical wildlife habitats, open space and land access;
  • Citizens affected by public safety concerns such as wildlife/vehicle collisions, hunter safety, OHRV enforcement, and ice safety;
  • Community health interests relating to wildlife-related human diseases such as rabies, Lyme disease, Chronic Wasting Disease, West Nile Virus and avian flu;
  • Schoolteachers and nature educators who benefit from Fish and Game outreach and education programs, curricula and professional development training -- and the thousands of students who become grounded in the values of conservation through their efforts.
Why does Fish and Game have a financial deficit?
The Department's operating expenses now exceed its revenues. To meet current operating expenses, the Fish and Game Fund reserve is being tapped. Without Legislative action, the Fish and Game Fund will be depleted by June 30, 2015.
What does Fish and Game need in the long term?
The New Hampshire Fish and Game Department needs a new supplemental source of revenue. To keep programs stable and continue fulfilling the wide range of services provided to the public, Legislative solutions are needed. Agency resources are stretched to the limit. There is a clear need to establish some kind of mechanism to allow the broader constituencies that benefit from Fish and Game’s programs help pay for them, as hunters and anglers have been doing for many years.
Why doesn't N.H. Fish and Game raise license fees to get more revenue?
Raising license fees is not an option. Periodically since 1935, we have addressed similar financial needs through a legislative process of raising license fees. Research indicates that a further increase in fees would result in a participation decline and net reduction in revenue, telling us we must look to the broader constituencies that benefit from Fish and Game programs and services to support wildlife conservation in New Hampshire.
What is Fish and Game doing to reduce costs and enhance revenues?

Fish and Game has dug deep for efficiencies and cut costs in recent years by:

  • Deferring equipment purchases (including vehicles) unless the item was critical;
  • Eliminating many staff positions and holding vacant positions open for as long as possible;
  • Conducting surveys to determine why fewer people are purchasing fishing and hunting licenses; applying results to marketing campaigns;
  • Working to recruit new hunters and anglers;
  • Investing a portion of the Fish and Game Fund in an account that yields higher-interest earnings;
  • Adopting new technologies to accomplish work more efficiently.
Are license dollars used to support Fish and Game's Nongame and Endangered Wildlife Program?
No. The Nongame Program is supported by individual donations, federal funds called State Wildlife Grants, and a small matching grant from the State of New Hampshire. Click here to learn more and donate to the Nongame Program.
How much revenue from snowmobile and OHRV/ATV registration fees stays at Fish and Game?
Fish and Game is responsible for the administration of the Off Highway Recreational Vehicle and snowmobile registration program, safety education and law enforcement. Fish and Game collects the fees from the issuance of OHRV and snowmobile registrations. However, only a portion revenue is retained by Fish and Game. The N.H. Department of Resources and Economic Develpment (DRED) Bureau of Trails receives a majority of the funds. Approximately 82% of snowmobile registration monies and 59% of wheeled vehicle registration monies collected go to DRED, which in turn distributes grants to local clubs for trail maintenance, equipment and operations. The monies retained by Fish and Game are dedicated funds used for OHRV and snowmobile Law Enforcement, safety education and the registration program.
Is New Hampshire the only state facing a revenue shortfall for its fish and wildlife programs?

No. This situation is part of a national trend. Every state in the country has a department that oversees fish and wildlife conservation, and many of these agencies are also facing financial difficulties. Nationally, participation in hunting and fishing is declining, along with the license dollars that pay for most of the work that wildlife agencies do. In recent years, in spite of limited funding, department responsibilities have expanded to meet many new mandated duties, including OHRV registration and enforcement, habitat protection, protecting threatened species, providing public water access, controlling wildlife damage and monitoring for diseases.

Across the U.S., fish and wildife agencies are finding they cannot sustain themselves under this outdated funding model. In response, more than 31 states have changed the way in which their state wildlife agencies are funded, so that they do not have to rely solely on hunting and fishing license fees. Some get revenue from income, sales or other taxes; others -- including Vermont and Maine -- through annual General Fund appropriations.

What is the role of the Wildlife Heritage Foundation of New Hampshire?
The Wildlife Heritage Foundation of New Hampshire is Fish and Game's official non-profit partner. It raises money, in support of Fish and Game’s conservation and management of wildlife and natural places, through individual and corporate donors, events, and from the annual auction of fish and game permits and licenses. For more information or to make an online donation, visit www.nhwildlifefoundation.org.

About Us
 
NH Fish and Game Dept.
11 Hazen Drive
Concord, NH 03301

603-271-3421
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