Thank you for visiting the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department website. NH Fish and Game



Fish and Game Perspectives


New Hampshire Game Management Challenges

By Mark Ellingwood, NH Fish and Game Wildlife Division Chief


New England was settled by hunters and trappers; trade in beaver pelts was a principle form of commerce in New Hampshire for nearly 150 years. Wild game was a critical staple for settlers who struggled to sustain themselves in the small openings they hacked out of our primordial forests. In 1876, a Charlestown, NH, resident was quoted as saying, “Hunting, in the infancy of our country, was the most profitable employment of its inhabitants." For early settlers, survival, not science-based wildlife management, was job one.


Unregulated wildlife consumption and exploitation eventually took its toll.  By 1800, numerous wildlife species including bear, deer and moose were largely absent from the New Hampshire landscape. Wildlife populations that had formerly supported some 5,000 Native Americans declined and then collapsed under the demands of unregulated use by an estimated 184,000 settlers. By 1850, expansive land clearing for farming and livestock grazing had eliminated important wildlife habitat and further contributed to the decline of native wildlife. This, coupled with the commercial exploitation via market hunting, brought wildlife populations to new lows.