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New Hampshire Fish and Game Through the Years

Scroll through the timeline below to explore major milestones in the history of the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department. Along the way, notice the progression of events that triggered a call to action for the Legislature in 1865 - and ultimately resulted in today’s effectively managed fish, wildlife and marine resources.


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1823: Legislative act repeals protection of anadromous fish runs up all New Hampshire tributaries of the Merrimack River; mill owners build dams without restrictions.

1831: Legislature repeals all protective laws on New Hampshire's fish (June 28) and deer (July 1).



1847: Construction of dam at Lawrence, Mass., ends the possibility of any anadromous fish ascending the Merrimack into New Hampshire.



Smallmouth BassJune 30, 1865: Fisheries Commission established.

1866: Landlocked salmon introduced to Newfound Lake.

1868-1880: Smallmouth bass stocked into 140 New Hampshire lakes and ponds.

1877: New Hampshire's first state-financed fish hatchery established at Livermore Falls; Pemigewasset Atlantic salmon runs return.

1878: Board of Fish Commissioners becomes Fish and Game Commissioners.



1880: First prosecution of game law violation - $71 fine for “crust-hunting.”

1883-1893: Commissioner Elliott Hodge expands the number of state fish hatcheries to 11.

1890: B.P. Chadwick appointed as New Hampshire’s lone Fish and Game Detective.



1901: Hunting permanently closed for caribou and closed for moose for 87 years.

1903: Non-resident hunting licenses first required at a cost of ten dollars.

1909: Resident hunting licenses required at one dollar.

1915: Game detectives now called "Game Wardens"

1917: Fishing licenses required.


Fish and Game Wardens1920

1926: Fish and Game Wardens (30 in all) get uniforms.

1930: Trapping license required.

1935: Modern-day Fish and Game Department established, with a five-man Commission that would hire a Director. Wardens are now "Conservation Officers."

1936: Earl Hoover begins a four-year biological survey of New Hampshire’s lakes and streams.

1937: Wildlife Restoration Act establishes an excise tax on firearms and ammunition, providing federal funds to state fish and wildlife agencies for habitat protection, wildlife research and restoration. New Hampshire receives its first funding in 1939.



1948: Fish and Game’s Education Division established.

1950: Sport Fish Restoration Act establishes an excise tax on fishing gear, providing federal revenue for fisheries projects.

1955: The number of Fish and Game Commissioners increases from five to ten.

1956: The Department moves from the State House Annex to its new headquarters on Bridge Street.

1957: Fish and Game builds the Winnicut River Dam and fish ladder to create upstream habitat for fish and waterfowl, the first fish ladder on a New Hampshire coastal river system.



Congress1960s: The federal Clean Waters Act, Clean Air Act, Wilderness Act and Anadromous Fish Act add to Fish and Game's responsibilities.

1965: State legislature gives authority to Fish and Game to manage New Hampshire’s coastal habitats and saltwater fisheries.

1968: C.O. Carl Carlson issues first summons for unregistered snowmobile in Pittsburg (registration became state law in 1967).

1969: Anadromous Fish Restoration Project begins in Merrimack, Connecticut and coastal rivers.

1971: Fish and Game becomes responsible for enforcing laws regarding snowmobiles and All-Terrain Vehicles.

1972: Number of Conservation Officers reaches an all-time high of 50.

Turkey1975: Twenty-five wild turkeys from New York released in Walpole. Hunter Education required for all first-time hunters.



1980: First hunting season for the reintroduced turkeys; 31 birds are taken.

1984: Fire destroys Fish and Game's Bridge Street headquarters. Wallop-Breaux amendment to the Sport Fish Restoration Act helps fund Public Boat Access and Aquatic Education programs.

1985: Project WILD, a national wildlife supplementary education curriculum, introduced to New Hampshire schools. Barry Conservation Camp offers summer sessions.

Fire at NH Fish and Game1988: Nongame and Endangered Wildlife Program established. First modern-era moose hunt in New Hampshire, with 75 hunters selected by lottery.

1989: First Discover WILD New Hampshire Day (April). Great Bay designated a National Estuarine Research Reserve (October)

1990: Merrimack River Watershed Education Program implemented focusing on Fisheries Habitat Conservation.

1995: First "Becoming an Outdoors-Woman" program.

Becoming and Outdoors-Woman1996: Sandy Point (now Great Bay) Discovery Center opens in Greenland. First Big Game Plan for management of moose, deer and bear approved.

1998: Moose Plate Conservation Fund established.



2001: McGoldrick Dam on the Ashuelot River removed to benefit migratory fish.

2004: Owl Brook Hunter Education Center opens in Holderness.

Sandy Point Discovery2006: First New Hampshire Wildlife Action Plan approved, paving the way for federal matching funds for nongame projects. Wildlife Heritage Foundation of New Hampshire established.



2011: Saltwater recreational fishing license required.

2013: Federal funding ends for Atlantic salmon restoration on the Merrimack River.

2013: The legislature grants stopgap funding to keep Fish and Game in operation at current level.



2015: Legislative action will largely determine the future of Fish and Game.