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

Bull MooseThe NH Fish and Game Department continues to face major funding challenges.


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.


Hunting, fishing and wildlife watching boost New Hampshire's economy in a big way!


See a pie chart showing the sources of Fish and Game funding and the breakdown of Department spending on various programs.


How is the Fish and Game Department funded?
Typically, about a third of our revenue comes from fishing and hunting licenses and permit fees, and a third comes from dedicated federal funds (including revenues from the Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Program, State Wildlife Grants, and the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration). The remaining third of funding for Fish and Game comes from a mix of sources, such as OHRV registrations, unrefunded motorboat gas tax, transfers and other agency income.
Does Fish and Game receive General Funds?
In 2013, the Legislature provided stopgap funding to keep the Fish and Game Department whole for the Fiscal Year 14-15 biennium (transfers were made from the State General Fund to the Fish and Game Fund of $699,000 for FY 14 and $893,000 for FY 15). The budget for Fiscal Years 16-17 included $600,000 per year in General Funds for Fish and Game. Learn more.
How is search and rescue 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, this revenue has not been sufficient to cover the cost of search and rescue, so the deficit must be made up from the Fish and Game Fund. Purchases of the voluntary Hike Safe Card also help support search and rescue activities. 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.
  • Want more data on how hunting, fishing and wildlife-watching activities boost New Hampshire's economy? Read the report! PDF Document*
    *See Errata related to the report PDF Document
  • In addition, in 2013 commercial marine fisheries landings in New Hampshire were valued at $20 million.
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 NH 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.
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.

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
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 wildlife-related diseases. Across the U.S., fish and wildife agencies are finding they cannot sustain themselves under this outdated funding model. In response, a majority of 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.
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 NH 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.