The American Kennel Club (AKC) believes that, as early as January, New Hampshire House Bill 1308 will have a legislative hearing, during which lawmakers will decide whether beagle clubs should continue to be allowed to host field trials and capture 20 wild hare annually for purposes of training their scent hounds. If adopted, the bill would ban the capture, possession, and propagation of hares and rabbits for hunting dog training and field trials in New Hampshire. The complete elimination of beagle training and competition events would constitute a serious assault on the sport of hunting with dogs.
HISTORY: After a failed petition attempt in 2020 to repeal New Hampshire Fish and Game Commission (the Commission) rules authorizing limited hare capture under specific humane conditions, New Hampshire’s Voices of Wildlife (VOW) is promoting HB 1308 as another means of accomplishing their goals. AKC and others submitted letters objecting to this petition. In response to VOW’s allegations that hares are a vulnerable population and captive hares fail to thrive, the Commission rejected the petition. The Commission consistently maintains New Hampshire’s hare population is healthy. A minor edit to the Commission’s rule requiring periodic veterinary examination of club hares was made allowing conservation officers to randomly select hares for examinations. VOW’s old arguments are now being made to lawmakers in a flyer requesting support for HB 1308.
AKC’s POSITION: AKC strongly opposes HB 1308, as the complete elimination of beagle training and competition events would constitute a serious assault on the sport of hunting with dogs. Of the 14 AKC-affiliated clubs in New Hampshire, four are beagle clubs. Each has no less than 55 acres where training and events take place. The objective of training and field trial activities is not to catch the hare, but to trail it accurately and quickly enough to keep it moving. Beagles are judged on their scent skills in tracking and pursuing hare while working as a team and communicating effectively to the handler. This brief video by the Northeast Beagle Gundog Federation provides a good overview.
Dog training is an important element of responsible dog ownership and public safety. In fact, a well-trained dog is one of the best conservation tools in locating fallen game. AKC encourages and strongly supports the interaction and mutual enjoyment of owners and dogs in sporting activities such as hunting and field trials; and in competition events such as dog shows, obedience trials, agility trials, and other performance events and tests.
WHAT YOU CAN DO: It is imperative that New Hampshire residents alert friends and family regarding the negative consequences of HB 1308 and its threat to dog-related activities. AKC is in contact with New Hampshire residents who would be directly harmed by HB 1308 to develop a fact sheet dispelling the myths being perpetuated. When a public hearing is scheduled, AKC will issue another alert with relevant details and recommended actions.
For more information on this or other legislative issues in New Hampshire, contact AKC’s Government Relations Department at 919-816-3720 or firstname.lastname@example.org; or the Dog Owners of the Granite State at email@example.com.