Twenty five years ago, bald eagles and peregrine falcons were struggling to return from the brink of extinction. A handful of outdated surveys were all that existed to assess the location and condition of most wildlife species. Conservationists and biologists from New Hampshire Audubon, the State, and universities raised the call to "do something!"
The State Legislature responded, establishing the Nongame and Endangered Wildlife Program as part of the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department. Today, through wildlife monitoring and management, plus outreach and education, the Nongame Program protects over 400 species of mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians and insects.
Thanks to the Nongame Program, the Isles of Shoals is home to a healthy colony of common, Arctic, and roseate terns. Brilliant Karner blue butterflies breed in the wild on the Concord pine barrens. Magnificent bald eagles soar overhead – some 40 pairs now breed in New Hampshire! And peregrine falcons nest on our cliffs. Other species, from New England cottontails to songbirds, salamanders and black racer snakes, benefit from research and habitat management via the NH Wildlife Action Plan which guides conservation efforts statewide.
"The work being done to help rare species and their habitats helps all other wildlife," says coordinator John Kanter, whose program matches federal and state funding with private donations, bolstered by "Moose" conservation license plates. Even as the Non-game Program celebrates its 25th Anniversary, future challenges lie ahead including continued development pressure, habitat loss and stable funding in order to keep even common species, common.