Top Fish & Game Official: Why N.H. Rescues Are Through the Roof

May 23, 2017

Why have there been so many search and rescue missions in New Hampshire’s great outdoors this year?  Not just hikers, but snowmobilers and ATV enthusiasts as well?  Fish and Game Executive director Glenn Normandeau gave his take on that question today on NHPR’s “The Exchange.”   

First off, Normandeau said, with an improved economy, there are simply more people out there, recreating.  But he also said – some of them just make poor choices.   

“We had some unfortunate drowning accidents with snowmobiles this past winter, and it’s our responsibility to recover those victims.  We’ve had a lot of snowmobile crashes….we had record snowmobile registrations this past winter.  And people get out there, and often they get a little carried away, often at night with a few adult-beverages in them, and bad things happen.”

“The mountain stuff, people just get up in there unprepared.  The spring is classic, because the weather can be fairly decent at the bottom, and all of the sudden they’re in waist-deep snow up high…and they’re unprepared.”

Normandeau said while the new “Hike-Safe” program has been a tremendous help, bringing in about $120,000 this past fiscal year, the Search and Rescue part of his agency is always in deficit, given the high cost of some of these operations.

Director Normandeau also addressed the long-held debate over how to bring in more money for Fish and Game.  For example, while motorboats and larger sailboats contribute through registration fees, smaller non-motorized craft are not obligated.  A Facebook comment from a listener, Meg, addressed that issue:

“Why don’t kayaks and canoes need an annual boat registration to use state ramps/launches too?  I’m a kayaker and I appreciate the access.”

The question’s come up before, Normandeau said:  “In 2007, we had a bill, I was on the commission at the time.  We got our ‘derrieres’ handed to us in the Legislature.  Everyone came out of the woodwork and just chopped our knees right out from under us on that…..when you’re used to not having to pay for something, it’s a tough gig.  That was a fight we lost on heavily.”

Listen to the entire conversation with Fish and Game Executive Director Glenn Normandeau on the NHPR Exchange website.