Let Go and Let Nature Be

The world is losing nature at a remarkable pace, and New Hampshire is no exception. The crisis spares no creature — mammals, fish, birds, amphibians, reptiles, and even the tiniest invertebrates are disappearing.

The culprits? Rampant development, widespread pesticide use, and climate change. Safeguarding habitats is no longer enough — we must enable nature to expand.

The good news is that simply by letting land be, allowing nature to reclaim its space, we can help imperiled species rebound.

83% of land in the U.S. is privately owned. If we planted native on 50% of private land we would restore biodiversity… and we can do it starting NOW.

© Caelin Graber

9 ways to promote wildlife

  • Don’t mow
  • Leave leaves
  • Keep your trees!
  • Plant for pollinators
  • Landscape for wildlife
  • Use non-lethal methods to deter unwelcome wildlife
  • Lights off at night
  • Retire your bug zapper
  • Build homes for animals

Pledge A Plot

How much of your land are you prepared to dedicate to the wild?

Resources

Delicious Time at Build-A-Cookie

We had a great time visiting with old and new friends at Build-A-Cookie, located in the Fox Run Mall in Newington, Saturday, March 16.

The NHARL-inspired “Lucky Dog” cookie was featured along with many other cruelty-free, allergen-friendly, and gluten-free treats.

Huge thanks to cookie queen Alex and her Build-A-Cookie team for their delicious baked goods and support.

Yes, the cookies and brownies are as big as they look!

If you missed the meetup, be sure to visit Build-A-Cookie another time — they are open Thu, Fri, and Sat from 10:00 – 5:00 — and tell Alex NHARL sent you!

Joining the fun were lucky dogs “Sunny” (left) and “Kowalski” (right) who enjoyed the dog-friendliness of the mall (but not really each other).

Kangaroos Are Not Shoes! (Repeat Performance)

Chanting “Kangaroos Are Not ShoesDon’t Be a Dick’s,” the New Hampshire Animal Rights League once again stormed Dick’s Sporting Goods, this time in Concord, calling on the store to stop selling shoes made from kangaroo skins.

Dick’s Sporting Goods is the country’s largest distributor of kangaroo-based soccer cleats made by Germany-based Adidas, Japanese-based Mizuno, and other companies.

Australia’s commercial kangaroo industry kills almost two million wild kangaroos each year. Commercial shooters are permitted to kill mother kangaroos even when the joeys are still in their pouch.

Joeys are left to die, bludgeoned to death, or decapitated (see “Guidelines for euthanasia of dependent young and wounded or injured kangaroos” in Australia’s National Code of Practice for the Humane Shooting of Kangaroos and Wallabies).   

The kangaroo massacre represents the world’s largest slaughter of land-based wildlife on the planet.

The protest was in support of the Kangaroos Are Not Shoes campaign by the Center for a Humane Economy. Since the launch of the campaign, Puma, Nike, and New Balance have all announced commitments to halt the sale of kangaroo-based shoes.

A Bit of Media Coverage

Newspaper coverage of our protest caught the attention of InDepth NH reporter Roger Wood, who then interviewed NHARL president Joan O’Brien for his podcast.

Build-A-Cookie

Build-A-Cookie, which recently opened at the Newington Mall in Newington, NH, is a bakery catering to those with food allergies and gluten sensitivity.

Since their baked goods are free from common food allergens (gluten, milk, eggs), the menu is almost fully vegan!

Along with providing “the ultimate cookie experience,” they also sell cupcakes, chocolate lava cakes, and more.

Kangaroos Are Not Shoes!

Chanting “Kangaroos Are Not ShoesDon’t Be a Dick’s,” the New Hampshire Animal Rights League stormed Dick’s Sporting Goods at the Mall of New Hampshire calling on the store to stop selling shoes made from kangaroo skins.

Dick’s Sporting Goods is the country’s largest distributor of kangaroo-based soccer cleats made by Germany-based Adidas, Japanese-based Mizuno, and other companies.

Australia’s commercial kangaroo industry kills almost two million wild kangaroos each year. Commercial shooters are permitted to kill mother kangaroos even when the joeys are still in their pouch.

Joeys are left to die, bludgeoned to death, or decapitated (see “Guidelines for euthanasia of dependent young and wounded or injured kangaroos” in Australia’s National Code of Practice for the Humane Shooting of Kangaroos and Wallabies).   

The kangaroo massacre represents the world’s largest slaughter of land-based wildlife on the planet.

The protest was in support of the Kangaroos Are Not Shoes campaign by the Center for a Humane Economy. Since the launch of the campaign, Puma, Nike, and New Balance have all announced commitments to halt the sale of kangaroo-based shoes.

Squirrels and coyotes debated in NH Senate committee

by RICK GREEN for the Keene Sentinel
January 11, 2024

The value of gray squirrels and coyotes was debated at an N.H. Senate committee meeting this week, with some speakers labeling them as a plentiful nuisance and others saying they are worthy of protection.

At issue were two bills, one to ban using dogs to hunt coyotes and the other to allow gray squirrels to be hunted year-round.

State Sen. Tim Lang, R-Sanbornton, is the prime sponsor of Senate Bill 548, which would change the definition of the furry rodent, specifying that it should no longer be considered a game animal.

 

The N.H. Fish and Game Commission regulates game animals, including setting seasons for when they can be legally hunted. If the gray squirrel was no longer considered a game animal, these regulations would end and hunters could kill them at will.  

The current season for hunting gray squirrels is Sept. 1 through Jan. 31. A hunter’s daily limit is five. The season is intended to give time for gray squirrels to reproduce and raise their pups.

But Lang said there are so many gray squirrels that there is no reason for the state to impose any restrictions on those who want to hunt them. He also said many hunters teach their children to hunt by shooting squirrels. Some people eat the small animals, he added.

“Due to prolific breeding, they self-manage their own population,” Lang told the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee on Tuesday.

He said they produce two litters a year, each containing several pups.  Lang noted that their population rebounded even after the “squirrel apocalypse” of 2018. That’s when there was a lack of nuts, squirrels had to roam far and wide to get food, cars hit them by the thousands and their carcasses were frequently found on roads. 

N.H. Sen. Kevin Avard, R-Nashua, also noted squirrels get into attics and cause thousands of dollars in damage. (State law allows property owners to eradicate animals out of season if they are damaging their property.) 

N.H. Sen. David Watters, D-Dover, questioned whether his fellow lawmakers were considering the full picture.

“One wonders whether this living animal is just target practice,” Watters said. “How is killing for the sake of killing something that is in accord with something we want to teach our children?”

Lang tried to pass a similar bill two years ago, but said it was flawed because it sought to change a wrong statute. It died in the Senate.

Weldon Bosworth, who holds a doctorate in biology and is a member of the N.H. Wildlife Coalition, called the bill “regressive and ill-thought-out.”

“You wouldn’t have forests spread all around if you didn’t have squirrels,” he said. “They spread the seeds. They serve as prey to some of our most iconic predators – foxes, fishers, coyotes. You wouldn’t have those if they didn’t have prey.”

He also questioned the motives of those who want a year-round season on gray squirrels.

 

“This bill is for those people who get their jollies by killing wildlife animals instead of going to the target range,” he said.

He said killing them over the summer when they are trying to reproduce is “sort of morally reprehensible to me.”

Dan Bergeron, chief of the state Fish and Game Department’s Wildlife Division, opposed the bill. He said there is a possibility of over-hunting gray squirrels and added that the department would like to leave the regulations as is. 

The committee on Tuesday also considered Senate Bill 346, which would ban the use of dogs in hunting coyotes.

Watters, who is the prime sponsor of the legislation, said this hunting method is cruel to the dogs. He said dogs wearing GPS collars chase the coyote, and when it is exhausted or cornered, there is a fight to the death if the hunter isn’t on the scene quick enough to shoot the coyote.

Testifying in opposition to the bill was David Blaze, a wildlife control operator who uses dogs to hunt coyotes that have become a nuisance to farmers. He noted that the coyote is a predator that sometimes kills domesticated animals, including pigs, chickens and even dogs.

“Those lost dog posters, we all know what those really mean – the dog has been snatched by a coyote,” he said.

Blaze also said it’s difficult to successfully hunt a coyote without using dogs. He also said fighting does not occur and the dogs are not harmed.

Bergeron, from the N.H. Fish and Game Department, opposed the bill. He said further study is needed on coyote hunting in the state, but added there seems to be a plentiful population of these animals. 

Bosworth, of the N.H. Wildlife Coalition, testified that hunting coyotes with dogs is “gruesome.” Advocates of such hunting say it has a long tradition.

“But there are a number of traditions that humans have had that are basically for entertainment but are cruelty for animals – bear baiting, cock fighting, dog fighting.”

N.H. Sen. Howard Pearl, R-Loudon, said anyone who has seen a coyote kill a domestic animal would support all measures of hunting the predator.

But Bosworth said that kind of thinking has been devastating to some animal species.

“That was actually the opinion back in the 1800s when we wiped out all the wolves in New Hampshire and all the mountain lions,” he said. “And I disagree with that in its entirety.”

The committee took no immediate action on either bill. It will eventually schedule a vote on whether to recommend the measures to the full Senate. 

Speaking Out Against Bull Riding

For the third year in a row, NHARL volunteers had vegan boots on the ground at the SNHU Arena in Manchester to protest the Professional Bull Riders (PBR) Tour.

The League led two impactful demonstrations before each scheduled show, Friday, Dec. 15, and Saturday, Dec. 16.

Our posters invited eventgoers to consider the experience of the bull and the very real possibility that animals could get injured and potentially euthanized that evening.

New this year, we also showed video of bulls getting hurt at PBR events, which played on a loop as eventgoers walked past.

While most ticketholders were not visibly receptive to the message that bull riding is animal abuse, we succeeded in handing out more than 200 flyers (shown below), reinforcing the fact the bull riding isn’t fun for everyone.

What You Can Do

  • Don’t buy a ticket!
  • If you live in Manchester, contact us to find out how you can help.
  • Contact the PBR sponsors, including Tractor Supply, to complain.

Venison donations may come with a side of lead

Commentary by Joan O’Brien
NH Bulletin (republished by Seacoast Online)
November 6, 2023

It’s deer hunting season, and once again the New Hampshire Food Bank is promoting its “Hunt for the Hungry” program, encouraging hunters to donate deer meat (venison) to the food bank.

It’s a feel-good program that gets a lot of positive press. What’s not mentioned in the promotion is the very real danger that donated venison could contain lead.

It’s a real possibility, one that Scott Mason, executive director of New Hampshire Fish and Game, touched on at the September New Hampshire Fish and Game Commission meeting. Describing a recent ballistics presentation, he said, “… As the bullet travels through the target it is shedding lead … now you have lead in your meat.”

Lead bullets fragment into hundreds of tiny pieces upon impact. Studies show that fragments too small to detect by sight, touch, or chewing can be present in the flesh of deer shot with lead ammunition.

Hunters are accustomed to discarding meat near the wound site, but lead fragments have been shown to travel up to 18 inches from the point of impact.

This X-ray image above shows more than 450 lead fragments spread through the neck of a deer shot with a lead rifle bullet. (Courtesy of the National Park Service)

Recommendations for safe blood lead levels have been moved lower and lower over the years as researchers learn more about the effects of lead. Today we know that no amount of lead exposure is safe. “Even low levels of lead in blood have been shown to affect learning, ability to pay attention, and academic achievement,” according to the CDC.

While the Hunt for the Hungry program may be well intentioned, venison donations could be putting a vulnerable population at risk.

Nancy Mellitt, director of development at the NH Food Bank, says the issue of lead in venison donations has never come up. “Any meat donated to the food bank is processed by a USDA butcher. … They are experts in that field,” she said.

Beyond the dinner plate, the use of lead ammunition also harms wildlife and the environment. Birds of prey, foxes, and other scavenging animals get lead poisoning from eating contaminated carcasses and “gut piles” left behind by hunters.

Eagles are especially vulnerable to the effects of lead, because their acidic stomachs quickly break down and absorb any ingested lead. A piece of lead the size of a grain of rice is enough to kill an eagle. Lead poisoning can also make animals lethargic and disoriented so that they are at greater risk of fatal accidents.

Ducks, geese, and swans are also highly susceptible to lead poisoning because they naturally consume small rocks (“grit”) to help them grind food in their gizzards. Lead fragments from spent bullets or fishing tackle are easily mistaken for suitable grit.

In 1991, the use of lead shot for waterfowl hunting was banned nationwide. The impact of lead on waterfowl was recognized more than a century earlier, but federal efforts to curb the use of lead ammunition for hunting have a long history of opposition.

The potential for lead contamination in donated venison is not unique to New Hampshire. Almost all states have some sort of game meat donation program. Nationwide, hunters donate thousands of pounds of meat to the needy, yet the risk of lead exposure is largely unaddressed. Few states do more than publish best practices for minimizing lead exposure and warnings that pregnant women and small children are most at risk.

According to Martin Feehan at the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife, “The issue of lead is less of a concern in Massachusetts when it comes to our venison donation program, predominantly because Massachusetts doesn’t have rifle hunting.” Deer hunters in that state either hunt with a bow or use shotguns, which have a slower projectile speed, and thus the bullet, or “slug,” generally stays intact. The majority of deer hunted in Massachusetts are taken by bow hunters, Feehan said.

This author does not recommend bow hunting. While it may eliminate the dangers of lead ammunition, it can mean a long, slow death for the animal. Bow hunters deliberately wait 30 to 60 minutes, and sometimes up to 6 to 12 hours (if the shot was poorly placed), to give the animal time to die.

In states where rifle hunting is allowed, the threat of lead contamination could be eliminated if hunters used non-lead ammunition. Alternatives do exist, including bullets made from copper, and have been shown to be just as effective. (Hunters can learn about these alternatives from organizations such as the North American Non-Lead Partnership.)

New Hampshire Fish and Game could aid the transition to non-lead ammunition by offering hunters incentives to make the switch.

X-raying donated venison to check for lead has been tried in some states, and Minnesota continues the practice. It is an added expense that also highlights the waste that results from hunting with lead ammunition. In the decade before 2021, Minnesota’s lead inspectors rejected 6,700 pounds of deer meat, the equivalent of approximately 168 deer being thrown away.

Another solution to the problems caused by lead ammunition would be not to hunt. Hunting for meat may be better than purchasing the products of industrial animal agriculture, a cruel and environmentally damaging system, but not eating animals at all is even better. It’s possible to get all the nutrition we need without eating meat (a fact easily backed up by Googling “How do vegans get their protein?”).

The protein needs of the NH Food Bank could be met with plant sources, such as beans, chickpeas, nuts, and even the new plant-based meat substitutes. In addition to being healthy and lead free, many plant-based staples can be stored on the shelf almost indefinitely, making them a practical and efficient way to feed the hungry.