For safety sake, please share the woods responsibly

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When you go walking in the woods during hunting season, walk only on trails and wear blaze orange. (Courtesy photo)

CONCORD, NH - Fall is officially here, which means many of us are outside enjoying the weather and scenery -- and also that hunting and trapping seasons are underway in New Hampshire. With that in mind, Fish and Game biologists remind all users of public and private lands in the state to be aware of multiple uses that may be taking place.

For example, state Wildlife Management Areas (WMAs) are lands that have been purchased with state and federal funds provided by license fees and excise taxes paid by people purchasing hunting, trapping and fishing licenses and equipment. Anyone walking a dog, or using a WMA for other non-hunting activities, should be aware of hunting and trapping seasons as they use these areas.

"New Hampshire has a long tradition of sharing the outdoors," says Patrick Tate, a Wildlife Biologist and the Furbearer Project Leader for the NH Fish and Game Department. "During the hunting and trapping seasons, it's sensible to stay on established trails and wear an article of blaze orange clothing when recreating in rural areas." On WMAs, dog walkers are also encouraged to keep their dogs on a leash during open trapping seasons.

Trapping seasons in New Hampshire typically run from October through March statewide, with the bulk of trapping activity on land occurring during the months of November and December. Trapping is a highly regulated activity in which a small number of people participate - about 550 licenses were sold in 2015. Our skilled trappers provide the state with important ecological and societal benefits, such as managing abundant furbearer populations, at no cost. This long-standing part of New Hampshire's cultural heritage remains relevant and necessary today, preventing flooding damage by beavers, minimizing disease risks and providing critical tools for wildlife management.

Trapping may take place on public or private lands. "To set traps on privately owned land, trappers must possess and file written landowner permission," explains Tate. "Furthermore, people should be aware that State Law prohibits traps from being set or arranged in a public way, cart road or path commonly used as a passageway by human beings or domestic animals."

Trappers are a unique group among New Hampshire's outdoor enthusiasts, having an unparalleled eye for picking up on natural surroundings and understanding wildlife behavior. Though relatively few in numbers, trappers provide an extremely valuable service to society by helping to manage wildlife populations and collect biological samples. They also contribute to public safety by maintaining beaver populations at manageable levels, thus preventing flooding of public roadways and urban areas. Trapping overall helps to keep furbearer populations at healthy levels, preventing over-population, which can significantly increase the risk of spreading diseases like rabies and canine distemper. With specialized skills and training and a deep connection to the natural world, trappers are a vital resource for a state that aspires to strike a balance between wildlife conservation and wildlife/human conflict management.

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