In collaboration with the University of New Hampshire's Wildlife Management and Modeling Lab (WMML) and New Hampshire Fish and Game, the New England Chapter of Backcountry Hunters & Anglers (BHA) is enthusiastic about its support towards substantial two part study on moose and mesocarnivores (such as bobcats, foxes, coyotes, and fishers) in the state of New Hampshire. This study utilizes around 300 camera traps (trail cameras) across the state to investigate population dynamics and provide valuable data for future wildlife management decisions.
Chris Borgatti, the New England Chapter Coordinator, expressed his excitement about the project, saying, "I'm thrilled that the chapter is supporting this study, which will significantly contribute to the management of one of New England's most iconic species." Having spent a day with the WMML team in the field last spring, he was convinced of the project's potential. The chapter has undertaken the responsibility of "adopting" research grids, which involves collecting data by swapping out SD cards, and maintaining the cameras within each grid. This entails checking battery levels, replacing SD cards, programming the cameras, capturing images to monitor vegetation obstructions, and adjusting camera height to account for snowfall. Borgatti mentioned, "This type of work is tailor-made for our members, especially given that of our grids are in the White Mountain National Forest, and a few locations require good bit of hiking to get to."
Moose in New Hampshire are a remarkable conservation success story, with their population rebounding from a low of about 15 individuals in the mid-1800s to between 7,000 and 8,000 in the late 1990s, as reported by NH Fish and Game. However, their numbers have been steadily declining, with the 2015 Moose Assessment estimating the population at between 3,000 and 4,000. This decline is attributed to various factors, including climate change (resulting in winter ticks and forage loss), habitat loss and fragmentation, and increasing deer densities that lead to brainworm mortality. Studies like this one aim to provide insights into moose density and quantify density-habitat relationships, enabling more informed and effective management decisions for the future.
Beyond its contributions to scientific research, the chapter aims to use this partnership to forge relationships with future wildlife professionals, many of whom may not have a background in hunting or fishing. Lily Hall, a UNH M.S. Wildlife & Conservation Biology Student, highlighted the value of this partnership, saying, "The partnership between BHA and our Wildlife Management & Modeling Lab has been great. Through our first meetings, we have connected on how our groups as researchers and hunters both value the land and wildlife as well as having a chance to discuss where various stakeholders might have different perspectives… It is huge to receive help checking our statewide camera trapping grid as it requires a lot of effort to maintain."
Recently, the New England Chapter volunteers completed their fall camera check and look forward to returning in the spring to swap cards and adjust the cameras. In the future, the chapter hopes to increase their support of this project and find other ways to collaborate with UNH’s WMML. If you're interested in getting involved in this project or others dedicated to the conservation of public lands, waters, and wildlife, please ensure that your contact information is up to date in our member portal. If you're not yet a member, now is an excellent time to join and become a part of our conservation efforts.