Cathie Gregg: Bobcat hunting plan is off the mark

I gave testimony on Monday night at the State House and on Tuesday night in Lancaster on Fish and Game’s proposal for bobcat hunting. I have been a licensed New Hampshire wildlife rehabilitator for 29 years and director at Elaine Conners Center for Wildlife in Madison for 25 years, and I am opposed to hunting bobcat.
We began taking in bobcats at the Elaine Conners Center for Wildlife in 1992 and have a scientific permit to microchip the released cats. In the 24 years since 1992, we have taken in only 17 bobcats. This compares to over 10,000 other animals accepted at the center in the same time period.
I believe, as others do, that the numbers in the study are skewed and the proposal premature. The most cats we have seen at our center in any one year were two. Those years were 2007, 2002, 2001 and 2000. Years that we saw one cat were 2013, 2008, 2004, 1999, 1997, 1996, 1994, 1993 and 1992. All other years we had zero intake. The heaviest bobcat activity was between 1992 and 1997, and in the past seven years, we have taken in only one bobcat.
The University of New Hampshire bobcat study asked the public to report encounters with bobcats, and more than 1,000 reports were received. How many of those were duplicate sightings and how did the study prevent duplicate counting? John Livaitis, lead researcher at UNH, has spoken about the “enthusiasm and passion people expressed for bobcats … and that for many of them, this is an animal that represents the magnificence of nature.”
Was the public told that the information they provided about their encounters would be used to create a bobcat season? When asked in 2008 for my sighting input, I was not told that it would be the foundation for a bobcat hunt. And the general public sharing their bobcat encounters on Facebook and WMUR u-local, does not mean that there is an over-abundance of wildcats in the state.
Last winter, with the permission of Fish and Game and a landowner, I attempted to live-trap a bobcat in a populated area of Conway. The cat was reported in six different locations as a different cat. Yet it was the same male bobcat, making his way along shoveled paths to birdfeeders, trying to survive in a winter where snow was three times his height. Facebook photos showed this cat in various locations within 5 miles, well within his large territory. But one cat sighted by numerous people is still one cat.
When asked the survival rate used in the study, I was told that based on a litter of two or three kittens, the survival rate is 2.2 kittens, which I question because in New Hampshire they are at the top of their range with survival more difficult than southern climates. I feel a 2.2 survival rate is high when most juvenile wildlife don’t make it past their first birthday.
In 1991, I took from Twin Mountain two juvenile siblings that were not going to make it through the winter. They were already starving — in December. Given the estimated two to three kittens per mother, if two kittens had been born and both kittens died it would have been a 100 percent mortality. Even if the mother was alive and had a third with her, this is a 66 percent mortality.
Just because I am a wildlife rehabilitator, that does not mean that I do not understand the realities of hunting. I have a scientific permit to raise fawns and moose calves for release, realizing that these animals will be subject to hunting at some point. But the bobcat has struggled for 27 years to make a comeback from the brink of disappearance in our state. Is it prudent to take an animal from a state of protection to a season of hunting and trapping? The study estimates that there are 1,400 bobcats in the state, and states the population appears to have grown. The proposal says that a conservative season of 50 permits will allow for continued growth at a rate slightly less than it would be without the season. This 50-permit season, however, is the initial season and will likely be increased to adjust for the annual increase in bobcat population.
I have read repeatedly that bobcat harvest occurs in all states and provinces bordering New Hampshire. In recent revisions for wildlife rehabilitation regulations in New Hampshire, rehabbers lobbied for a written test for newcomers, using the case that all bordering states require it before new rehabbers can accept wildlife. This argument did not hold water and the regulations were passed without a test. To say that other states do this is no reason to say that we must.
More than 550 people turned out for the hearing at the State House on Monday night and the overwhelming majority opposed this bobcat season. At the Lancaster hearing on Tuesday night, although there were a good many who spoke in favor of the bill, there were as many hunters and sportsmen who spoke in opposition.
This bill is premature. This protected species is being placed in a lottery season when words like “estimate” and “appear” are being used in their current population count. The proposal is off the mark on a number of levels. I urge the commissioners, before voting, to look at all the facts, not simply the charts and graphs behind this proposal.
If you wish to express your opinion, Fish and Game is accepting comments until Feb. 10 at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..">This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. If you wish to contact your county commissioners, they are listed on the Fish and Game website at The final vote takes place on Wednesday, Feb. 17, at 1 p.m. at Fish and Game headquarters in Concord.

 Cathie Gregg is the executive director of the Elaine Conners Center for Wildlife in Madison.

  • Category: Columns

National Perspective: Rubio slingshots into New Hampshire

By David M. Shribman

What Iowa said Monday night was: Enough. Enough with business as usual. Enough with conventional candidates. Enough with the tired orthodoxies of politics. Enough with the surpassing power of big — big banks, big lobbyists, big labor and even big self-interested local industries like ethanol. And enough with campaigns based on personal appeal, boasts and an aura of inevitability.
Even with that clarity — and that message of insurrection echoed from the Mississippi in the east to the Missouri in the west — there remained great imprecision in Iowa caucuses whose results were reported in tenths of percentage points. And yet, in muddied outcomes that were supposed to render an explicit and coherent early verdict on the 2016 presidential race, this is clear:
It is perceptions rather than percentages that matter. And in those perceptions there are two big winners — but two big losers.

  • Category: Columns

Susan Bruce: Quaint notions

Avoiding the appearance of impropriety used to be a matter of concern, especially for elected officials. Back in the olden days, a mayor or a congressman wouldn’t appoint his biggest campaign donor’s wayward progeny to a high paying job they were utterly unqualified for, because of ethical issues AND the appearance of impropriety.
Every now and then we give ethics a workout. Congressman Frank Guinta’s foolish acceptance of campaign funds from mommy was a thorny ethics problem for him, especially when he so vociferously called former Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter a liar for actually pointing out HIS lies.
On the big stuff we sometimes pay attention. But when it comes to the small, ongoing questionable matters of ethics and conflict of interest, we don’t pay that much attention. Especially when it comes to New Hampshire’s 400-person volunteer legislature. The sheer number of legislators is problematic in itself. The other big problem is that there aren’t many investigative reporters working in our state anymore. Newspapers are cutting back on staff, and trying to figure out how to survive and go forward into a very uncertain media future. In other words, nobody is really watching over the conflicts of interest our 400 state representatives and 24 senators may or may not have.
Are there conflicts of interest? Let’s take a look at a few bills.
HB 1554 is a bill to establish a sports lottery in New Hampshire. There would be lottery games for which one would purchase a ticket. There would also be lottery game machines. The licenses for this sports lottery would be issued to individuals who have valid liquor licenses.
As it happens, the lead sponsor of HB 1554 is Rep. Adam Schroadter, who owns a place that has live music, and serves food and liquor.
HB 1252 is a bill that would permit employers to pay their employees either weekly or biweekly. An employer could petition the labor commissioner to pay even less frequently than that, although it would have to be once a month.
Many low-wage workers work a couple of part-time jobs. These are folks scraping to get by. Paying them even less frequently isn’t going to help them out any. Worse, though, is the impact this can have on tipped employees. Some restaurant/bar owners include credit- card tips left for servers in their paychecks. This means a server might have to wait two weeks to get their tips. Given that the tipped wage is 45 percent of the minimum wage of $7.25 in New Hampshire, these folks aren’t paying their rent with their hourly wage. It does, however, benefit the employer who will spend less doing payroll and cutting checks for employees.
The lead sponsor of this bill is Rep. Laurie Sanborn. She and her husband, State Sen. Andy Sanborn, own a sports bar in Concord. Rep. Schroadter is a sponsor, and so is Rep. Keith Murphy. He owns a bar in Manchester.
HB 1540 is an act relative to shipments of beer. Sponsors? Murphy and Schroadter. HB 114 establishes beer specialty licenses. Sponsors? Murphy.
Murphy is a member of the Free State Project, those wacky armed miscreants moving to New Hampshire to take over our state government and threaten secession. The Free State Project party line is that the libertarians are coming to leave you alone! They want small government! Government small enough to benefit their own businesses and those of their allies.
No one said boo when Rep. Dan McGuire (R - Free State) sponsored a bill that would have caused taxpayers to foot the bill for the millions that would be required to move the Suncook River back after it jumped its streambed during a big storm. It wasn’t a feasible project, according to engineers, but McGuire went ahead. That his house is on the bank of the former riverbed was surely just a coincidence. It seems we don’t really pay much attention to conflicts of interest, and the “appearance of impropriety” is a quaint notion from the past.
The New Hampshire General Court Ethics Booklet is a useful publication. From Part One:

Public Office As A Public Trust
Legislators should treat their office as a public trust, only using the powers and resources of public office to advance public interests, and not to attain personal benefits or pursue any other private interest incompatible with the public good.

This sounds as if legislators shouldn’t be writing bills to benefit themselves or their own businesses. Hmmm. Will these restaurant and bar owners abstain from voting on their own bills? The odds that they will are slim to none — and slim is out of town.
There are a number of minimum wage bills, including bills that would increase the tipped minimum wage. All business owners should abstain from voting on these bills — especially owners of businesses in the hospitality industry. It’s the only industry where customers are expected to directly pay the wages of the staff. Imagine if you had to tip your bank teller or pharmacist. Owners love to howl that if they had to pay employees a decent wage they’d have to raise their prices sky-high. As anyone who has ever traveled knows, other countries seem to make it work. Not only does it work — they all have single-payer health care. Damned socialist hellholes.
In other news, the first-in-the-nation primary is upon us. The calls, the door knocking, the mailings and the ads … oh, it’s almost over.
Given that this is New Hampshire, I expect most readers have met at least one candidate, and been to events, and done some reading and talking and thinking about whom to vote for. I hope you’ll all find time to exercise the franchise on Feb. 9. The New Hampshire Legislature continues to try to solve the non-existent problem of voter fraud by attempting to make voter participation increasingly difficult. Vote while you still can.
The primary circus will leave town, and we can get down to the serious business of our state elections. As big and colorful as the primary stuff is, the folks we elect to our local, county and state governments have a much bigger impact on our daily lives than the president does. Thanks to Citizens United, the cash spigot will be flowing in ways we’ve never seen or imagined. We will all need to pay close attention.

Susan Bruce is a writer and activist who lives in the Mount Washington Valley. Visit her blog at

  • Category: Columns

Mark Hounsell: Kasich for Republicans — Clinton for Democrats


I am an Independent. I am philosophically a Republican. However, since 1984, I have seen the GOP, which was once the “big tent,” where moderates were not threatened, and speaking and dealing with Democrats was not prohibited, slip into a party that has become a shrunken pup-tent that is frayed at the edges. The GOP is searching for a reason to consider themselves relevant.
The Republican Party that once supported men such as Warren Rudman, who was not a far right-wing man by any stretch of the imagination, could in 2016 lose the U.S. Senate seat that is currently held by Kelly Ayotte.
The Democratic Party has moved so far to the left of the political spectrum there is a good chance a socialist (not a Democrat) is being considered by an alarming number of people who seem way to eager to abandon capitalism for socialism.
Lest we forget, the driving force of socialism is the redistribution of wealth from the rich to the poor, believing that such governmental action properly addresses inequality. Capitalism operates on the idea that the very inequality socialists rail against is what causes people and enterprises to move towards productive work and innovation, which in turn spurs a growing and robust economy. The problems that beset the party besieged by extreme Tea Partiers are shared by the party that gathers unwisely close to the Bernie Sanders’ socialist camp.
Together the far right and the far left have torn the canvas upon which the American political art of compromise is painted.
The political difficulties and the resulting drama in both political parties exist because the extremists from the left and the right are shouting at each other from the ledges of opposite cliffs across an empty chasm that was at one time inhabited by centrists and moderates.
I believe we are at a point in our history that presents an excellent opportunity for moderates to re-emerge into both political parties and exert some common-sense resistance upon the extremists who are the source of the considerable angst by the American public. Extremists will always, in some fashion, remain in the mix — hopefully in a diminishing role.
Each New Hampshire presidential primary is in actuality one of two separate events that are held at the same time at the same places across the state. For those who might be interested in who I believe are the best choices for both parties I offer the following. My choices are based, in part, on which candidate is the most capable non-extremist.
HILLARY CLINTON: Apart from the fact she has the most executive experience, foreign experience, needed connections, political savvy and bold leadership skills to be an excellent president, Hillary Clinton is not a socialist. Please remember that throughout his career, up to the day he declared himself a presidential candidate, Bernie Sanders was a proud and vibrant, self-declared socialist. As a socialist he believes there cannot be any private ownership of industry or, if there is any, that government must over-regulate it so as to cause factories across the land to be at the very least quasi-government operations. I am certain that should Sanders become president his selection for the Department of Commerce and the Treasury Department will have the same extreme socialist leanings as he. I am surprised the Clinton campaign does not make that distinction. I suspect she is too kind to be the one that needs to point out the clearest and most relevant difference of them all. One more thing — why have esteemed Vermonters such as Gov. Peter Shumlin, U.S. Sen. Patrick Leahy, former Govs. Madeleine Kunin and Howard Dean, turned their backs on their native son and all publicly endorsed Hillary Clinton? Why have all the sitting Democratic U.S. senators, save Elizabeth Warren who remains neutral, endorsed Clinton? Does that suggest something?
JOHN KASICH: Just to make it clear right off the bat, I reject out of hand the extreme and duplicitous campaigns of the vastly underqualified and inexperienced Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio. To me, that leaves the campaigns of Gov. John Kasich, and former Govs. Jeb Bush and Chris Christie as the only remaining viable choices.
I spent an hour with Gov. Christie. He reminds me of Frank Guinta; I do not believe him, and I do not trust him.
It is refreshing to realize that Jeb Bush has a manner and a disposition more like his father’s than his brother’s. At the same time, it certainly appears to the searching eye that the Bush family closeness to the Saudi absolute monarchy family has not always proven beneficial to America. Their unabashed loyalty to them has resulted in most of our nation’s $17 trillion debt and our attacking the wrong nation in 2003. Historically, it certainly appears Iraqi oil was more precious to the Bush regime as the destruction of the infrastructure of Iraqi black gold was to the Saudis. I do not like the idea of any Bush ever returning to the White House — at least during my lifetime.
That leaves me to consider John Kasich, the sitting two-term governor of Ohio. His 18 years in the U.S. Congress reflects his natural inclination to work well with people of varying opinions. Kasich, who is the conservative Republican who most resembles Ronald Reagan, has been, continues to be and promises to provide for the consensus-building leadership that has been the missing element for the past decade. The extreme political discord resulting in the frustration and anger that fuels the campaigns of Trump and Sanders will be cooled to a large degree by the nomination of the God-fearing, trustworthy and proven conservative Gov. John Kasich of Ohio.
Next Tuesday, during the N.H. Presidential Primary, we will be casting our votes on who we believe are the best choices deserving to be on America’s presidential election ballot in November. America is watching; let’s do ourselves proud, New Hampshire.
“Moderation is best in all things” — Hesiod.
Mark Hounsell is a former N.H. state senator who is witnessing his 17th  presidential primary. His ancestors came to the Granite State in 1629.


  • Category: Columns

Tom McLaughlin: Genuinely misguided

Interviewing Bernie Sanders as part of a team last month, I felt like I knew him. Back in the early 1970s, I worked with a cell of four community-organizing followers of Saul Alinsky. Some could be labeled “red diaper babies” — children of Russian-Jewish communists who emigrated to the United States. They wanted to incite revolution in Lowell, Mass., where I lived at the time. Bernie isn’t as radical as they were, but he’s close. His ideas, and they way he expresses them, brought them all back to me.
They wanted a communist revolution, but I didn’t. I was seduced by some leftist ideology, but it was a youthful flirtation. For them it was serious business. They started a community newspaper called “The Communicator” and recruited me to work on it when the City of Lowell wanted to extend a six-lane highway through the neighborhood where I was living. Together we organized the community against the highway and I became an opponent of Paul Tsongas, who was on the Lowell City Council at the time.
We fought City Hall and we won, but after that John Kerry opened his campaign headquarters a half mile from my house when he ran for Congress from Lowell’s Fifth District. His brother recruited me and I accepted. My Alinskyite friends tried to dissuade me because Kerry was a “liberal.” He would work within the system to change things, not bring down the system as Alinsky advocated.
Kerry lost that election and went law school school. I went back to school to become a history teacher. Then I moved north to raise my children in a cleaner, more rural environment, and here I am. Bernie moved north to Vermont from Brooklyn, N.Y., a bit earlier. I’ve changed, but he hasn’t. I’m a conservative now but he’s still a left-wing socialist.
At the interview, Bernie said our community-organizer president campaigned for him, which makes sense given they’re on the same page politically. Bernie, however, is open about being a socialist while President Obama tries to stay in the closet. With Bernie, what you see is what you get, but not with the president. Obama knew he’d never get elected if he was as open about his intentions as Bernie is. Hillary knows that too. She did her senior thesis at Wellesley on Alinsky.
Bernie would have government take over the entire medical profession with single-payer health care. That was always Obama’s intent, but he pretended it wasn’t. Bernie would take over the entire energy industry as well. That’s Obama’s intention too, but again, he pretends it isn’t. He’s using the EPA to ram through cap-and-trade policies that Congress would not approve. He’d take over the entire fossil fuel sector and he’s begun by shutting down the coal industry.
Bernie is up front about what he believes and what he wants to do. I don’t agree with any of it but I respect his integrity. He’s not devious like the president, and that’s part of his charm. My old red-diaper-baby associates in Lowell were open about what they were up to as well, and they were even more radical than Bernie is. He doesn’t want to bring the United States down. He wants to turn us into another Sweden.
As I’ve written before in this space, I believe our community organizer president is as radical as my old Alinskyite associates. Obama wants to bring down the system, but he’s sneaky about it. As fellow conservative columnist Mark Steyn suggests: “[O]ne way to look at the current ‘leader of the free world’ is this: If he were working for the other side, what exactly would he be doing differently?”
Bernie has spent most of his life in government, and that’s troublesome. The UK’s Guardian, however, says he worked as a carpenter once. That means he worked with his hands with other tradesmen on a job site. That would make him the first president in quite a while who has ever done that. Who was the last? Truman maybe? Coolidge? Lincoln? I don’t think Obama would know which end of a hammer to hold and which end to bang with. Bernie worked on a kibbutz in Israel and would have gotten his hands dirty there too. I like that.
One thing surprised me during the interview though. I watched him closely while others questioned him and he seldom made eye contact. He’d look at them once, briefly, when they asked their questions, then look at something else or look into space as he answered. I believe it was more out of shyness than disingenuousness. As I said, there was nothing devious about him. He may be misguided, but he’s genuine.

Tom McLaughlin lives in Lovell, Maine. He can be reached on his website at

  • Category: Columns