Peterborough to install 'No hunting' sign on town property – Monadnock Ledger Transcript

The entrance to the Seccombe Trail off of Union Street in Peterborough. —STAFF PHOTO BY SCOTT MERRILL
A tree stand in the woods between Union Street and MacDowell Road in Peterborough is on recreation property, which is overseen by the town. Hunting is prohibited in this area of town. —STAFF PHOTO BY SCOTT MERRILL
The subject of hunting came up at the Peterborough Select Board meeting Nov. 1 when Recreation Director Lisa Betz received the board’s permission to post “No hunting” signs on property between Union Street and MacDowell Road after spotting a tree stand in the woods. 
The “rule of thumb” in New Hampshire is that all state, federal, municipal, county and private land is open to hunting unless it is posted against hunting, according to New Hampshire Fish and Game on their website. Peterborough does not permit hunting on all recreational property owned by the town.
Betz, who became recreation director after a career in Peterborough as the town’s programmer, said that a recent routine walk through the property with a risk-management representative from Primex, which manages the town’s insurance liability, led to the discovery of a tree stand – possibly used for hunting according to the representative – on the property. The stand is located off the Seccombe Trail near the Seccombe cemetery.
“[Primex] suggested I check with the local police and New Hampshire Fish and Game,” Betz said, adding that she was told tree stands need to be tagged and granted written permission. “I reached out to Peterborough Police Chief  Scott Guinard and he knew nothing about it. So here we are.”
There are four general categories of land ownership in the state, all of which allow hunting with a few exceptions. In the White Mountain National Forest, which comprises nearly 10 percent of the land area in the state, most of the land is open to hunting, except for the tourist spots and campgrounds. On state lands and state-managed lands, New Hampshire Fish and Game Department owns or has hunting rights to nearly 30,000 acres distributed over nearly 100 tracts, most of which are called Wildlife Management Areas. 
Eighty percent of New Hampshire’s forestland is privately owned and remains open. According to New Hampshire Fish and Game, many private lands, especially larger tracts, remain open to hunters, unless posted against hunting. 
Municipalities also have their own rules and regulations that pertain to hunting, and according to Peterborough’s code, the town’s restrictions on hunting or the discharge of weapons applies to various sections of town, but the parcel off Union Street is not listed in the ordinance. The discharge of firearms for the purpose of hunting is permitted outside of a 300-foot buffer on either side of the recreation trails. Betz said she needed the Select Board’s permission because they oversee all properties in town.
“The tree stand wasn’t very far from the road,” she said, adding that the stand may have been 300 yards from MacDowell and another property but not from the road. “We should not have any hunting out there is my belief.”
Betz was asked by board member Tyler Ward whether the tree stand could be for bird-watching, but Betz said she didn’t believe that to be the case. 
“The Primex risk manager thought it was a substantial stand and not just something jury-rigged to watch birds,” she said. 
Select Board member William Kennedy said he hopes the stand wasn’t used for hunting, but there was acknowledgment by Town Administrator Nicole MacStay that the area has a significant population of deer. The Select Board granted Betz’s request to post the signs. Following the posting, MacStay said the tree stand could be dismantled. 
Recreation Department land in Peterborough includes the 35.8-acre parcel between 71 Union St. and MacDowell Road, a nine-acre parcel at 64 Union Street, a four-acre parcel at 25 Elm St. where the Recreation Center is located and 12 acres on Cunninhgam Pond Road. 
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