Program discusses 350 years of NH wildlife, natural habitat

MERRIMACK – A time traveler from the 1600s would find much that is familiar in present-day New Hampshire, especially wildlife such as deer, coyote, moose and beaver and their habitat – miles upon miles of pine and hardwood forests.

But if the same time traveler made a stop here in the 19th century, the landscape would seem almost unrecognizable. Beginning around 1800, most of New Hampshire forests were cleared for farm and pastureland. Even the White Mountains were stripped of their trees.

Then after the Civil War, there were more changes. People abandoned farms and moved away from the New England countryside in search of jobs in the cities or more fertile and less rocky farmland farther west.

So the forests gradually came back, and so did the wildlife. And people’s attitude toward the land and wildlife changed, too, from exploitation to appreciation and conservation.

Andy Powell’s attitude is definitely in the latter category.

Powell lives in Merrimack, and owns land here and in Danbury, and manages both for the sake of wildlife.

As a speaker for the University of New Hampshire’s "Speaking for Wildlife" program, he recently gave a presentation at the Merrimack Public Library called "350 Years of New Hampshire Wildlife."

Earlier attitudes were all about food and money, he said, and as soon as top hats made from beaver hides became the rage in Europe, New World trappers began to decimate the beaver population until there were almost none left.

Deer and wild birds were a source of food, taken without limits, and fox, mountain lion, skunk, marten and raccoon were considered either a nuisance or a threat and treated accordingly.

Then, as men cleared woods into farmland, the moose and deer retreated, and new birds, including bobolinks and upland sandpipers, came on the scene.

At one point there were only an estimated 50 moose left in New Hampshire. The passenger pigeon was exterminated. Wolves and cougar were completely gone, and beaver and fisher cats almost gone.

But there were people who noticed, and they spurred conservation efforts, Powell said.

In 1865, New Hampshire created its Fish and Game Department, although it didn’t enact hunting seasons or enforce regulations until the 20th century. In 1937, Congress put a 10 percent tax on firearms, with the money going back to the states for habitat management and species conservation.

Now, with 83 percent of New Hampshire covered with forest, some wild animals are thriving.

A wild turkey program that began with 25 birds in 1975 has grown to 40,000.

"Fifteen years ago, you’d probably stop if you saw them,"

Program discusses 350 years of NH wildlife, natural habitat

MERRIMACK – A time traveler from the 1600s would find much that is familiar in present-day New Hampshire, especially wildlife such as deer, coyote, moose and beaver and their habitat – miles upon miles of pine and hardwood forests.

But if the same time traveler made a stop here in the 19th century, the landscape would seem almost unrecognizable. Beginning around 1800, most of New Hampshire forests were cleared for farm and pastureland. Even the White Mountains were stripped of their trees.

Then after the Civil War, there were more changes. People abandoned farms and moved away from the New England countryside in search of jobs in the cities or more fertile and less rocky farmland farther west.

So the forests gradually came back, and so did the wildlife. And people’s attitude toward the land and wildlife changed, too, from exploitation to appreciation and conservation.

Andy Powell’s attitude is definitely in the latter category.

Powell lives in Merrimack, and owns land here and in Danbury, and manages both for the sake of wildlife.

As a speaker for the University of New Hampshire’s "Speaking for Wildlife" program, he recently gave a presentation at the Merrimack Public Library called "350 Years of New Hampshire Wildlife."

Earlier attitudes were all about food and money, he said, and as soon as top hats made from beaver hides became the rage in Europe, New World trappers began to decimate the beaver population until there were almost none left.

Deer and wild birds were a source of food, taken without limits, and fox, mountain lion, skunk, marten and raccoon were considered either a nuisance or a threat and treated accordingly.

Then, as men cleared woods into farmland, the moose and deer retreated, and new birds, including bobolinks and upland sandpipers, came on the scene.

At one point there were only an estimated 50 moose left in New Hampshire. The passenger pigeon was exterminated. Wolves and cougar were completely gone, and beaver and fisher cats almost gone.

But there were people who noticed, and they spurred conservation efforts, Powell said.

In 1865, New Hampshire created its Fish and Game Department, although it didn’t enact hunting seasons or enforce regulations until the 20th century. In 1937, Congress put a 10 percent tax on firearms, with the money going back to the states for habitat management and species conservation.

Now, with 83 percent of New Hampshire covered with forest, some wild animals are thriving.

A wild turkey program that began with 25 birds in 1975 has grown to 40,000.

"Fifteen years ago, you’d probably stop if you saw them,"

Program discusses 350 years of NH wildlife, natural habitat

MERRIMACK – A time traveler from the 1600s would find much that is familiar in present-day New Hampshire, especially wildlife such as deer, coyote, moose and beaver and their habitat – miles upon miles of pine and hardwood forests.

But if the same time traveler made a stop here in the 19th century, the landscape would seem almost unrecognizable. Beginning around 1800, most of New Hampshire forests were cleared for farm and pastureland. Even the White Mountains were stripped of their trees.

Then after the Civil War, there were more changes. People abandoned farms and moved away from the New England countryside in search of jobs in the cities or more fertile and less rocky farmland farther west.

So the forests gradually came back, and so did the wildlife. And people’s attitude toward the land and wildlife changed, too, from exploitation to appreciation and conservation.

Andy Powell’s attitude is definitely in the latter category.

Powell lives in Merrimack, and owns land here and in Danbury, and manages both for the sake of wildlife.

As a speaker for the University of New Hampshire’s "Speaking for Wildlife" program, he recently gave a presentation at the Merrimack Public Library called "350 Years of New Hampshire Wildlife."

Earlier attitudes were all about food and money, he said, and as soon as top hats made from beaver hides became the rage in Europe, New World trappers began to decimate the beaver population until there were almost none left.

Deer and wild birds were a source of food, taken without limits, and fox, mountain lion, skunk, marten and raccoon were considered either a nuisance or a threat and treated accordingly.

Then, as men cleared woods into farmland, the moose and deer retreated, and new birds, including bobolinks and upland sandpipers, came on the scene.

At one point there were only an estimated 50 moose left in New Hampshire. The passenger pigeon was exterminated. Wolves and cougar were completely gone, and beaver and fisher cats almost gone.

But there were people who noticed, and they spurred conservation efforts, Powell said.

In 1865, New Hampshire created its Fish and Game Department, although it didn’t enact hunting seasons or enforce regulations until the 20th century. In 1937, Congress put a 10 percent tax on firearms, with the money going back to the states for habitat management and species conservation.

Now, with 83 percent of New Hampshire covered with forest, some wild animals are thriving.

A wild turkey program that began with 25 birds in 1975 has grown to 40,000.

"Fifteen years ago, you’d probably stop if you saw them,"