Hike Safe Cards protect NH hikers

CONCORD – As the summer hiking season gets underway, the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department reminds outdoor enthusiasts to buy their Hike Safe Card before they hit the trails.

Buy the voluntary card at nhfishandgame.com/hikesafe.aspx to support Fish and Game search and rescue efforts and be exempt from liability for repaying search and rescue costs in New Hampshire (unless caused by reckless or intentional behavior).

Hike Safe Cards may only be purchased online. They are $25 for an individual or $35 for a family (parents and minor children), and they’re good through the calendar year.

The department has sold about 1,400 cards, bringing in more than $36,000.

“Whatever outdoor activity you enjoy – hiking, biking, paddling, cross-country skiing or walking the nature trails in your town – the Hike Safe Card is your backup plan for the great outdoors,” Fish and Game Director Glenn Normandeau said.

“Buying a card is a great way to help support Fish and Game’s search and rescue activities.”

Funds raised through sale of the cards go to Fish and Game’s Search and Rescue Fund, with the exception of a $3 transaction fee.

People who possess a valid New Hampshire hunting or fishing license, or a current registration for an off-highway recreational vehicle, snowmobile or boat, are already exempt from repaying rescue costs because of negligence.

“Buying a fishing license gives you the same protection and a chance to go fishing, as well,” Normandeau said.

From 2011-13, Fish and Game conducted an average of about 180 search and rescue missions each year. Under state law, the Fish and Game Department can pursue reimbursement for rescue costs if the person rescued is deemed to have acted negligently.

In practice, it has proved difficult to recoup costs in this way.

In addition to Hike Safe Card sales, Fish and Game’s search and rescue activities are supported by a $1 fee collected for each boat, snowmobile and OHRV registered in New Hampshire.

Over the last several years, annual search and rescue expenditures have exceeded revenues brought in through registrations, adding to the department’s growing deficit.

For more information about the Hike Safe Card, visit wildlife.state.nh.us/safe/index.html.

The New Hampshire Fish and Game Department is the guardian of the state’s fish, wildlife and marine resources and their habitats. For more information, visit wildnh.com.