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Nov 10, 2014 12:04 PM

Hike Safe cards now available to help fund Fish and Game rescue teams


CONCORD - Hike Safe Cards are now available for hikers and outdoor enthusiasts who want to voluntarily contribute to the state's rescue fund for lost or endangered hikers.

A new law authorizing New Hampshire Fish and Game Department to sell voluntary "hike safe" cards for $25 per person and $35 per family was signed into law by Gov. Maggie Hassan in July.

Anyone with a card will not be required to repay rescue costs if they need to be rescued due to negligence on their part, regardless of whether they are hiking, boating, cross country skiing, hunting, or engaging in any other outdoor activity.

People may still be liable for rescue expenses if they are reckless or to have intentionally created an emergency situation. The card will cover the calendar year from the date and time of purchase. A family is considered the cardholder, including spouses and minor children.

Anyone with a New Hampshire hunting or fishing license, or a current registration for an off-highway recreational vehicle, snowmobile or boat, is already exempt from repaying rescue costs due to negligence.

The law will take effect Jan. 1, 2015. Cards will be available for purchase only through the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department's license sales website. There is no actual card - purchase information can be printed out by the consumer or saved as a pdf on a smart phone.

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

From 2011 to 2013, Fish and Game has conducted an average of about 180 search and rescue missions each year.

"Being voluntary, it's too soon to say how much revenue the card will generate. It will contribute some revenue to the Search and Rescue Fund going forward, however, which is an important start," said Fish and Game Executive Director Glenn Normandeau.

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 proven difficult to recoup costs in this way.


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