Bill would make more hikers liable for rescue costs

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New Hampshire lawmakers want to make it easier for the Fish and Game Department to recoup costs for rescuing stranded hikers.

Currently, the agency has to prove a hiker’s behavior was reckless or intentional.

Officials said changing the law could double the number of rescues that could be reimbursed. In a decade, only about 15 hikers have been billed, and Fish and Game estimates that the changes would have allowed it to bill 40 hikers.

The most that the department can recoup for any rescue is $10,000. Officials say much of that money buys equipment, but it’s also used to train rescuers who are risking everything because someone else may have made a bad decision.

The bill includes a provision to suspend a hiker’s driver’s license after 30 days until the hiker pays the fee. Because of an arrangement with neighboring states, New Hampshire could suspend licenses from other states.

The House Fish and Game Committee plans to vote on the plan on March 4th.

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