Last summer, at the Deerfield Fair, hidden among the rides and games and concessions, a grave threat to public safety was being perpetrated. A dangerous wild animal was not only being shown to the public, but rides were being offered atop this fearsome beast.
The critter in question? A camel.
Under New Hampshire state law, a camel is classified as a wild animal, not a domesticated one. And as such, it can only be displayed to the public under very controlled circumstances. For example, it can only be handled by qualified, certified wildlife handlers. And public contact with the creature is strictly forbidden.
An alert New Hampshire Fish & Game officer spotted the violation, and reluctantly acted to end the camel rides.
But this is New Hampshire. The officer knew his duty, but he also had a lick of common sense. He told his bosses what he’d done and why, and they did the unthinkable: they started looking into changing the rules to reflect reality.
Today, the Fish & Game is soliciting public comments on whether camels should remain listed as wildlife, or be reclassified as domesticated animals. The agency has said it favors the change, but law requires they listen to public input before making the change.
I’m not surprised that the law is on the books, but the response is surprising to me. I guess I’m jaded by all the attention I pay to Massachusetts. The idea of a state agency taking such radical steps as listening to common sense, or voluntarily giving up authority, strikes me as a bit radical.
But when I really look at it, it reminds me of just why I’m proud to call Cow Hampshire home — a state where every now and then the government does the right thing, for the right reasons, and without farting around about it.