Fish and Game Specialty Teams

Highly Specialized Law Enforcement Responsibilities

The New Hampshire Fish and Game Department is the agency responsible for conducting search and rescue missions within the woodlands and inland waterways throughout New Hampshire.

The New Hampshire Fish and Game Department conducts an average of 190 search and rescue missions annually for victims ranging from hikers, climbers, OHRV operators, children, elderly persons (Alzheimer’s and dementia patients) and subjects of suicide. Fish and Game is assisted in its search and rescue missions by many professional volunteer search and rescue organizations throughout the state. We are greatly appreciative of these considerable efforts. To see a listing of participating organizations, go to

Fish and Game's Specialized Search and Rescue Team is part of the Department's Law Enforcement Division. The team consists of 16 specially trained and skilled Conservation Officers who respond throughout the state to the more challenging calls for search and rescue that require their specialized skills.


Funding Search and Rescue

Funding for search and rescue efforts comes from three sources: a $1 fee on every boat, OHRV, and snowmobile registration, any donations and reimbursements, and sales of voluntary Hike Safe Cards.

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Rigorous Training

Specialized Search and Rescue Team members must meet specific physical agility testing requirements and continually receive specialized training related to conducting search and rescue missions during severe winter weather or adverse and hazardous conditions throughout the year. Team members are trained as Nationally Registered First Responders, with one member at the Paramedic EMS level. Team members are technically skilled in Avalanche Terrain Navigation and Search methods, High Angle Technical Rope (rock and ice) techniques, Winter Alpine Mountaineering skills, Backcountry Survival, Enhanced Land Navigation and GPS documentation, search tactics and Search and Rescue team leadership abilities.


History of Service

Thanks to the vision and determination of Lt. Richard A. Estes, this specialized team was officially established in 1996, so that trained Conservation Officers could augment the search and rescue abilities of the highly trained volunteer search and rescue organizations that routinely assisted in fulfilling Fish and Game's search and rescue responsibilities.

Airboat TeamThe New Hampshire Fish and Game Department currently has two Airboats in service that assist the department in fulfilling its mission…

  • Our newest Airboat, nicknamed “Otter”, was acquired in 2022 after the department was awarded it through a Port Security Grant.  
  • Our original Airboat, nicknamed “Goose”, was acquired in 2004 through a Department of Homeland Security Grant. In fall of 2016, with the assistance of the Umbagog Wildlife Refuge, it was fully restored to its current condition.

An Airboat is a specialized piece of equipment designed to travel where traditional boats cannot. Its unique capabilities assist Conservation Officers in safely and effectively undertaking their duties which include, but are not limited to:

  • Dive Missions
  • Search and Rescue Missions
  • Thin Ice Rescues
  • Fish Stocking
  • Safety Details at Events
  • Specialized Patrol on Lakes and Rivers
  • Division Trainings
  • Assisting Other Agencies


Otter Airboat"Otter" Specifications

  • Make – 2022 Diamondback Airboat
  • Motor – PCM 7.4 LSX
  • Horsepower – 525
  • Boat Length – 20 Feet w/ 24” Grass Rake
  • Boat Beam – 8 Feet


Goose Airboat"Goose" Specifications

  • Make – 2004 Yankee Airboat
  • Motor – Chevrolet 350 ci
  • Horsepower – 300
  • Boat Length – 18 Feet
  • Boat Beam – 8 Feet



Airboat PinThe Airboat Team consists of 8 operators strategically assigned throughout the State. Each operator initially attends a basic airboat operator course and then receives ongoing training that provides each with exposure to operating on surfaces such as deep water, shallow water, swift water, wetlands, ice and snow.

Pursuant to RSA 206:26 XII, The New Hampshire Fish and Game Department is the agency responsible for conducting search and rescue missions within the woodlands and inland waterways throughout the State of New Hampshire.

The New Hampshire Fish and Game Dive Team is part of the Law Enforcement Division’s Search and Rescue Program. The team consists of 14 specially trained and skilled Conservation Officers who respond to drowning incidents and other diverse calls for dive-related assistance throughout the State of New Hampshire.

The mission of the team is to recover drowning victims in the state’s inland waterways. In addition, the team assists federal, local, and state law enforcement agencies with search and recovery of submerged evidence in criminal matters. The team also conducts dive operations serving in a homeland security capacity, upon request.

Specialized Training

Dive Team members must meet specific physical agility testing requirements and continually obtain specialized training related to varied dive missions during all four seasons to include ice diving, current/river dives, and other adverse and hazardous condition diving throughout the year. Members receive annual training for low visibility conditions, evidence retrieval and preservation, safety equipment and techniques, current, saltwater/tidal and wireless communication training.

Equipment utilized by divers includes: D1 Hybrid Dry Suits, Exo 26 Full-Face Diving Masks with wireless communication capabilities that provide divers with the ability to communicate with the surface and other divers.

Long History of Service

badgeThe first NH Fish and Game Department diving activities began in the early 1960s. Conservation Officers James Clark and William Mooney were amongst the first divers to make recovery dives. In 1967, the New Hampshire Fish and Game Law Enforcement Division established the state’s first, and only, recognized dive team. The team was established through the leadership of Conservation Officer Lieutenant Peter B. Lyon and Dive Training Instructor Don Stevens, owner of Atlantic Aquasport in Rye, New Hampshire. The team's mission in those early days mirrored its mission today.

Specialized equipment acquired in recent years has improved the team's search capacity. In 2004, the Team acquired a Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV) through a Homeland Security Grant. This new technology consists of a submersible, remotely propelled video camera that assists in the search for victims and evidence in conditions not conducive to diving.

In 2014, through a grant received from the NH Wildlife Heritage Foundation, the Dive Team was able to purchase a dive boat. The new dive boat has greatly enhanced the abilities of the divers to make successful recoveries through the use of advanced electronics and provide a stable platform from which the fivers are able to safely work.

A Joint Enforcement Agreement (JEA) between the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department's Law Enforcement Division and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)'s Office of Law Enforcement provides federal funding and resources for enforcement patrols, equipment, training and public outreach that help New Hampshire Conservation Officers enforce federal marine fisheries regulations.

The key is preventing and detecting marine violations. Through a combination of at-sea patrols, dockside inspections and public outreach, the JEA focuses on increasing voluntary compliance. It also encourages enforcement of state marine fisheries regulations in nearshore waters, including groundfish, lobster, striped bass and tuna patrols. This joint agreement improves Fish and Game's level of service to commercial harvesters and recreational anglers, as well as other coastal organizations and constituents. It significantly enhances Fish and Game's ability to conserve manage and protect our marine fisheries resources for future generations.

Violations of our coastal natural resources can be reported by using our Operation Game Thief (OGT) online form.

The honor guard is a ceremonial unit comprised of sworn members of the Law Enforcement Division who serve as ambassadors for the Department and the State of New Hampshire.  The Honor Guard reflects the values of the Division by displaying a professional paramilitary image at events involving the presentation of colors to include law enforcement funerals, memorial services, official State functions and community events.