tough winters. In West Virginia, the fisher reintroduction was
more successful. The population soon expanded its range into
But New Hampshire didn’t give up on the turkeys. In 1975,
the state released another flock near Keene, which was successful. As the flock grew, biologist Ted Walski netted the big birds
and relocated flocks to new habitats across the state, resulting in
their widespread abundance today.
Respect for Black Bears
When Henry began his career at the New Hampshire Fish and
Game Department, there was still a bounty on black bears, considered at the time to be a nuisance to agriculture and a danger
to humans. He pressed the department and the legislature to lift
the bounty and to impose the first restrictions on hunting black
bears. Throughout his career, Henry was dogged in making
the public understand the critical role that wildlife plays in the
overall ecosystem and the importance of studying each species
and their population dynamics. “Henry really loved the wildlife
in our state. He wanted to protect and respect all species,” John
Harrigan observed about his friend.
Instead of killing nuisance bears, Henry began trapping,
tagging, and relocating them to study their behavior in the 1960s
and 1970s. In 1979, Henry hired Eric Orff to be the state’s first
bear biologist; Orff was a protégé of Henry and a member of the
New Hampshire Fish and Game Commission. Together they
studied bear populations and reproduction rates in each county,
crawling into dens to tranquilize and tag or radio-collar sows
and cubs. Orff recounted how Henry worked with Concord veterinarian James Paine to determine the proper drug and dosage
to safely tranquilize a full-grown bear.
They relocated problem bears, including one memorable
bear that was up a tree on the Plymouth State College campus.
In 1983, the black bear was removed from the nuisance list and
designated a “game animal,” with a hunting season set by the
The published proceedings of the 1984 Eastern Black Bear
Management Conference showed how Henry, true to form,
used a data-driven approach in determining management
strategies. He kept detailed records and sliced the data in
creative ways to understand the population and test his theories.
At the 1984 conference, he described a study to determine the
effect on cubs of hunters training their dogs to chase bears
during the summer. After attaching a radio collar to a sow with
three cubs, he tracked the family through the summer when
they were chased by hunting dogs.
“There was no doubt in my mind that this sow could count
to three and that she knew exactly where she left each one of her
cubs,” Henry wrote. “If anyone else has similar data, we would
appreciate access to it for a sample of one is not very conclusive.”
His report ended with a similar plea for more data on black bear
reproduction: age, frequency of birth, and annual production
by age class. Henry wanted to base his decisions on hard data
whenever he could.
Protecting and Parenting Many Creatures
The timber rattlesnake is listed as very rare and endangered in
New Hampshire. Its habitat is “critically imperiled,” with only
one breeding colony known to exist in the state. Henry Laramie
kept the rattler den’s location secret for many years. When there
were no sightings for long periods, he would worry the colony
might have been wiped out. Orff told me that two weeks before
Henry’s death in 2002, while very ill with cancer, he was cheered
up by the news that a timber rattler had been sighted, confirming the rare species was still hanging on.
Henry’s daughter Sally recalled a childhood filled with animals brought back to the house for nursing and rehabilitation.
Henry and his wife, Ellen, were foster parents to many orphaned
or injured animals at their home in Pembroke. Sally remembers
that her parents raised a baby beaver named Snuffles, feeding
it with a bottle and letting it swim in the sink. When he grew
larger, Snuffles would go out to swim in the pond and gnaw on
the door frame to ask to come back into the house.
They also raised four bear cubs in the house over the years,
including one juvenile weighing over 100 pounds that frightened Ellen when it escaped the basement and she found it under
the kitchen table having a stolen snack.
One year, Henry was trying to rehabilitate an injured bobcat
when it bit through his thumb. Rather than kill the bobcat to
test it for rabies, Henry opted to take the full course of rabies
shots. Henry felt the bobcat was justified in defending itself,
even though he suffered permanent damage to his thumb. After
his retirement, Henry also strongly opposed a proposal to allow
bobcat hunting and worked hard to defeat it.
Active After Retirement
“After he retired, Henry would come to the New Hampshire
Fish and Game Commission meetings and sit in the front row,
picking us apart,” recalled Bing Judd. “He was a character. He
worked hard and knew what the data were telling him. He
always had something to say about whether the number of per-
mits should go up or down. Henry spoke his mind.”
Kent Gustafson, who now is wildlife program supervisor
with the state’s Fish and Game Department, noted that, “long
after he retired, Henry would come into the office and tell us
what we were doing wrong. And often, he was right. This was
part of his character.”
Bill Pepin, Henry’s son-in-law, went up to Henry’s camp with
him for over 20 years. They hunted deer (neither ever drew a
moose permit), tracked moose, and collected the skulls and old
tools which now adorn the camp’s walls. According to Pepin,
Henry loved hunting with a muzzleloader, nicknamed a “smoke
pole,” hence the name of his camp. When Henry’s health was
failing during a long battle with cancer, Bill brought him up to
his beloved camp as often as he could.
Henry died in 2002. Nine years later, Eric Orff lobbied for and
succeeded in getting a bill introduced to the state legislature that
renamed the 3,000-acre Enfield Wildlife Management Area the