Legislative Bills Seeing Action
SB 6 Modifies Trap Check Requirements
What the bill does: SB 6 would modify trap check requirements by changing the current 48-hour trap check period to every 24 hours. It would also require signage be posted within five feet of any trap set on public land that warns the public of the existence and location of the trap and the danger to human and animal safety posed by the trap.
Bill Status: This bill was scheduled for a hearing in early January but was abruptly pulled off the agenda. The bill has not been rescheduled for a hearing as of this writing.
OHA is opposed to the bill.
SB 372 Wildlife Salvage Permits
What the bill does: SB 372 requires the Fish and Wildlife Commission to adopt rules for issuance of wildlife salvage permits to salvage deer or elk accidentally killed as result of vehicle collision.
Bill Status: A hearing was held on the bill in early January. There are several raised about the bill and amendments may be drafted to ensure that the meat would be for human consumption only and that the Oregon Department of Agriculture, the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife and the Oregon State Police are not required to certify the meat. The bill has not been rescheduled for a hearing as of this writing.
OHA is watching this bill with interest.
HB 2634 Disabilities Under Wildlife Laws
What the bill does: The bill redefines the disabilities definition under the wildlife laws and establishes a new disabilities permit.
Bill Status: The bill had a hearing in February. One of the issues raised at the hearing on the bill was how this bill would be implemented and what the impact on the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife would be. The bill has not been scheduled for another hearing as of this writing.
OHA has serious concerns about this bill as written.
HB 2365 Task Force on Transfer of Federal Land Ownership in Oregon
What the bill does: This bill establishes a Task Force on the Transfer of Federal Land Ownership in Oregon.
Bill Status: This bill had a hearing in mid-February. The bill generated a great deal of interest, but not a great deal of support. The chair of committee that heard the bill, Rep. Brain Clem (D-Salem) has since said that the bill is dead.
OHA is opposed to the bill.
HB 2566 – Adult Hunter Mentor Program
What the bill does: This is an OHA bill. The bill in its original form gave ODFW the authority to adopt a hunter mentoring program. At the request of OHA an amendment has been drafted that will extend the youth mentor program through age 17.
Bill Status: The bill has been scheduled for a hearing on March 7th before the House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee.
This is an OHA bill.
Other Bill Updates
House Bill 2487 – Deer or Elk Tag Guarantee Bill
What the bill does: The bill would require the ODFW Commission to, as part of the current preference point system for controlled hunt permits, guarantee issuance of one deer or elk controlled hunt permit to any applicant who is 75 years of age or older and has a resident annual pioneer license.
Bill Status: The bill has not been scheduled for a hearing.
HB 2107 – Cougar Hunting with Dogs Bill
What the bill does: This is an OHA cougar bill that OHA asked the House Interim Committee on Agriculture and Natural Resources to introduce this session. HB 2107 would allow a county to exempt itself from the banning of the use of dogs to hunt or pursue cougars if voters approved a county measure proposed by initiative petition or referred to the people by the governing body of the county.
Bill Status: The is in the House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee awaiting to be scheduled for a hearing.
This is an OHA bill.
SB 458 Cougar/Dog Controlled Hunt Program
What this bill does: The bill requires the ODFW Commission to adopt a controlled hunt program for hunting cougars with dogs.
Bill Status: The bill is in the Senate Environment and Natural Resources Committee awaiting to be scheduled for a hearing.
What the bill does: The bill provides that county is exempt from applicability of statute banning use of dogs to hunt or pursue cougars if voters approve county measure proposed by initiative petition or referred to people by governing body of county.
Bill Status: The bill is in the House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee awaiting to be scheduled for a hearing.
What the bill does: The bill provides that county is exempt from applicability of statute banning use of dogs to hunt or pursue cougars if voters approve county measure proposed by initiative petition or through referred to people by governing body of county.
Bill Status: The bill is in the Senate Natural Resources Committee awaiting to be scheduled for a hearing.
Elliott State Forest Update
Submitted by OHA staff: Jim Akenson, Ken McCall, Al Elkins
The Department of State Lands (DSL) Board has voted 2 to 1 to support the privatization of the Elliott Forest and sell it to a logging company, which bid ($221 is the offered price in the proposal) in conjunction with some Native American tribes and The Conservation Fund. The lone no vote was Governor Brown, with Secretary of State Dennis Richardson and State Treasurer Tobias Read both voting in favor of accepting the bid. DSL staff was then directed to move forward with negotiating the terms of the sale of the Elliott State Forest.
Brown will look at options to keep the Elliott State Forest as public state land.
State Treasurer Reed proposed amendments to the plan which included an option to buy back $25 million of the acreage for use as a possible state park or wildlife refuge. He also added a requirement to log the land under restrictive standards.
At the meeting OHA submitted a statement that in part said:
“The Oregon Hunters Association (OHA) appreciates the opportunity to comment on the future of the Elliott State Forest in Southwest Oregon. In particular, OHA is strongly in support of this property remaining in public ownership and available to hunters and a host of other recreationalists in Oregon.
Historically, hunting has been an important use of Elliott Forest and our organization would like to see that heritage maintained. We understand that the State Land Board is evaluating ownership options for this land which, to this date, has been managed by the Common School Trust. OHA opposes the privatization of the Elliott State Forest for fear of lost access for hunters, as well as for conservation concerns given the unique ecological condition of this forest within the broader Oregon Coast Range. “
OHA meets with Metro to discuss no-hunting policy
OHA met with Metro officials in November to discuss the prohibition of hunting on property recently purchased by the agency. The prohibition, first brought to the attention of the OHA board in August by OHA member Bryan Cook, was first aired publicly at a hearing in September before the House Interim Committee on Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee in Salem.
The meeting with Metro in November was a continuation of the hunting prohibition policy discussion: the recently purchased property has traditionally been open to hunting prior to the purchase. OHA is interested in re-opening hunting as a legitimate form of recreation, and as a tool to manage wildlife numbers through cooperation with ODFW.
What’s next? Metro will conduct a periodic review of its recreational usage policies in 2017 via a review committee made up, in part, of groups who have an interest in using the Metro properties for recreation. OHA has been invited to join that group. Metro has asked for more information about the available science to model predicted levels of expected animal damage related to populations (i.e. forage needs), and for examples of management plans for mixed use including hunting as part of recreation models.
OHA will provide examples of both as conversations continue.
Bid received to buy Elliott Forest
The Division of State Lands (DSL) has received a bid to purchase the Elliott State Forest from Lone Rock Timber Management as the lead participant in conjunction with the Cow Creek Band of Umpqua Tribe of Indians, and The Confederated Tribes of Coos, Lower Umpqua and Siuslaw Indians.
Public comment on the proposal will be taken by the DSL board in December. OHA is currently reviewing the proposal.
After years of declining logging, the Elliott Forest could not do what state statutes said it must do, and that was raise money for the Common School Fund. So the DSL started a very long process to sell the property and open public bidding to transfer the forest ownership.
After the process was announced, more than 30 groups submitted “expressions of interest” in acquiring the 84,000 acres, which was appraised at $220.8 million.
Bids on the property were accepted in November and one bid was received by DSL.
ODFW funding: new options for sharing the tab
A task force was created during the 2015 Legislative Session (HB 2402) to identify funding alternatives for ODFW that would help shift some of the agency funding responsibility away from traditional sources such as license fees. After months of deliberations, the task force recommended these two funding sources: an income tax surcharge, and a 2-percent tax on bottled beverages. The original recommendation for the income tax surcharge included an exemption for those who held current hunting and fishing licenses. OHA supported the income tax surcharge with the exemption.
As discussions continued, the exemption for those who hold hunting and fishing licenses was removed. In other words, the income tax surcharge would now apply to everyone.
OHA adopted a position to accept the task force report without endorsing an income tax surcharge, with the beverage tax as the preferred alternative.
Fighting Like Cats and Dogs
By Jim Akenson
OHA Conservation Director
While OHA toils to maintain Oregon’s deer and elk herds, predators are under ever-increasing protection efforts from environmental groups. We face a constant battle to maintain our precious deer, elk, and antelope hunting opportunities, and one crucial component for that is an active predator management program that not only includes cougars, black bears and wolves, but also coyotes and bobcats.
Ideally, regulated hunting eventually will apply to all these predatory species – be they game, furbearers or unprotected mammals by definition. In addition, OHA will remain vigilant on the trapping issue in our state and lend support to our bobcat hunting members who use methods involving either traps or hounds.
The month of December will bring the last opportunity for the hunting community to give input on the Wolf Plan, and OHA is an active participant in a stakeholder group organized by ODFW.
Earlier meetings have danced around the topic of hunting wolves once the numbers warrant it, but the time is now to get a foot in the door for near-future wolf management as game animals.
Wolves are considered a “special status” big game species in Oregon, which means as populations grow, they are eligible to be hunted, or managed, just like other carnivore game species such as bears and cougars. The “special status” implies that the population provisions within the plan must be met to do careful management, and the big game aspect considers them a species that potentially can be hunted in the future. This is critical to our future hunting opportunities; just ask our colleagues in Idaho!
On the cat side of the battle (cougars in this case), it’s essential that we maintain current hunting opportunities and apply more focused removals where necessary. Previously we have referred to these as “target areas,” but we would be wise to reference them as cougar “special management zones,” because there will be more data-science obtained and applied for these areas as part of the Cougar Plan revision. The input process is different for the “big cats” than the “big dogs,” but the use of hunting as a time-tested management tool is the same – just applied on different scales.
There will be another opportunity for public input to the Fish and Wildlife Commission in coming months once these two plans are near completion, and OHA will make sure our concerns are heard and that the best science prevails in managing our wildlife.
Wolf Conservation Plan Timeline
Here is the revised Wolf Conservation Plan revision timeline:
· August 2016: Salem FW Commission Meeting: Update on Wolf Conservation Stakeholder meetings and Wolf Conservation Plan issue discussions.
· October 2016: La Grande FW Commission Meeting: Wolf Conservation Plan policy guidance & public testimony
· Dec 2016: Salem FW Commission Meeting: Draft Wolf Plan produced (informational exhibit and public testimony)
· 2017: Wolf Plan approval.