Medford, OR -(Ammoland.com)- The Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission today adopted the 2015 Oregon Big Game Regulations, which includes increasing the statewide cougar quota.
The Commission turned down a staff recommendation to add a new spring bear hunt in Southwest Oregon. The Siskiyou Plus hunt would have added 250 tags to the spring season.
Major changes include several modifications to archery season regulations as a result of the recent Archery Review Public Advisory Committee process, including:
- Adding three controlled archery deer hunts in Walla Walla, Mount Emily and Wenaha units, and removal of the requirement to have a controlled elk archery tag to deer hunt. The tag will also be valid during the general archery season.
- Adding a new November controlled archery white-tailed deer hunt in the Wenaha unit (estimate 30 tags, will be the hunters only archery deer opportunity).
- Severing the link between archery deer and elk tags in Sled Springs, Chesnimnus, Maury, and Warner units, meaning an archery elk tag will no longer be required to hunt deer.
- Adding new Maury and Warner unit controlled archery elk hunts. Tags will also be valid during the general archery season.
- Returning Sled Springs, Chesnimnus, and Steens Mountain units to the general archery deer season.
Other changes include:
- Increasing the statewide cougar quota from 777 to 970 to reflect increasing cougar populations, more damage and public safety issues from cougar in some areas, and deer and elk populations that are below objectives in many areas.
- Adding one week to the Saddle Mountain unit late archery deer hunt and ending a long-standing closure for deer hunting in the unit north of the Burlington Northern tracks. The area was closed years ago to protect Columbian White-Tailed deer. The deer population has expanded, making the closure unnecessary.
- Added the Keating unit and removed the Stott Mountain unit from areas where archery hunters and hunters with a disability permit may take an antlerless elk during bull seasons.
The Commission also adopted a recruitment plan for a new agency director. The plan calls for a national search to replace Roy Elicker who recently retired to take a position with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The recruitment will be open from November 3 through December 5, 2014. Finalists will be interviewed by the Commission in February. The recruitment process will begin with a public survey regarding the characteristics and qualities the new director should have. The public will also have the opportunity meet the final candidates in February. The survey and the recruitment plan will be available on the ODFW website next week.
The Commission was also briefed on potential delisting of wolves in eastern Oregon from the state Endangered Species Act. The Oregon Wolf Plan, adopted in 2005, calls for considering delisting when eastern Oregon has four breeding pairs for three consecutive years. Staff has documented at least four packs reproducing in the previous two consecutive years. If that trend continues, the delisting process would begin in April 2015. Before delisting could occur, the Commission must determine that wolf populations in eastern Oregon are not likely to become endangered, existing state and federal regulations are adequate to protect wolves, and that other criteria are met.
In other business, the Commission:
- Approved a three-year pilot program that will allow the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) to make specific short-term repairs to culverts in western Oregon without having to meet all requirements for fish passage. As part of the pilot program, ODOT would improve fish passage at each site they repair, and pay $1.8 million into an ODFW-managed account that would fund high priority fish passage projects. In addition, ODOT would fund a new transportation liaison position, managed by ODFW, to coordinate implementation of the agreement. ODOT and ODFW staff described the pilot as a “win-win” that allows ODOT to make critical culvert repairs at a lower cost while protecting public safety, fish passage and watershed health.
- Held a joint meeting with the California Fish and Game Commission. Thursday’s meeting included briefings on Klamath Basin Restoration, ocean acidification and temperature changes, the Oregon Wolf Conservation and Management Plan and other issues of interest to both states.
- Recognized the contributions of the Bob and Phyllis Mace family to wildlife in Oregon. The Mace family established a trust fund to benefit fish and wildlife and contributed millions of dollars to watchable wildlife efforts, including the Bob and Phyllis Mace Watchable Wildlife Center at the Jackson County Fairgrounds.
About The Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission
The Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission is the policy-making body for fish and wildlife issues in Oregon. It usually meets monthly. The next meeting is Dec. 5 in Salem.