Oregon Commission Sets Big Game Tags and Coastal Coho Fishing Seasons

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Oregon Commission Sets Big Game Tags and Coastal Coho Fishing Seasons
Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife
Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife

Oregon  -(Ammoland.com)- The Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission adopted 137,015 controlled hunt big game tags for this fall’s hunting season at today’s meeting in Salem.

Draw results will be available on June 20.

The Commission also considered changes to the 2016 big game hunting regulations. While it won’t make a final decision until the October meeting, the Commission indicated support for most staff proposals including:

  • A new Special Opportunity/ Premium Hunt series that would offer an opportunity to draw an additional deer, elk, or pronghorn tag with a longer season. These tags would be very limited but available in most areas. Tags would be allocated through the regular controlled hunt draw process but would not use preference points.
  • Changing renewal period for hunters with a disability permit from every two years to every five years.
  • Conducting new and continued cougar target areas to reduce cougar damage to livestock, limit human safety problems, and reduce impacts on ungulate populations. Units still under consideration are: Melrose, SW McKenzie/NW Indigo, South Paulina/N Wagontire, Steens Mtn, Warner, and Interstate.
  • Increasing Wenaha any-bull rifle and archer tags to 40 (from 35), a reduction from original staff proposal to allow 45 tags. (Hunts #256Y1 and 256R1.)

The Commission heard public testimony in favor of lighted nocks for archery hunters and indicated support for the concept, and has asked staff to ensure the concept is consistent with existing statutory authority.

The Commission also set wild coho salmon seasons for the Tillamook, Nestucca, Siletz, Yaquina, Alsea, Siuslaw, Umpqua, Coos and Coquille basins, Beaver and Floras creeks and Tenmile lakes (Siltcoos and Tahkenitch lakes remain open under permanent regulations).

Due to low projected returns, the Nehalem River will be closed to wild coho harvest in 2015, though anglers will be able to harvest hatchery coho thanks to an existing hatchery coho program on the river.

Daily and seasonal bag limits in open areas will be similar to recent years. However, because fewer Endangered Species Act impacts are available in 2015, seasons in some basins will be shorter than in 2013 and 2014.  All proposed coho fisheries must be reviewed and approved by NOAA.

The 2015 Coastal Coho Fishing Regulations will be posted on the ODFW website by late June.

For the first time in several years, there will be no emergency regulations for coastal fall Chinook. Anglers should refer to the 2015 Oregon Sport Fishing Regulations booklet for those seasons.

In other business, the Commission:

  • Allocated 2016 tags to the big game auction and raffle program.
  • Approved funding for Access and Habitat projects that provide hunting access or improve wildlife habitat.
  • Set the July 2015 – June 2016 commercial seasons for coastal pelagic species. Under federal regulations for the 2015-16 season, there will not be a directed sardine fishery off the west coast due to very low numbers in the latest stock assessment.
  • Approved $1,328,936 in funding for 17 fish enhancement and restoration projects recommended by the Fish Restoration and Enhancement Board.

The Commission is the policy-making body for fish and wildlife issues in the state. It usually meets monthly. The next meeting is scheduled for July 27 in Salem.