SALEM, Ore. – The Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission will meet April 17 and 18 at ODFW headquarters, 3406 Cherry Ave NE, Salem to revise the rules governing cervid (deer and elk) ranching and set sport and commercial ocean salmon regulations.
The meetings begin at 1 p.m. Thursday and 8 a.m. Friday, proceeding chronologically through an agenda available at the link below.
Thursday’s meeting includes a briefing on Oregon’s first black-tailed deer management plan, which will provide a long-term comprehensive management strategy for the species. The Commission will also appoint members to the Commercial Fishery Permit Board and Developmental Fishery Board and be asked to authorize the Umpqua Fishermen’s Association release of additional hatchery fall chinook into the Calapooya Watershed to create more fishing opportunities.
On Friday, the Commission will be asked to adopt revised cervid (deer and elk) ranching rules for the state’s license holders, particularly the Type 1 license commercial facilities that raise cervids for meat and other purposes. Among the changes being proposed by staff are: requiring double-fencing of cervid ranches by Dec. 31, 2010; mandatory, more comprehensive disease testing; decommissioning and bonding requirements; explicit approval of gamete imports (live cervids may still not be imported).
Friday’s meeting marks the culmination of what started back in January 2007, when the Commission denied three petitions to change the cervid ranching rules, including one that requested the ending of commercial cervid ranching in the state. The Commission declined to end cervid ranching but asked that ODFW staff and an advisory group review current rules.
“It is the Commission’s charge to regulate the private ownership of cervids so that Oregon’s wild deer and elk and their habitat are protected for future generations,” explained Grande Ronde Watershed District Manager Bruce Eddy. “The changes proposed by staff will clarify existing rules, increase the monitoring for disease, and reduce the risk of interaction between captive and wild cervids.”
Among the chief issues driving public concern about cervid ranching is Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD), an untreatable neurological disease that is always fatal to deer and elk which has been detected at cervid ranching facilities and in wild cervids in other states and Canadian provinces. While Oregon is currently a CWD-free state, other states and Canadian provinces with the disease have spent millions to contain it but none have been able to eradicate CWD once it is documented in wild cervids.
The Commission will also finish business begun last year when Governor Kulongoski, the Confederated Tribes of the Grande Ronde Indian Reservation Tribal Council and ODFW signed a proclamation to recognize the Tribe’s stewardship of lands under their ownership or management and their need to harvest big game animals for ceremonial purposes. The Commission will be asked to adopt a Resolution recognizing the Tribe’s stewardship and administrative rules providing permits that would allow the annual take of up to 15 deer, 9 elk and three bears for ceremonial purposes in the Trask Wildlife Management Unit, where the Tribe’s 5,000-acre reservation is located.
The Commission is also expected to adopt final management plans for the Ladd Marsh (La Grande) and Klamath (Klamath Falls) Wildlife Areas and 2008 ocean salmon and Columbia River terminal areas fishing seasons. Because of very low salmon returns, the Pacific Fishery Management Council closed all ocean commercial salmon fishing from Cape Falcon south to the California border this year, but did set a limited recreational fishing opportunity for coho salmon off the Oregon coast beginning in late June.
Finally, the Commission will adopt rules related to criminal history background checks of employees, in compliance with House Bill 2157 passed by the 2005 Oregon State Legislature.
The Commission is the policy-making body for fish and wildlife issues in the state. The seven-member panel meets monthly. Agenda item exhibits may be requested by calling the ODFW Director’s Office at 800-720-6339 or 503-947-6044.
Public testimony will be held Thursday afternoon immediately following the expenditure report. Persons seeking to testify on issues not on the formal agenda may do so by making arrangements with the ODFW Director’s Office, at least 24 hours in advance of the meeting, by calling 800-720-6339 or 503-947-6044.
Reasonable accommodations will be provided as needed for individuals requesting assistive hearing devices, sign language interpreters or large-print materials. Individuals needing these types of accommodations may call the ODFW Director’s Office at 800-720-6339 or 503-947-6044 at least 24 hours in advance of the meeting.