Update August 8, 2008 - Due to a scheduling conflict, the date of the next Fish and Wildlife Commission meeting has been moved to the following week; the new date is Sept. 19 in Forest Grove.
SALEM, Ore.– Oregon's Fish and Wildlife Commission today adopted 2008-09 regulations for birds hunted in Oregon including migratory birds (duck, goose, mourning dove, band-tailed pigeon, coot, snipe) upland birds (pheasant, forest grouse, chukar, pheasant, California quail, mountain quail, sage grouse, turkey) and crows.
Most upland bird seasons operate under a five-year framework so hunters won’t see many changes this year. However, fall turkey hunting opportunities will expand in northeast Oregon, with 200 more tags available this year and two new hunts added (Wallowa and Grande Ronde).
“Turkey populations have increased in recent years in the Blue Mountains and other areas of northeast Oregon,” explained Dave Budeau, ODFW upland bird coordinator. “It’s a great place to hunt turkeys because many can be found on public land.”
Beginning next season (2009-2010), pheasant hunting will open the same weekend as chukar and quail in eastern Oregon. “Chukar and quail are some of the most popular game birds to hunt in Oregon, and pheasants are also a favorite,” explained Budeau. “We want to ease the burden of high fuel prices and make it possible for hunters to pursue all in the same trip.” (ODFW is announcing the shift in season dates now because many hunters plan trips well in advance.)
Budeau expects better upland bird hunting this year. “The hunting outlook generally looks to be improved over last year because of increased moisture, which promoted better habitat conditions,” he told Commissioners. Last year’s production was down on the eastside due to drought conditions, particular in southeast Oregon.
While the duck season will remain liberal overall, canvasback hunting is closed, a conservation measure in response to drought conditions on important duck breeding grounds. The scaup bag limit will be reduced from three to two and the season length will only be 86 days.
Goose hunters will see more hunting opportunity as the daily bag limit for white geese will increase from four to six birds in most of the state. Hunters in the special NW Oregon Permit Zone will also be able to hunt white geese during the third period.
In Klamath County, late season goose hunters can now take three white geese daily, but only one white-fronted goose due to concerns about impacts to rare Tule white-fronted geese. This late-season hunt began two years ago to assist agricultural landowners experiencing severe damage from geese.
Below is a summary of the 2008-09 game bird regulations adopted today.
Turkey: Limited general western Oregon fall season Oct. 15-Dec. 31 with a season limit of one turkey of either sex; a maximum of 3,000 tags will be issued first-come first-served. Increased opportunities for controlled hunting in eastern Oregon, including two new hunts (Grande Ronde and Wallowa), with a total of 725 tags offered, 200 more than last year. The Pine Valley hunt has been renamed Baker and expanded to include all of four wildlife management units. This should help disperse hunters and assist landowners experiencing turkey damage.
Sage grouse: Season Sept. 6-14; 1,175 permits (same as last year); application deadline Aug. 25; daily/season bag limit of two. “Oregon’s sage grouse season is very conservative,” said Budeau. “We design it with the self-imposed limit of no more than 5 percent of expected fall population harvested.” Hunters do not need to wait for the publication of the 2008-09 Game Bird Regulations to apply. Applications will be accepted beginning Aug. 9.
Special pheasant hunts: Fourteen youth pheasant hunts at 13 statewide locations during one of four weekends in September, including a new hunt in the Heppner unit. Becoming an Outdoors-Woman pheasant hunt Sept. 20-21 at Denman Wildlife Area in White City. Western Oregon fee pheasant hunts at wildlife areas Denman Sept. 29-Oct. 17, E.E. Wilson Oct. 1-31, Fern Ridge Sept. 8-Oct. 5, Sauvie. Island Sept. 15-28.
Ducks: The Commission approved another liberal 107-day duck season with a daily bag limit of seven ducks with no more than one pintail, two scaup (86-day season), two hen mallard, and two redheads. Canvasback hunting is closed.
Due to calendar shifts, both Zone 1 and Zone 2 will open on Oct. 11 this year. Season dates are Oct. 11-26 and Oct. 29-Jan. 25 in Zone 1 and Oct. 11-Nov. 30 and Dec. 3-Jan. 25 in Zone 2. The scaup season is Nov. 1-Jan. 25 in Zone 1 and Oct. 11-Nov. 30 and Dec. 3-Jan. 6 in Zone 2.
Goose: Most zones continue a 100-day season with a liberal daily bag limit of four dark geese and six white geese (up from four last year). Openings are concurrent with duck openers in most areas. The Tillamook County goose season, introduced last year after a 20-year closure, will be lengthened by two weeks.
In the NW Oregon Permit Zone, hunters that do not check out their geese will not only lose their hunting privileges for the remainder of the season, but for the following season. “Checking out geese is fundamental and critical to keeping this season open,” explained Brad Bales, ODFW Migratory Bird Program Coordinator. Goose hunting in the NW Permit Zone is carefully regulated due to concerns about the population status of Dusky Canada geese.
The Commission made permanent a rule allowing the destruction of resident Canada goose nests and eggs where the birds are causing property damage or threatening public health or safety. The rule brings Oregon in compliance with federal regulations adopted last year.
The 2008-2009 Oregon Game Bird Regulations should be available Aug. 22 at ODFW offices and most license retailers statewide and on the ODFW website by the end of next week.
Adoption of the Black-Tailed Deer Management Plan has been postponed until the Nov. 14 meeting in Salem because that meeting has a light agenda. The move will also allow fuller consideration of public comments, which will continue to be accepted through the meeting. Only comments received by Oct. 27 can be made available in the informational packet seen by Commissioners prior to the meeting.
The Commission is the policy-making body for fish and wildlife issues in the state. The seven-member panel meets monthly. The next meeting is Sept. 18-19 in Forest Grove and will include adoption of the 2009 sport fishing regulations and the Cervid Disease Surveillance List specifying disease-testing requirements at deer and elk ranches.
Turkey: Turkey hens in Umatilla National Forest, July 2008. Turkey populations have increased in northeast Oregon and there will be more hunting opportunity this fall. Photo courtesy of ODFW.