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Cougar target areas, 2010 big game regulations on Commission agenda

 
September 25, 2009

 

SALEM, Ore.—The Fish and Wildlife Commission will meet Friday, Oct. 2 at ODFW Headquarters in Salem for an update regarding cougar target areas and to adopt 2010 big game hunting regulations.

The meeting begins at 8 a.m. at 3406 Cherry Ave, NE and proceeds through this agenda.

Cougar target areas

Cougar target areas are places where ODFW has been removing cougars in an attempt to reduce high levels of conflict between cougars and humans or livestock or increase big game populations where survival of young has been low and cougar depredation is believed to be a factor.

After the Commission adopted a new Oregon Cougar Management Plan in April 2006, ODFW implemented the state’s first three cougar target areas from October 2006 through 2009. During the meeting, ODFW staff will present an evaluation of these target areas, which took place in the Heppner Unit (Morrow County), the eastern portion of Beulah Unit (Malheur County) and in Jackson County.

Removing cougars achieved the desired effects in two units, reducing livestock-cougar conflict in E. Beulah and increasing elk calf survival in Heppner. But the cougar removals did not appear to reduce human safety/pet concerns in the Jackson County target area. Here, annual removal objectives of 24 cougars were never met due to land ownership patterns of small acreages that made it difficult to conduct removals.

ODFW staff will also provide information regarding four potential new cougar target areas in the following wildlife management units: Warner (Lake Co.), Steens Mountains (Harney Co.), Wenaha (Wallowa Co.) and Ukiah (Umatilla Co.). Both Warner and Steens Mountain units are part of ODFW’s Mule Deer Initiative, and the cougar removals in these units are primarily to help low mule deer populations. Wenaha and Ukiah units were selected because of elk populations in these areas have been well below management objectives for years. ODFW staff also plan to continue removals for one more year in the E. Beulah target area.

2010 Big Game Regulations

The Commission will be asked to approve 2010 Big Game Regulations. The major changes proposed by staff follow:

Mandatory reporting

Since last year, it has been mandatory for all hunters that purchase a big game (deer, elk, pronghorn, bear, cougar) or turkey tag to report the results of their hunt online or by phone. But most hunters are still not reporting; compliance rates average about 17 percent.

Hunters can wait years to draw a deer, elk or pronghorn hunt. As an incentive for hunters to report, ODFW staff are considering that those who report be entered into a drawing to win one of three tags available (deer, elk or pronghorn—hunter chooses species). The tag will entitle the hunter to hunt for a long season anywhere in the state, similar to tags auctioned and raffled each year.  (The winning hunters will still need to purchase the tag as ODFW does not have the authority to give away these tags.)

ODFW staff are considering penalties if necessary in the future to increase mandatory reporting, including restricting hunters from getting a new tag until the previous year’s reporting is complete or imposing a penalty fee. No penalties would take effect until 2011 at the earliest.

Other changes proposed for 2010 Oregon Big Game Regulations:

Deer and elk

- In many units, hunters who have filled their deer/elk tag may not hunt bear or cougar during the remainder of the deer/elk season. Staff proposes to change this rule and allow them to hunt bear and cougar before or after filling their deer or elk tag.

- Successful black-tailed deer hunters will be required to return teeth from the deer they harvested. ODFW will use the teeth to determine the age of the animal and the data will be used in population modeling efforts and considered when setting seasons.

- Delete the Yachats Mountain, Lake Creek elk hunts and the Cavitt Creek youth hunt.  Add 46 new youth elk hunts and three other hunts.

- Four new controlled archery deer hunts in Maury, Steens Mountain N. and S. Warner units, which are all part of the Mule Deer Initiative. (Bowhunters successful in drawing a controlled hunt tag will receive one tag valid for a controlled hunt and the general season.)

- Deleting two deer hunts (Round Mountain antlerless and Malheur Baker youth hunt) and adding nine new hunts, some of them youth hunts.

- North Warner youth hunt (674T) and Interstate Unit (675T) will become 100 series buck hunts in 2010. Remember preference points accrued for applying for these hunts will remain 600 series points.

Bear

- Two new spring bear hunts in 2010: Saddle Mountain/Scappoose and White River Units.

- No tag sale deadline to purchase SW Additional Bear Tag but Fall General Bear Tag must be purchased by tag sale deadline to be eligible to purchase additional tag.

Cougar

- Cougar season is proposed to run year-round statewide.

- No tag sale deadline to purchase Additional Cougar Tag but first General Cougar Tag must be purchased by tag sale deadline to be eligible to purchase additional tag.

Pronghorn

- Two new archery hunts and two new muzzleloader hunts (Paulina and N. Wagontire). One archery hunt in Grizzly unit will be deleted.

Bighorn sheep

- One of two Riverside hunts and Wenaha-East Sled Springs hunts will be deleted. Combine Poker Jim and Hart Mountain hunt into single area. 

Rocky Mountain goat

- Delete Cusick Mtn #1 hunt.

The Commission also will:

  • Be asked to approve a land acquisition of Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation property adjacent to Ladd Marsh Wildlife Area in La Grande.
  • Review and consider adoption of the administrative rules for fees that were increased during the 2009 Legislative Session. The new fees will provide some new opportunities for hunters and anglers and help ODFW keep pace with the escalating costs of managing the state’s fish and wildlife populations. The fees take effect Jan. 1, 2010 and the average increase for Oregon residents is about 21 percent.
  • Hear a 3-year review of the crab pot limitation program and be asked to approve modifications.
  • Receive a staff report on ODFW’s progress toward implementing Oregon’s marine reserve program. The Commission will consider the rules to establish and implement two pilot marine reserve sites at its December meeting.

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 in the morning 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.

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Contact:

Michelle Dennehy (503) 931-2748 / (503) 947-6022
Rick Hargrave (503) 559-1592 / (503) 947-6020
Fax: (503) 947-6009

 

 

 
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