SALEM, Ore. – The Commission met in Salem today and Thursday to consider making the wearing of hunter orange mandatory and set Columbia River summer and fall fishing seasons and coastal fall chinook fishing seasons.
On Friday, staff presented an informational report to the Commission regarding the potential of making the wearing of hunter orange mandatory during some hunting activities. After reviewing the report and hearing public testimony, the Commission narrowed the range of options they will consider for final rulemaking at the Oct. 1 meeting in Bend to three.
The three options the Commission will consider are:
- Option 1 – No change to current status (voluntary wear of hunter orange).
- Option 2 – Require hunter orange upper garment and hat for hunters 17 years of age and younger while hunting big game and upland birds (except turkey) with any firearm.
- Option 3 – Require hunter orange upper garment or hat for all hunters while hunting big game and upland birds (except turkey) with a centerfire firearm or shotgun.
As a result of the Commission’s decision, the information on the ODFW website has been modified to reflect the three options under consideration.
Public comment on the three options can be sent to ODFW.Comments@state.or.us, or to 3406 Cherry Ave NE, Salem OR. Public comment will also be heard at the Oct. 1 meeting.
Big game and furtaker regulations
The Commission adopted 2010 fall big game tag numbers that are almost the same as last year. ODFW’s Licensing Division will now begin the draw for controlled hunt tags. Results will be mailed to hunters by June 20. A total of 375,227 controlled hunt applications were issued for 2010, compared to 426,921 last year.
The Commission indicated support for the following concepts for potential changes to 2011 big game regulations, which will be formally set Oct. 1 in Bend. See here for more details on changes including deleted and added hunts. The potential changes they will be considering in October include:
Allowing any legal weapon during “rifle” pronghorn, and elk hunts.
- Allowing Sport Pac hunters to use the deer voucher for 600 series hunts.
- Allowing limited tags sales after deadlines.
- Allowing second choice after using “Preference Point” as first choice.
- Implementing a winter range closure at Phillip W. Schneider Wildlife Area.
- Extend Murderers Creek-Flagtail TMA so it begins 3 days prior to archery season (currently begins 3 days prior to buck deer rifle season).
- Replacing general late season archery cow hunts with controlled hunts in Santiam, Stott Mt, Alsea, McKenzie and N. Indigo (due to declining elk populations and to better distribute hunters).
The Commission also set the number of 2011 big game auction and raffle tags, which will be the same as in 2010.
The Commission adopted 2010-2012 season furtaker regulations as they were proposed by ODFW staff.
On Thursday, the Commission was briefed on activities of the Goose Control Task Force, which has been looking at ways to address agricultural crop losses created by current goose populations in different parts of the state. Migratory waterfowl management is a joint responsibility of federal and state governments negotiated through the Pacific Flyway Council. The Commission indicated they would support ODFW efforts to negotiate the best possible season structure and length to help minimize agricultural damage and control the goose population. The Commission also gave strong support and direction to the department to advocate for a lower cackling Canada goose population management objective.
The Commission approved over $1.6 million in grants for six projects to maintain or improve wildlife habitat or hunter access to private land in Oregon. The projects include renewal of the North Coast Travel Management Area and Willamette Private Lands Law Enforcement Project, which open over 2.7 million acres of private timberland to hunters in western Oregon.
2010 coastal fall chinook and wild coho seasons
Projected returns of fall chinook to coastal rivers and streams range from near normal in the Southwest Zone to quite low on several rivers in the Northwest Zones. In response, the Commission adopted reduced bag limits and significant area closures on the Nehalem and Nestucca rivers. On the south coast, seasons will be more in line with permanent rules with minor modifications.
The Commission also approved wild coho fisheries on the Siletz and Coquille rivers and Tenmile Lake. These fisheries are modeled on the successful wild coho seasons on four coastal basins in 2009, and on the Siltcoos and Tahkenitch lake fisheries that have been in place since 2003. Because wild coho are listed as threatened under the federal Endangered Species Act, these seasons will not be finalized until approved by NOAA fisheries.
See the complete summary of the fall coastal coho and chinook seasons.
2010 summer and fall fisheries on Columbia River
The Commission approved regulations for the summer and fall salmon seasons for the Columbia River and Buoy 10 fisheries.
For summer chinook, sport fisheries will enjoy the largest harvest quotas ever thanks to a strong projected return of adult fish.
While fall chinook returns also look stronger than last year’s, fishing opportunities will be similar to those in 2009 in order to protect populations of upriver chinook.
Finally, managers are predicting 286,000 coho salmon will return to the Columbia River in 2010, down considerably from the strong return in 2009. However, recreational seasons will be similar to last year.
See the complete summary of the Columbia and Buoy 10 seasons.
The Commission heard a summary of the Lower Columbia River Conservation and Recovery Plan for Oregon Populations of Salmon and Steelhead. The plan outlines measures to protect and restore four species on salmon and steelhead currently listed as threatened under the federal Endangered Species Act. The Commission will be asked to approve the plan at its Aug. 6 meeting.
On Thursday, June 3, the Commission took the following actions.
The Commission approved a fish passage waiver request on the Bull Run River near Mt Hood. Fish passage requirements were triggered by the proposed Bull Run Water Supply Habitat Conservation Plan being developed by the city of Portland. Currently, two dams on the Bull Run River block passage of migratory fish. The city has proposed multiple mitigation measures that provide a net benefit to fish in other areas of the Bull Run and Sandy River watersheds.
The Commission appointed Mike Britton of Madras to the Fish Screening Task Force where he will represent agricultural interests. Britton is a member of the Executive Committee of the Oregon Water Resources Congress and several other groups that represent irrigation and agricultural interests. The seven-person task force advises ODFW on fish screening issues.
The Commission granted an exemption to grass carp rules to allow stocking of grass carp in a privately-owned reservoir. Grass carp are native to eastern Asia and were introduced into the United States in 1963 to control invasive, aquatic weeds. They are regulated as a controlled species in Oregon.
The Commission denied a citizen-initiated petition that would have allowed the harvest of anchovies from Yaquina Bay.
The Commission is the policy-making body for fish and wildlife issues in Oregon. It meets monthly. The next meeting is a conference call scheduled for July 16.