A Review Committee comprised of hunters with Oregon Disabilities Hunting and Fishing Permits (DHFPs), hunting group representatives, Oregon State Police (OSP), and Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (Department) staff, was formed to discuss the DHFP program. The Committee met three times during March and April, 2016. Major topics of discussion included:
- Access for hunters restricted to wheelchairs in areas with motorized vehicle restrictions
- Opportunity to take antlerless animals (particularly elk)
- Clarify changes in areas with “expanded bag limits” in the Big Game Regulations
- Enforcement, primary concerns were “party hunting” and issuing DHFPs only to individuals that legally qualify
- Crossbows for hunters that are unable to archery hunt with other accommodations such as mouth tabs, draw locks, etc.
The Department wants your comments on the following recommendations developed by the Review Committee for consideration by the Department and Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission.
- On a trial basis, select a Travel Management Area with motorized travel restrictions and allow access for wheelchair-bound disabled hunters using “Other Power Driven Mobility Devices” (OPDMDs). The type of device allowed would be limited to, single passenger, and electric powered. Restrictions would include the hunter be wheelchair-bound and a DHFP holder.
This recommendation would require legal review (state and federal) before implementing, particularly because it is using a sub-group of hunters with DHFPs that are “permanently unable to walk without the use of, or assistance from, a brace, cane, crutch, prosthetic device, wheelchair, scooter or walker.” To implement would require staff to select an area and draft the appropriate Oregon Administrative rules (OARs), which would be proposed to the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission (Commission) for adoption.
- Incorporate edits to the DHFP application that stress to the evaluating physician the disability(s) must be permanent in nature. Implementation would require modifying the DHFP application, by making font bold and potentially adding the word “permanent” where appropriate.
- Incorporate a DHFP “endorsement” onto the hunting license document. Information would include the type of disability and expiration date of the individual’s permit. This would help OSP verify the hunter is disabled, per statute, and remind the hunter they need to re-apply for a DHFP. Implementation would require Wildlife Division to work with Licensing, and potentially Active Outdoors (the contractor responsible for the Point of Sale licensing system) to complete the necessary computer programming.
- Change the criteria used to determine the Wildlife Management Units (WMUs) where hunters with DHFPs can take antlerless elk during bull seasons, and antlerless deer during buck seasons, each year. Currently, the primary factors considered to determine the units recommended to have the bag limit expanded to include antlerless animals for hunters with DHFPs are:
- The deer or elk population characteristics in the unit particularly:
- Population level relative to the Management Objective
- Recruitment as measured by fawn or calf ratios
- Number of antlerless firearms tags in the unit
- Distribution of firearms tags in the unit
- Unit-wide or major sub-unit centerfire firearm hunts for antlerless animals
The Review Committee recommended changing to the criteria developed by the 2013-2014 Archery Review Committee which bases decisions for expanding bag limits on population parameters as follows:
- Antlerless elk in general season bag limit when:
- 105% of population MO and rising
- Calf ratio ≥ 31:100 adults previous 3 years
- Antlerless mule deer in general season bag limit when:
- 110% of population MO and rising
- Fawn ratio ≥ 45:100 adults previous 3 years
- Bull only in general season bag limit when
- ≤ 100% of population MO and declining
- Calf ratio ≤ 25:100 adults previous 3 years
- Buck mule deer only in general season bag limit when:
- ≤ 100% of population MO and declining
- Fawn ratio < 30:100 adults previous 3 years
The Committee felt the new (for DHFP bag limit decisions) criteria:
- Provides objective, biologically based guidelines.
- Provides flexibility for biologists and does not preclude providing opportunity before criteria is met.
- Allows consideration of other factors that may necessitate restricting bag limits for regular rifle seasons.
Implementation would simplify determining bag limits for people with DHFPs because the recommended criteria are already in place to determine archery season bag limits.
- Provide controlled hunts for hunters with DHFPs in areas where some opportunity for antlerless animals available, but not to the extent antlerless opportunity could be provided for all hunters with DHFPs.
Controlled hunts could either be concurrent with existing buck or bull rifle seasons or during a separate time period; members of the Review Committee had different preferences.
The Committee recognized that some WMUs may not be able to withstand long-term expanded bag limits during general or controlled buck or bull rifle seasons and may stay in a controlled hunt scenario to offer limited antlerless opportunity.
Implementing controlled hunts dedicated to hunters with disability permits would require development of new hunts would be through the standard “New Hunt” process. Wildlife Districts would develop recommendations for Division consideration and drafting of OARs for proposed hunts. Final proposals would go to the Commission for adoption.
The Committee discussed the use of crossbows at some length but did not develop a position or recommendation. Committee members, including those with DHFPs, had differences of opinion regarding allowing crossbows during archery season. Some members commented they may decide to provide Commission testimony regarding crossbows.
Some Committee members felt notification in Big Game Regulations of bag limit changes for DHFP holders should be made to stand out more. Two recommendations were to repeat changes in the “What’s New” section on the DHFP page of the Regulations, and make the list of WMUs with expanded bag limits for elk easier to read. Wildlife Division staff agreed to draft changes in the 2017 Big Game Regulations.
The Department wants your comments on any recommendation developed by this work group. All comments will be provided to the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission. ODFW staff will review the public correspondence and make their recommendations to the Commission at the September 1–2, 2016 Commission meeting held in in Welches, OR. Public testimony at the Commission meetings is also welcome.
To provide your comments, email ODFW at email@example.com