LA GRANDE, Ore. – The Commission formally adopted cervid rules today based on policies decided upon at their April 18 in Salem, while declining to increase fencing standards for current licensed elk ranches.
Citing concerns about the financial burden on existing ranchers, the Commission directed ODFW staff to work with its partners and the Oregon State Legislature to develop a cost-share approach to double fencing. The improved fences would decrease the risk of disease transmission between captive and wild cervids.
The Commission made the decision after hearing a staff discussion about various fencing options. While an interior electric fence would cost less than a double fence up front, such fencing would have more costs associated with maintenance in the long run. It also would not be as effective as a double fence in keeping wild and captive cervids apart.
New cervid ranching facilities, or facilities obtaining a transferred license, will be required to double fence. Should a disease be detected in an animal on an existing facility, that facility will also be required to double fence within 30 days.
Most rules formally adopted, such as the one allowing the sale of domestic elk meat, are effective immediately. The prohibition on the knowing sale of shooter bulls to facilities in states that allow the hunting of privately-held cervids is effective Jan. 1, 2009. Disease reporting requirements will be effective once the Oregon Department of Agriculture and ODFW develop a Cervid Disease Surveillance List and the Commission approves it, which should occur sometime this summer. New cervid marking requirements will not be effective until May 1, 2009 to allow time for captive bulls to shed their antlers and the safe handling of those bulls.
Commissioners were briefed on a planned amendment to the Klamath River Basin Fish Management Plan which would reintroduce salmon to the Upper Klamath Lake and tributaries. Salmon disappeared from the Upper Klamath Basin in Oregon almost 100 years ago when Copco 1 Dam in California blocked fish passage upriver. The amendment calls for a cautious, science-based approach to the reintroduction of chinook salmon. ODFW staff reviewed public reaction to the plan based on comments heard at several public meetings. Klamath Tribes Council Chair Joseph Kirk and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s John Hamilton testified today in support of the plan. The Commission may formally adopt the amendment at its July 17-18 meeting in Sisters.
The Commission approved $520,211 to fund 19 different projects that will restore or enhance fisheries. The projects were recommended by ODFW’s Restoration and Enhancement Board.
The Commission provided guidance on legislative concepts for adjusting the Land Owner Preference (LOP) program, parts of which sunset in 2010. The LOP program provides deer, elk and antelope tags to private landowners so they (or individuals they register) can hunt on their property. It helps ODFW give non-monetary compensation for all the wildlife habitat private landowners provide and address wildlife damage to private property.
The Commission provided the following recommendations
- Extend the sunset an additional 15 years to Jan. 2, 2025, but with an internal review of the program at least every five years.
- Allow some LOP tag holders to harvest a buck antelope. The program previously limited LOP tags to does.
- Amend the definition of immediate family to include spouse and domestic partner and allow transfer of up to one half of tags to non-family members.
- Develop a 5-year pilot program with the goal of increasing LOP tags for landowners that provide significant hunter access for youth hunters and terminally ill youth, or to landlocked public land.
The final decision on changes to the program will be made by the Oregon State Legislature in 2009. Additional changes to the LOP program will be discussed at the October Commission meeting.
The Commission honored ODFW’s first-ever Northeast Region Director Bill Brown, who was responsible for the department’s purchase of the original parcel of land that has since become the 6,200-acre Ladd Marsh Wildlife Area in La Grande.
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 June 6 in Salem. Agenda item exhibits may be requested by calling the ODFW Director’s Office at 800-720-6339 or 503-947-6044 or looking online at http://www.dfw.state.or.us/agency/commission/minutes/