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Commission adopts 2010 big game regulations

October 2 , 2009


SALEM, Ore.—The Fish and Wildlife Commission adopted 2010 big game hunting regulations today and heard the results of its three cougar target areas.

The 2010 Big Game Regulations will be available later this year with changes in blue text. Some highlights of the changes adopted today follow:

  • Deer and elk hunters may hunt bear or cougar after filling their deer or elk tag. (Previously, hunters could not hunt bear or cougar during deer and elk season after filling their deer or elk tag in many units.)
  • Muzzleloaders with fiber optic sight will be allowed during muzzleloader seasons, as this is standard in new muzzleloaders and does not increase effective range or reliability for these traditional weapons.
  • Adults with the proper license and tag will be allowed to hunt during youth hunts, which should benefit families where the adult has a tag for the same area as the youth or during long-duration hunts.
  • The portion of Ladd Marsh Wildlife area west of Foothill Road will be closed to all entry (except by permit) from Jan. 1 to April 10. This area provides wintering range for elk and the closure will help keep elk on the wildlife area and off adjacent private agricultural land.
  • 46 new youth elk hunts.
  • Archery deer hunts in Maury, Steens Mountain N. and S. Warner units will be controlled, not general season, and require an application by May 15, 2010. (The units are part of the Mule Deer Initiative and the change is for the purposes of better tracking effort and harvest. Bowhunters successful in drawing a controlled hunt tag will receive one tag valid for a controlled hunt and the general season in other units.)
  • The Heppner Regulated Hunt Area will be open to archery hunting.
  • No tag sale deadline to purchase SW Additional Bear Tag or Additional Cougar Tag but Fall General Bear or General Cougar Tag must be purchased by tag sale deadline to be eligible to purchase additional tag.
  • Cougar season will run year-round statewide. Hunters may still not harvest spotted kittens or females with spotted kittens.

Mandatory reporting

Reporting the hunt results for each and every big game and turkey tag purchased has been mandatory since last year, but compliance among hunters has been low (averaging 17 percent).

As an incentive to encourage hunters to report, hunters that complete mandatory reporting will be entered into a drawing to win one of three tags available (deer, elk or pronghorn—hunter chooses species) beginning in 2010. 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.

The reporting schedule is as follows:

Jan. 31, 2010 – deadline for reporting all hunts ending by Dec. 31, 2009

April 15, 2010 – deadline for reporting all hunts ending January 1-March 31, 210

June 30, 2010 – deadline for reporting 2010 spring bear and spring turkey hunts

New regulations adopted also make it unlawful to knowingly provide false information when reporting the results of a hunt.

Cougar target areas

The Commission heard an evaluation of the three 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.

Removing cougars achieved the desired effects in two units, reducing livestock-cougar conflict in E. Beulah and increasing elk calf survival in Heppner.

In the third target area, Jackson County, removing cougars proved more difficult. Small ownership patterns among landowners made it difficult to coordinate permission to access private property in pursuit of cougars. Snares and traps could not be widely used due to concerns about inadvertently trapping pets or livestock. Human safety conflicts with cougars were not reduced in this area.

“We only removed 24 cougars over three years when we had planned to remove 72, so we only reached a third of our objective” said Mark Vargas, ODFW district biologist in Jackson County. “In this study area, we were unable to determine whether removing cougars can reduce human safety conflicts.”

ODFW staff informed the Commission of plans to implement four new cougar target areas and received positive feedback from Commissioners. The target areas would be 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 to fully complete three years of removals and analyze results.

The Commission approved the acquisition of property from the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation. Known as the Glass Hill winter range, the property is adjacent to Ladd Marsh Wildlife Area in La Grande and provides critical winter range for big game and other critical wildlife habitat.

The Commission is the policy-making body for fish and wildlife issues. It usually meets monthly. The meeting scheduled for Nov. 13, 2009 at the Portland Airport has been cancelled. The next meeting is Dec. 11, 2009 at ODFW Headquarters in Salem.




Michelle Dennehy
(503) 947-6022
Fax: (503) 947-6009



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