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Commission adopts rules to implement the “Beaver Bill”

ODFW staff presenting information on how partners including ODFW, The Klamath Tribes, NOAA and Trout Unlimited plan to monitor Chinook salmon, coho salmon, steelhead, and Pacific lamprey to determine if they are able to repopulate habitat above the lower Klamath dams. Photo by Bob Swingle, ODFW.
The meeting was held at The Klamath Tribe’s goos oLgi gowa community center in Chiloquin. Pictured: William E. Ray Jr., Tribal Chairman, speaking about The Klamath Tribes’ history during the meeting. Photo by Bob Swingle, ODFW.

June 14, 2024

CHILOQUIN, Ore.—The Commission today adopted rules to implement HB 3464 passed by the 2023 Oregon State Legislature, aka the “Beaver Bill,” which remove the complicated dual classification of beavers so they are now solely managed as furbearers (rather than predatory animals in some situations).

The new approach encourages coexistence (and less lethal take) of beaver and provides tools to more effectively manage and prevent damage caused by beaver.  The rules establish a permitting process for take of beaver that are causing damage, require reporting of all beaver take and provide an opportunity for ODFW to give guidance to landowners on non-lethal methods for reducing conflict. They will help close data gaps by collecting more information on damage, complementing the agency’s Beaver Action Plan. Data collected will help determine beaver distribution, identify conflict hot spots, quantify when take does occur and reasons why.

The Commission also took the following actions today:

ODFW’s 2025-27 Agency Requested Budget (ARB): The Commission adopted the ARB as proposed by staff. The proposed budget includes recreational and commercial fee adjustments set to take effect as early as 2026. It now goes to the Governor who will present her recommended budget to the 2025 Oregon State Legislature which has the final authority to adopt ODFW’s budget. 

ODFW last requested a fee adjustment on recreational hunting and commercial and recreational fishing licenses in 2015. This latest proposal would stagger fee increases over several years. The popular Youth Combo license will remain $10 to make it easier for families to hunt and fish together, and a new proposed $7 Ocean Endorsement (required for all ocean fishing including salmon, but not for shellfish) would help fund survey and monitoring work critical for continuing fisheries for popular marine species like black rockfish.

Even with the proposed fee adjustments, the agency budget proposal would necessitate several program reductions as it faces rising costs associated with inflation in recent years. These rising costs include a 20 percent per biennium increase in hatchery costs (fish food and utilities) and other costs beyond its control such as Department of Justice costs and state government services charges. The need for these reductions, even in the face of increases to license and permit fees, underscores the long-term need to diversify and stabilize funding for the agency, which is anticipated to be a discussion during the 2025 legislative session. Conservation and management of fish, wildlife and their habitats are increasing in complexity and urgency in the face of a changing climate, meeting ESA listed species requirements, increasing land development and water use demands, renewable energy needs, and other landscape-scale impacts.

“This is a difficult process, but we have to plan a budget based on what we know,” said ODFW Director Debbie Colbert after the Commission unanimously approved the Department’s while expressing concerns about some of the proposals. “It is one of my highest proprieties to work with partners to secure additional dedicated revenues for our department.”

Commissioners intend to include a note with the ARB expressing their concerns about raising fees for certain tags, the potential closure of operations at two hatcheries during the biennium, and fees for commercial fishermen.

Mule Deer Plan Revision: Commissioners adopted the Plan as proposed by staff, updating a management plan last revised in 2003 with the latest research and data about mule deer in the state. In the past decade, ODFW has conducted extensive research on this species to better understand the reasons behind declining populations, a trend that’s happening across the West. Through the updated goal and associated objectives, this plan provides direction to the department, and communicates that direction to partners and the public, for navigating through the complicated interactions of all the biological, environmental, and social factors affecting mule deer.

2024 Coastal Fall Salmon Seasons/Smallmouth Bass in Coquille River: Seasons were adopted as proposed by staff except for some modifications adding harvest days for wild coho on the Alsea and Coquille Rivers. Seasons for wild Chinook are similar to last year, while opportunities for wild coho are somewhat increased. The 2024 forecasted ocean abundance of Oregon coast natural coho is 233,000, up from 185,000 last year, while forecasts for wild Chinook are similar to last year. More details on coastal fall salmon regulations will be available before the end of June or see the Coastal fall salmon webpage  for staff proposals. The Commission also liberalized the take of smallmouth bass from the Coquille River by adopting a rule to allow the use of bait while angling and the use of spears or spear guns for harvesting smallmouth bass. 

2024-26 Furbearer Regulations: The Commissioners adopted regulations that modify the red fox harvest area to exclude a 15-mile buffer along the Pacific Crest Trail from the Washington border south to the intersection with Interstate 5 to further protect Sierra Nevada Red Fox. The Commission heard testimony from several people asking for a ban on beaver trapping on federal lands (which represents an estimated 1-4 percent of beaver harvest) but declined to enact a ban, citing extensive efforts underway already to encourage more beaver modified habitat in Oregon following the Beaver Action Plan.

Access & Habitat Program: The Commission reappointed Morgan Olson of Cove and appointed Truman Stone of Eugene as Hunter Representatives on the Board. They approved funding for continued hunting access at Alvord Ranch Access Area and to help complete a land acquisition project in the Metolius Winter Range (a Priority Wildlife Connectivity Area that will benefit big game and several other species).

Auction and raffle tags: The Commission allocated special hunting tags for auction and raffle in 2025. Host organizations receive 10 percent of the sales price for the tag sold at auction, which they can use to fund their own grant programs benefiting wildlife.

State agencies that can play a role in Southern Resident Orca conservation: Southern Resident orcas (SROs) were listed as endangered under Oregon’s Endangered Species Act (OESA) in February 2024. An OESA listing decision affects management decisions made on state-owned, managed, or leased lands, including lands where state agencies hold recorded easements. As required by OESA, the Commission determined the state agencies that own or manage lands/waters where SROs or their habitat are found and that can play a role in conservation of the species. ODFW, the Oregon Department of State Lands (ODSL) and Oregon Parks and Recreation Department (OPRD) were determined to have a role in SRO conservation and these agencies will be required to each develop a management plan for SROs.

OCRF Project Funding: The Commission approved funding for 24 projects recommended by the Oregon Conservation and Recreation Advisory Committee. Many of these projects have a connection with statewide needs around drought and wildfire research, monitoring, and outreach while addressing several of ODFW’s identified needs for fish, wildlife, and habitat.

On Thursday, Commissioners toured different sites in the upper Klamath Basin to learn about the challenges and opportunities facing the region. Partners in this effort who spoke with Commissioners included ODFW staff, The Klamath Tribes, Trout Unlimited, NOAA, Upper Klamath Basin Ag Collective and Klamath Watershed Partnership. During a stop at Klamath Fish Hatchery, they learned about ODFW and partners' plans for monitoring salmon, steelhead and other fishes potential return to habitat above the four lower Klamath hydroelectric dams that are being removed. Other stops along the tour highlighted the challenges fish will face beyond the dams due to reduced ecosystem function in the region.


Contact: Michelle Dennehy, (503) 931-2748, Michelle.N.Dennehy@odfw.oregon.gov
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06/14/2024 6:55 PM:18 AM:19 PM    
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