By Jim Akenson, OHA Conservation Director
OHA contributed extensively to improve our hunting opportunities and support key elements of our mission to “Protect Oregon’s wildlife, habitat and hunting heritage” in 2018. We influenced decision makers on the management of predatory species, contributed to better hunting regulations, and improved wildlife habitat statewide.
Here are just a few highlights from the past year:
Cougar Management: OHA continues to be a strong voice for cougar management through active engagement with media, Oregon’s State Legislature, and the Fish and Wildlife Commission actions. Our emphasis continues to be increased management options for cougars, including expanded target area for big game population enhancement, and protection of property and human safety concerns. In response to Oregon’s recent fatal cougar attack and a rash of cougar sightings in Oregon towns and even a college campus, OHA is working with others to introduce legislation to bring relief from Oregon’s cougars, which are growing in number and boldness.
Wolf Plan: OHA is now participating in facilitated meetings that focus on the more sensitive details addressed in the revised Wolf Management Plan. There have been four facilitated meetings held to date with a key one slated Jan. 8. OHA has supported the current draft plan, assuming it continues to include language and guidance for management of Oregon’s wolf population, once numbers and circumstances permit the controlled hunting and trapping of wolves.
Elk Distribution: OHA has engaged in three areas on this topic, aimed at improving hunter opportunity:
• Ochoco Elk: OHA has taken legal action against the Ochoco National Forest, opposing the Summit OHV Trail development on the grounds of increased disturbance and effecting elk distribution on public land and reducing hunter opportunity. The district magistrate from Pendleton has recommended favorably to our concern and now we are waiting a final decision from a district judge to finalize a decision.
• Chesnimnus/Zumwalt Elk: OHA has continued dialogue with ODFW, landowners, and the USFS to develop a combination of hunting effort and elk disturbance management to hold elk on public land – and available for hunting.
• Cold Springs: The major accomplishment on this issue has been to is encourage hunting on the Cold Springs National Wildlife Refuge, which has served as a hiding place for elk doing damage to high-dollar crops in the Hermiston area. So far, a dozen hunters, being selected from a damage list, have been able to harvest cow elk.
Regulation Simplification: Two of the three phases in the process have been completed. In September, Phase II details went before the Fish and Wildlife Commission for approval. Most items were approved, including allowing mechanical broadheads for bowhunters along with lowering the legal bow draw weight to 40 pounds for all big game.
Marten Trapping: The petition to change rule making for trapping regulations, and to ultimately list the Humboldt Marten, was denied by the Fish & Wildlife Commission in Bandon on Sept. 14. OHA argued that there just was not the science presented to warrant such an action.
Electronic Licensing System: This new system will go into effect Dec. 1. There could be issues and problems as this system gets established. OHA will be at the table to advise for improvement.
Non-Lead Ammunition: OHA continues involvement to maintain a voice advocating for voluntary use.