OHA has submitted two cougar bill concepts for introduction in the 2019 Legislative Session. The two concepts stemmed from a November workgroup led by Rep. Sprenger (R-Scio) that OHA attended. At the end of the group meeting, Rep. Sprenger asked for legislative concepts for the 2019 Legislative Session. The OHA board members and staff who attended the workgroup (Steve Hagan, Paul Donheffner, John Thiebes, Jim Akenson and Al Elkins) worked with the OHA board and designed two concepts that will be put into bill form. The concepts are:
• Establish a position within ODFW to train and coordinate cougar agents used by ODFW. If passed and funded, this position would coordinate contracted cougar agents in zones to help maintain zone cougar quotas.
• Where available, allow ODFW to contract with agents to assist in cougar population management. If passed, this would redistribute unused zone quotas to agents to administratively assist in removal within the allowable mortality cap.
The next step in this process is for the concepts to be written in bill form and then introduced during the 2019 Legislative Session that begins in January. —Al Elkins, OHA Lobbyist