HB 3118 received a public hearing in the House Committee on Natural Resources on April 4. The bill would expand Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife’s ability to utilize approved agents to assist in managing the cougar population. The bill is straightforward and written in language that reflects this topic in the existing cougar management plan. Currently, the cougar management plan is written with a ‘safety net’ population target of 3,000 cougars, although Derek Broman, ODFW Carnivore-Furbearer Coordinator, stated that the population would easily remain stable below that number. The current population is approximately 6,400 and a mere 4% population reduction from hunting each year is not slowing the overall growth.
Testifying in favor were representatives from Oregon Hunters Association and Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, in addition to Representative Sprenger, who sponsored the bill. The bill is schedule for a work session on April 9. The Humane Society of Oregon, Humane Society of the United States, and the Portland Audubon Society testified in opposition of the bill, opposed to the ability of approved agents to use hound hunting.