By Jim Akenson, OHA Sr. Conservation Director
ODFW staff and representatives of sportsmen’s groups, including OHA, met in December to discuss 2020 hunting regulation changes pertinent to mule deer, black-tailed deer and elk damage hunts. This meeting stemmed from OHA submitting a letter to the Fish and Wildlife Commission expressing concerns about biological aspects of the new hunting regulations for these three game animals.
One of the Commission members participated in the meeting along with representatives from five stakeholder organizations. The focus of this meeting was to ensure that ODFW carefully monitors the effect of these new regulations. This concern applies to both the mule deer rut hunts, such as the one slated for the John Day Canyon, and for blacktail bag limit changes in western Oregon, where spikes are now legal in the general westside buck rifle season.
For the other blacktail regulation change, where spikes are not legal during antlerless hunts, OSP will track violation data and compare to the recent past regulation. For blacktails, spotlight surveys will be the primary method to determine buck ratios, and this trend will be reported back to the commission and stakeholders annually.
In the general cow elk damage hunts, which are primarily on private lands, ODFW will step up monitoring and reporting of elk populations in adjacent units and ask in mandatory reporting if harvest occurred on private or public land.
ODFW staff will use the established sport group leader meetings to engage in more real time discussions as the reports are drafted each summer after annual population and hunter reporting data is compiled.