Gun bills, coyote contest ban bill on fast track
By Al Elkins & Amy Patrick, OHA Lobbyists
March saw the first bill deadline come and go in the 2021 Legislative Session. The mid-March deadline stopped the bills that were not going anywhere and extended the life of bills that had hearings and work sessions scheduled for the remainder of March and beyond.
HB 2548 Wildlife Corridor Funding
Directs the Legislative Policy and Research Office to study issues related to funding construction of wildlife corridor road crossings and report to legislature its findings on or before Sept. 15, 2022.
Update: At a February hearing, OHA testified in support. The bill had a work session scheduled in late March.
HB 2728 Coyote Contests
It’s back! However, this version has an amendment that protects certain aspects of nonprofit contests (Section 5 of the bill lines 17-19). The bill prohibits a person from conducting or participating in a contest, competition, tournament, or derby that has the objective of taking coyotes for cash or prizes. Provides that prohibition does not apply to raffles conducted by nonprofit organizations if the organization does not award raffle prizes based on number, weight or size of coyotes taken. Punishes violation of prohibition by maximum fine of $2,000.
Update: The bill had a work session. An amendment to allow for a county-by-county vote on contest restrictions failed. The bill was passed out of committee and now goes to House floor for a vote.
HB 2844 Beaver Bill
This bill would remove beaver from both the predatory animal designation and rodent listing in statute. It would hamper a landowner’s ability to deal with damage-causing beavers by removing them from the current management structure and requiring landowners to now receive a permit, similar to furtaker requirements. No exemption for emergency damage mitigation has been included.
Update: The bill had a public hearing. OHA staff worked with Oregon Farm Bureau, Oregon Forest & Industries Council, and the Oregon Cattlemen in a coordinated effort to stop this bill. The bill has not been scheduled for a work session and will not move forward in the legislative session.
SB 630 Elk Damage Tag Bill
Authorizes use of landowner damage tags to take elk on adjacent property with consent of the owner of the adjacent property.
Update: Senator Hansell, the sponsor of the bill, formed a work group to discuss the provisions of the bill in relation to what is currently allowed under ODFW rules related to damage tags. The workgroup consisted of Senator Hansell, landowners, an OHA representative and personnel from ODFW. The workgroup met twice and decided that current ODFW rules address the provisions in the bill. It was therefore decided that no legislation on this subject would be needed at this time.
HB 2543 Firearm Transfer Prohibition
Prohibits transfer of firearms by gun dealers or private parties if OSP is unable to determine whether recipient is qualified to receive a firearm.
Update: OHA opposes this bill, which was scheduled for a work session in late March.
SB 554 Concealed Weapon Laws
Authorizes city, county, metropolitan service district, port operating commercial airport, school district, college, or university to adopt ordinances or policies limiting or precluding affirmative defense for possession of firearms in public buildings by concealed handgun licensees.
Update: OHA opposes this bill, which is now awaiting a floor vote of the Senate.
To learn more about these bills, visit www.oregonlegislature.gov/bills_laws
Trump returns wolf management to states, tribes
More than 45 years after gray wolves were first listed under the Endangered Species Act (ESA), the Trump Administration and its many conservation partners are announcing the successful recovery of the gray wolf and its delisting from the ESA.
State and tribal wildlife management agency professionals will resume responsibility for sustainable management and protection of delisted gray wolves in states with gray wolf populations, while the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service monitors the species for five years to ensure the continued success of the species.
USFWS based its decision solely on the best scientific and commercial data available, a thorough analysis of threats and how they have been alleviated, and the ongoing commitment and proven track record of states and tribes to continue managing for healthy wolf populations once delisted.
This analysis includes the latest information about the wolf’s current and historical distribution in the contiguous United States.
In total, the gray wolf population in the lower 48 states is more than 6,000 wolves, greatly exceeding the combined recovery goals for the Northern Rocky Mountains and Western Great Lakes populations.