Tag Archives: hunting

Hood Canal Senator Named To Hunters Council’s Hall Of Fame

THE FOLLOWING IS A PRESS RELEASE FROM SEN. TIM SHELDON’S OFFICE

State Sen. Tim Sheldon, D-Potlatch, has been named to the Hunters Heritage Council Hall of Fame for his advocacy for hunters’ rights statewide.

SEN. TIM SHELDON (CENTER) WAS INDUCTED INTO THE HUNTERS HERITAGE COUNCIL’S HALL OF FAME. THE ORGANIZATION REPRESENTS HUNTERS, TRAPPERS AND OTHERS IN OLYMPIA. SHELDON REPRESENTS RESIDENTS OF THE HOOD CANAL AREA. (SEN. SHELDON’S OFFICE)

The organization’s top honor is presented to elected and non-elected officials who go “above and beyond” in championing the rights of hunters. Sheldon is the organization’s sole 2019 inductee.

“It’s a great honor to be selected,” Sheldon said. “In the 35th District, we are closer to the outdoors than many who live in cities, and hunting is part of our way of life. I am a strong believer in hunters’ rights, and will continue to advocate for Washington families that enjoy hunting and fishing.”


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Sheldon joins previous Hall of Fame inductees Rep. Brian Blake, D-Aberdeen, Rep. Joel Kretz, R-Wauconda, Sen. Kirk Pearson, R-Monroe, Sen. Mark Schoesler, R-Ritzville, Sen. Shelley Short, R-Addy, Sen. Dean Takko, D-Longview, former Rep. Jim Buck, R-Port Angeles, former Sen. Brian Hatfield, D-Raymond, and former Sen. Jim Hargrove, D-Hoquiam. Non-legislators in the organization’s Hall of Fame are Jeff Christensen, Ed Owens, Tom Perry and Bobbie and Mike Thorniley.

The Hunters Heritage Council, which represents nearly 30 hunting, trapping and fishing organizations, promotes political action on behalf of the state’s hunting community.

Oregon Spring Bear Hunt Permits Coming Out Of Hibernation A Bit Later Than Usual

THE FOLLOWING IS A PRESS RELEASE FROM THE OREGON DEPARTMENT OF FISH AND WILDLIFE

Results for the spring bear hunt draw will be available by March 1.

RON GARDNER SHOWS OFF A SPRING BLACK BEAR FROM THE OREGON COAST RANGE. AFTER FRIEND CARL LEWALLEN SPOTTED IT ONE AFTERNOON. A SHORT STALK PUT THEM WITHIN 100 YARDS. (ONTARIO KNIFE CO. PHOTO CONTEST)

Results are usually available by Feb. 20, but delayed this year to allow additional time for review and validation of the draw. ODFW always validates controlled hunt draw results (for example by confirming that parties drew correctly and preference points and non-resident quotas on tags were applied correctly) but staff are taking additional time to validate 2019 spring bear results as this is the first draw under ODFW’s new licensing system.

Once spring bear draw results are available, hunters who have already set up their online account can login at the MyODFW.com licensing page and click “Controlled Hunts” under Recreational Portfolio to find their results. Hunters who drew a spring bear tag will see the term “Selected” next to their hunt choice, and those who did not draw will see “Not Selected.”

Draw results cannot be viewed in the MyODFW app, but click “Access full ODFW Account Online” in the app to get to the licensing page and login. Note your spring bear tag will only show up in your MyODFW app after purchase. SportsPac holders who drew their spring bear tag can redeem their voucher by “purchasing” the tag (at no additional cost) through the licensing webpage or at a license sales agent.

Spring bear applicants without an online account can call ODFW Licensing at (503) 947-6101 during regular business hours to get their draw results, or visit a license sales agent.


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All hunters with internet access who are applying for controlled hunts this year are encouraged to visit the MyODFW.com licensing page and access their account online. Use the “Verify/Look Up your account” button to find your profile and set up an online account, where you can easily view draw results and apply for hunts.

IDFG Reports On 2018 Deer, Elk Harvests

THE FOLLOWING IS A PRESS RELEASE FROM THE IDAHO DEPARTMENT OF FISH AND GAME

Hunters took more mule deer and fewer white-tailed deer in 2018 compared to 2017, while the elk harvest was similar between the two years — dropping by less than 2 percent from 2017 to 2018.

The 2018 elk harvest was about 15.4 percent above the 10-year average, and the overall deer harvest was less than 1 percent below the 10-year average. Although white-tailed deer harvest dipped in 2018 compared to 2017, gains in the mule deer harvest – largely from spike and two-point bucks – brought the overall deer harvest for 2018 above that of 2017 .

(IDFG)

ELK
At a glance
Total elk harvest: 22,325
Overall hunter success rate: 23.5 percent
Antlered: 11,326
Antlerless: 10,999
Taken during general hunts: 13,473 (18.2 percent success rate)
Taken during controlled hunts: 8,853 (42 percent success rate)

How it stacks up

The past few years have been a great time to be an elk hunter in Idaho; in fact, the current stretch is among the best in the state’s history. In 2018, elk harvest exceeded 20,000 for the fifth straight year. Going back to 1935, only a nine-year run that started in 1988 – the first year in that hunters harvested more than 20,000 elk in the state – and ran through the mid-1990’s ranks higher.

Harvest in 2018 was similar to 2017, down by just 426 total elk, or about 2 percent, from 2017. The antlered harvest dropped 325 animals, and the antlerless harvest fell by 101 animals. While lower than the prior year, 2018’s elk harvest was still the third-highest in the last decade, and the tenth-highest all time.

(IDFG)

MULE DEER
At a glance
Total mule deer: 26,977
Overall hunter success rate: 31.1 percent
Antlered: 21,471
Antlerless: 5,506
Taken during general hunts: 20,060 (27.1 percent success rate)
Taken during controlled hunts: 6,917 (55.3 percent success rate)

How it stacks up

Hunters harvested 1,480 more mule deer in 2018 than in 2017, an increase of 5.8 percent. The bump in harvest was a step in the right direction after a 31 percent drop in total harvest from 2016 to 2017. The statewide mule deer harvest in 2018 was about 3.5 percent lower than the 10-year average harvest of 27,969 animals.


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Leading up to the 2017 hunting season, Idaho’s mule deer population had been on an upswing, but a tough winter across most of Southern Idaho in 2016-17 resulted in the second-lowest statewide fawn survival rate on record, meaning fewer animals were recruited into the herds for the 2017 hunting seasons.

Those male fawns would have been two-points, or spikes, in the fall of 2017 had they survived, which typically account for a large portion of the mule deer buck harvest. In response to that harsh winter, Fish and Game wildlife managers cut back on antlerless opportunities to protect breeding-age does and help prime the population for a rebound.

Those circumstances resulted in 2,517 fewer antlerless mule deer and 3,709 fewer two points or spikes being harvested in 2017 than 2016. The drop in doe and young buck harvest (spikes and two-points) accounted for more than half of the overall drop in the mule deer harvest in 2017.

There wasn’t much of an increase in antlerless harvest in 2018, as most of the protections for breeding-age does remained in place, but there was a bump in the number of young bucks harvested in 2018 compared to 2017 – a result of an average winter across most of the state and a return to average fawn survival rates.

This age group of bucks accounted for the majority of the uptick in mule deer harvest numbers from the 2017 to the 2018 season. Hunters took 8,975 bucks with two points or less in 2018, up from 6,562 in 2017 – an increase of 2,413 animals, or 38 percent.

(IDFG)

WHITE-TAILED DEER
At a glance
Total white-tailed deer: 25,134
Overall hunter success rate: 41.5 percent
Antlered: 15,163
Antlerless: 9,969
Taken during general hunts: 21,975 (40.2 percent success rate)
Taken during controlled hunts: 3,158 (53.8 percent success rate)

How it stacks up

Statewide, hunters took 1,368 fewer white-tailed deer in 2018 than they did in 2017, a decrease of about 5.2 percent. Despite the dip, white-tailed deer harvest in 2018 remained above the 10-year average of 24,191 animals harvested. It was the fifth-straight year that harvest exceeded 25,000 white-tailed deer. The all-time harvest record of 30,578 was set in 2015, and the 2018 harvest ranks fifth all time.

The vast majority of the white-tailed deer harvest occurs in the Northern Idaho. Hunters in the Panhandle region harvested 10,378 animals in 2018, down about 6.4 percent from the 11,084 white-tailed deer harvested in 2017. In the Clearwater region, hunters harvested 12,464 white-tailed deer in 2018, down about 6 percent from the 13,259 animals harvested in 2017.

“We can have plus or minus 15 to 20 percent in the harvest annually, due to the weather,” said Clay Hickey, Fish and Game’s Regional Wildlife Manager in the Clearwater Region. “Last fall was hot and dry, and we would have expected harvest to be down some without a change in hunter numbers.”

The overall decrease in white-tailed deer harvest was split fairly equally between antlered and antlerless animals: Antlered harvest in 2018 dropped 732 compared with 2017, while antlerless harvest fell by 638. Statewide, the success rate, hunter days, and percentage of five-points remained consistent with 2017.

Washington Gillnet, Fee Hike Bills Set For Public Hearings In Oly

With few new fish- or wildlife-related bills introduced in Washington’s halls of power, it was a nice, slow week for the Olympia Outsider™ to recover from last week’s grievous shoulder owie (and get into rehab for his little muscle relaxant habit).

BILLS ADDRESSING SALMON HATCHERIES, SALMON HABITAT, SALMON PREDATORS AND SALMON CATCHING ARE ACTIVE IN WASHINGTON’S STATE LEGISLATURE.,  (NMFS)

Most of the action came as senators and representatives held public hearings on previously submitted legislation or lawmakers amended bills, including one addressing in part the game fish status of walleye, bass and channel catfish, or gave them do-pass recommendations.

One bill of note was dropped, SB 5824 from Sen. Doug Eriksen, a different take on recovering southern resident killer whales.

“Tearing down dams, major land grabs and land-use restrictions are not the answer,” the Ferndale Republican said in a press release out yesterday. “A more robust hatchery system not only would mean more food for orcas, but also more opportunities for commercial and recreational fishermen, more tourism, and more good-paying jobs in our communities.”


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It would fund construction of a new public-private facility on Bellingham’s waterfront that would operate similar to how some in Alaska are, self-funded through the sale of returning adult pink and coho salmon, as serve as a test for more expansive use of nonstate hatcheries.

At this writing the bill hadn’t been assigned a hearing, nor had another new one (SB 5871) reauthorizing the Columbia River endorsement fee or a third addressing state land management (HB 1983).

Assuming the Great Glacier doesn’t surge out of the Great White North and shove Washington’s capitol into Black Lake over the next few snowy days, next week could still be an interesting one for watchers of state politics, as well as even the occasionally attentive Olympia Outsider™.

The nontribal gillnet phaseout and WDFW’s fee hike bills will be heard before both chambers’ natural resource committees, and who knows what other legislation is waiting in the wings.

Here’s more on those and other bills that are showing signs of life, though sadly the one designating Bainbridge Island (The Wolfiest!™) a sanctuary for wolves has not followed the lead of Punxsutawney Phil and reared its head above ground in any committee yet.

SALMON

Bill title: “Banning the use of nontribal gill nets,” SB 5617
Status: After garnering cosponsorship from 27 of Washington’s 49 state senators at its late January introduction, it is slated for a 1:30 public hearing on Tuesday, Feb. 12. Sportfishing groups like NSIA are calling it a “historic bill” and are urging members to bundle up, chain up, and snowshoe their way to Room 3 of the J.A. Cherberg Building to sign in as “pro.”

LICENSES

Bill title: “Concerning recreational fishing and hunting licenses,” HB 1708 / SB 5692
Status: With a letter of support from 13 state sporting and conservation groups, WDFW’s fee hike bill has been scheduled for a 10 a.m. Feb. 15 public hearing before the House Committee on Rural Development, Agriculture, & Natural Resources, which should provide an even better gauge for how much support it has.

Bill title: “Broadening the eligibility for a reduced recreational hunting and fishing license rate for resident disabled hunters and fishers,” HB 1230
Status: Lawmakers liked this bill, which would set the cost of licenses for resident sportsmen with a permanent disability confirmed by a doctor, a physician’s assistant or a nurse practitioner at half what Washington hunters and anglers pay, giving it a unanimous do-pass recommendation out of House Committee on Rural Development, Agriculture, & Natural Resources. Next stop: House Appropriations.

ORCAS

Bill title: “Implementing recommendations of the southern resident killer whale task force related to increasing chinook abundance,” HB 1579 / SB 5580
Status: While primarily addressing hydraulic code enforcement and saltwater forage fish habitat, a portion targeting walleye, bass and channel catfish for declassification was amended to retain game fish status but directing the Fish and Wildlife Commission to liberalize limits on the species where they swim with salmon this week by the House Rural Development, Agriculture, & Natural Resource.

Bill Title: “Concerning the protection of southern resident orca whales from vessels,” HB 1580 / SB 5577
Status: Had a public hearing before the House Committee on Rural Development, Agriculture, & Natural Resources and is scheduled for an executive session next week.

Bill title: “Addressing the impacts of pinnipeds on populations of threatened southern resident orca prey,” HB 1824
Status: This bill directing WDFW to apply to NOAA for a permit to take out the maximum number of sea lions to increase salmon survival for orcas has been scheduled for an 8 a.m. Feb. 14 public hearing with the House Committee on Environment & Energy.

HUNTING

Bill title: “Concerning visible clothing requirements for hunting,” SB 5148
Status: Hunter pink received a unanimous do-pass recommendation from the Senate Agriculture, Water, Natural Resources & Parks Committee and was sent to Rules Committee where it’s set for a second reading before placement on the Senate Floor calendar.

WILDLIFE

Bill title: “Concerning wildlife damage to agricultural crops,” HB 1875
Status: Dropped this week by a pair of elk country lawmakers, Reps. Eslick and Dent, this bill changing who is on the hook for agricultural damage from deer and wapiti from hunters to the state general fund is scheduled for a 10 a.m. Feb 15 hearing before the House Committee on Rural Development, Agriculture, & Natural Resources.

PREDATORS

Bill title: “Establishing a nonlethal program within the department of fish and wildlife for the purpose of training dogs,” SB 5320
Status: Enjoyed a lot of supportive baying during a public hearing and the Senate Agriculture, Water, Natural Resources & Parks Committee gave it a 6-1 do-pass recommendation and sent it to Rules for a second reading. House version (HB 1516) receives a public hearing today.

OTHER

Bill title: “Designating the Pacific razor clam as the state clam,” HB 1061
Status: Could get a “show” of hands, or at least ayes and nays, after a Feb. 15 executive session in the House Committee on State Government & Tribal Relations.

Bill title: “Concerning payments in lieu of real property taxes,” HB 1662 / SB 5696
Status: Received public hearings in both chambers, with wide support for changing how counties are reimbursed for lands WDFW wildlife area acquisitions take off property tax rolls. Scheduled for an executive session with the House Committee on Rural Development, Agriculture, & Natural Resources next week.

Bill title: “Ensuring compliance with the federal clean water act by prohibiting certain discharges into waters of the state,” HB 1261 / SB 5322
Status: Public hearings held in both chambers’ environmental committees on this bill addressing suction and other mining in critical salmon habitat, with executive session scheduled by the House panel next week.

ALSO ACTIVE

SB 5404, “Expanding the definition of fish habitat enhancement projects,” would include eel grass beds, scheduled for an executive session by Senate Committee on Agriculture, Water, Natural Resources & Parks this afternoon, assuming Snowmaggedon The Reckoning stays away.

HB 1341, “Concerning the use of unmanned aerial systems near certain protected marine species,” given a do-pass recommendation by House Committee on Innovation, Technology & Economic Development and sent to Rules 2 Review

SB 5525, “Concerning whitetail deer population estimates,” addresses Northeast Washington herds, scheduled for a 1:30 p.m., Feb. 14 public hearing before Senate Committee on Agriculture, Water, Natural Resources & Parks

Application Period For Oregon Spring Bear Permits – Even Southwest Now – Open

THE FOLLOWING IS A PRESS RELEASE FROM THE OREGON DEPARTMENT OF FISH AND WILDLIFE

Apply for a spring bear hunt by Feb. 10—including the SW Oregon tag which is now controlled like all other spring bear hunts.

THOMAS HARGGET POSES WITH A BLACK BEAR SHOT DURING A PAST SPRING SEASON IN OREGON. HIS UNCLE CARL LEWALLEN SENT THE IMAGE. (HUNTING PHOTO CONTEST)

Hunters can apply using ODFW’s new online licensing system or at a license sales agent or ODFW office that sells licenses.

If applying online, hunters need to:

  • Verify/Look Up their account on ODFW’s new licensing page and complete set up of online account if not done already.
  • Go to Product Catalog / Product Categories / Big Game Hunting / Controlled Hunts and choose the 700 series spring bear controlled hunt application.
  • Proceed to checkout to make your hunt choices.

If you are applying on a mobile phone, a dropdown menu will cover view of the spring bear application. Just click the arrow next to Product Categories to lift the dropdown menu and see the spring bear application to add to your cart.

Remember that while the electronic licensing system is new, any hunter who has preference points already has an account in ODFW’s new system (as does any hunter/angler who purchased an annual license in the last three years or has Pioneer License, Disability Status or other certifications). Only “new” hunters/anglers who don’t meet these criteria should choose the “I am a new customer…” option to create a new customer account.

Hunters who apply at a license sale agent will also be asked to provide their Hunter/Angler (ODFW) ID number, email, phone number or other information to verify their account.

Fall big game controlled hunt applications are also available for purchase now, either online or at license sale agents. Hunters are encouraged to avoid the last minute rush and apply well before the May 15 deadline this year.

“ODFW customer call volumes are higher than normal due to people reporting their hunts through the new April 15 reporting deadline, or with questions about the new licensing system,” said Linda Lytle, ODFW Licensing Manager. “Get your fall big game application in early this year so if you have any problems there is time to correct it.”

Currently, the ability to change a controlled hunt application after purchase is unavailable due to a system bug. This bug will be fixed early the week of Feb. 4 and spring bear hunters may change their application through the Feb. 10 application deadline.

More about spring bear hunt changes changing for 2019
The SW Spring Bear has been changed from a first-come, first-serve hunt back to a controlled hunt like all other spring bear hunts in Oregon. This change was made as part of ODFW’s regulation simplification process and to better distribute hunting pressure (more than half of the hunters who bought the SW tag did not hunt). The change also means all spring bear hunters will now get a point saver if they don’t draw their first choice hunt.

The Starkey WMU has been added to what was formerly the W. Blue Mts hunt and the area has been split into two new hunts (752A Starkey-Ukiah and 754A Mt Emily-Walla Walla), also to better distribute hunting pressure.

For more information on black bear hunting regulations including hunt numbers visit http://www.eregulations.com/oregon/19orhd/black-bear-seasons/

Hunter Pink Coming To Washington’s Deer Woods?

Blaze pink may be coming to a Washington deer and elk season near you soon.

A bill that would add that color as a second option to orange, which riflemen and some other hunters must swaddle themselves in partially while afield, had a public hearing in Olympia this afternoon.

SEN. LYNDA WILSON TESTIFIES IN SUPPORT OF HER HUNTER PINK BILL WHILE WEARING A PINK CAMO HUNTING VEST IN THIS SCREENSHOT FROM TVW. (TVW)

Prime sponsor Sen. Lynda Wilson, a Clark County Republican, recalled to fellow senators how she’d first heard that pink can be so much brighter to see in the woods than orange, and added that it might also help bring in more female hunters and revenues for conservation.

“The gear is out there,” she said while testifying before the Agriculture, Water, Natural Resources & Parks Committee in a pink camo vest.

The idea behind SB 5148 has been around for several years now.

Other states that have OKed blaze pink include Wisconsin, which was first to do so, Colorado, Louisiana and New York in 2016; Virginia in 2017; and Wyoming and Illinois in 2018.

But Montana lawmakers balked two years ago, and Treasure State hunter Jessica Gray wrote that as a recruiting tool, it was “insulting.”

Back in Olympia, Tom Echols of the Hunters Heritage Council said his organization strongly supported Wilson’s bill.

“While hunter pink is fashionable … that’s not the reason. It’s purely for safety. There is evidence that pink is superior to orange in the field,” Echols said.

In also supporting the bill, David Whipple, WDFW’s Hunter Ed division manager, pointed out that hunting accidents have decreased drastically since states began requiring hunters to wear hunter orange.

“We’re supportive of anything that opens additional doors to hunters as long as it’s safe,” he said.

Essentially, the bill would require the Fish and Wildlife Commission to add pink to the hunts where orange must be worn — during modern firearm deer and elk seasons, overlapping archery and muzzleloader seasons, anyone hunting bears, grouse, etc., in areas where rifle seasons are occurring, and upland bird and game seasons.

Others cosponsoring Wilson’s bill include Sens. Randi Becker (R), Phil Fortunato (R), Guy Palumbo (D), Shelly Short (R), Dean Takko (D), Keith Wagoner (R) and Judy Warnick (R).

Sen. Warnick, who said her husband is a hunter, asked Wilson if sportsmen would have the choice to still wear orange, and Wilson responded that they would.

Sen. Kevin Van De Wege, the Democratic chair of AWNRP, appeared ready to fast track the bill out of the committee.

Also during today’s public hearing, members heard about SB 5320, which would create a program for training dogs for nonlethal pursuit of predators by vetted houndsmen to protect stock and public safety.

Representatives from the Washington Cattlemen’s Association, Washington Farm Bureau, WDFW, Conservation Northwest and even Humane Society of the United States spoke in favor of it.

There was less support, however, for reestablishing a pilot hound hunting program for cougars in six Eastside counties and one on the Westside.

“A good idea then, a good idea now,” Tom Davis of the Farm Bureau termed SB 5100.

Hunting lions was banned by a statewide initiative but a limited hunt was reinstated by lawmakers and extended twice before expiring in 2011.

WDFW was neutral, with the agency’s Mick Cope telling senators that boot hunting seasons in the affected counties — Chelan, Ferry, Klickitat, Mason, Okanogan, Pend Oreille and Stevens — would have to be looked at.

Revised ODFW Wolf Plan Sent To Wildlife Commission For Adoption

THE FOLLOWING IS A PRESS RELEASE FROM THE OREGON DEPARTMENT OF FISH AND WILDLIFE

After completing the last scheduled facilitated meeting with stakeholder representatives on Monday, Jan. 8, ODFW staff are working to finalize a revised Wolf Conservation and Management Plan. That Plan will be presented to the Commission at its March 15 meeting in Salem for final adoption.

SNAKE RIVER PACK WOLVES CAPTURED BY REMOTE CAMERA IN THE HELLS CANYON NATIONAL RECREATION AREA. (ODFW)

Last year, Commissioners decided to postpone Wolf Plan revisions and conduct additional facilitated outreach in hopes of getting more consensus from stakeholders. Professional facilitator Deb Nudelman with Kearns and West facilitated five meetings with stakeholders from late August 2018 through early January 2019.

While stakeholders representing ranching, hunting and wolf conservation came to agreement on some topics, there was no consensus on several of the most controversial issues including the number of livestock depredations that leads to consideration of  lethal removal of wolves when nonlethal deterrents have not worked. Environmental group stakeholders with Oregon Wild, Cascadia Wildlands, Center for Biological Diversity, and Defenders of Wildlife announced late last Friday, Jan. 4 that they would not attend the final meeting.

“We were disappointed these groups left the discussion and we did not have the full stakeholder group present at the final meeting,” said Derek Broman, ODFW Carnivore Coordinator. “Since the drafting of the original 2005 plan, stakeholders remain very passionate so consensus is challenging to achieve.”

The facilitated process was designed to create a space for stakeholders to negotiate and allow for give and take on all sides,” he continued. “We thank all stakeholders for their time and attention at the meetings and for the progress made on several issues, and everyone thanks Kearns and West for their professional facilitating of these meetings.”

Stakeholder groups were able to find some consensus on wolf collaring priorities, the desire to increase the use of nonlethal techniques and funding enhanced population modeling. But stakeholders remained divided on lethal take of wolves when they are killing livestock, including the number and time frame of confirmed depredations before lethal control of wolves is considered.

ODFW is responsible for investigating livestock depredations and uses a rigorous, evidence-based process to determining if a wolf or wolves was responsible.  A certain number of “confirmed” livestock depredations can lead to consideration of lethal removal of wolves by the department or a landowner. Currently, the Plan allows for consideration of lethal removal after two confirmed depredations within no specific time frame, but ODFW typically authorizes lethal removal after three or more confirmed depredations. In practice, ODFW has denied more lethal removal requests for wolves than it has approved.

Since the first Wolf Conservation and Management Plan was approved in 2005, hunting of wolves has been in the Plan as a potential tool to manage wolf populations. Throughout the current review of the Wolf Plan, no proposals have been made by ODFW to begin hunting wolves.  If hunting of wolves were to be proposed by staff in the future, it would have to be approved by the Commission in a public rule-making process.

The Wolf Plan proposal will be available for review prior to the March 15 meeting Commission meeting on the wolf website at www.odfw.com/wolves

Only 3 Days For Skagit Brant Hunters, But Other Westside Areas Open As Scheduled

THE FOLLOWING IS A PRESS RELEASE FROM THE WASHINGTON DEPARTMENT OF FISH AND WILDLIFE

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) announced a restricted, three-day hunting season for brant geese in Skagit County today, while continuing hunts in three other counties where brant counts have been stable.

A BRANT LANDS AMONGST DECOYS SET OFF THE TESORO REFINERY NEAR ANACORTES, IN WESTERN SKAGIT COUNTY, AN IMAGE SUPPLIED TO NORTHWEST SPORTSMAN FOR AN ARTICLE ON THE SPECIES WHICH RAN A COUPLE WINTERS AGO. (MAYNARD AXELSON)

This year’s brant season in Skagit County will occur on Jan. 12, 16, and 19, based on criteria set by the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission in April.

Kyle Spragens, WDFW waterfowl section manager, said the reduced schedule was necessary after aerial bird counts conducted in Skagit County indicated numbers fell short of the 6,000 birds required for a full eight-day hunting season for high arctic brant.

Spragens said population surveys conducted over Padilla, Samish, and Fidalgo bays in Skagit County this winter tallied 5,203 birds, triggering this year’s three-day season.

“The number of hunting days is directly related to how many brant are counted during those surveys,” he said. “These low counts require us to prioritize conservation responsibilities for this distinctive, coastal species, while providing harvest opportunity when appropriate.”

Spragens said annual counts in Skagit brant numbers can vary widely, noting that this is the third restricted brant season in the past four years.

Meanwhile, stable populations of brant that do not return to western high arctic breeding regions have allowed for continued hunting opportunities in other parts of the state.  The state has again approved a brant season – Jan. 12, 16, and 19 – in Clallam and Whatcom Counties.

Counts in those two counties have increased in recent years and have remained above the 1,000 brant threshold for the past three years, the state criteria required to consider seasons in these areas.

Also, the traditional 10-day brant season in Pacific County will open Jan. 12, 13, 15, 17, 19, 20, 22, 24, 26 and 27.

WDFW reminds hunters to familiarize themselves with local regulations and boundaries. Specifically, hunters in Clallam County are advised to consult the closed zones of Dungeness National Wildlife Refuge (https://www.fws.gov/refuge/Dungeness/visit/rules_and_regulations.html) and hunters in Whatcom County are advised to review boundaries relevant to Bellingham and Lummi Bays (https://www.lummi-nsn.gov/Website.php?PageID=39).

Information on brant seasons is available in WDFW’s Migratory Waterfowl and Upland Game Seasons hunting pamphlet at http://wdfw.wa.gov/hunting/regulations/. Brant hunters are reminded they must possess a valid migratory bird authorization and brant harvest report card.

‘Great Victory … For Elk And Elk Habitat’: OHA On US Judge’s Ochoco NF Trail Decision

THE FOLLOWING IS AN OREGON HUNTERS ASSOCIATION PRESS RELEASE

A U.S. District Court Judge in Portland today upheld the August findings of a Pendleton Magistrate Judge, siding with the Oregon Hunters Association (OHA) and other groups who filed suit to stop the U.S. Forest Service from building an additional 137 miles of off highway vehicle (OHV) trails in critical elk habitat on the Ochoco National Forest.

(JIM WARD, OHA)

District Judge Marco Hernandez adopted the findings of Magistrate Judge Patricia Sullivan, who on Aug. 27, ruled for OHA on four of the five claims made against the project. Finding that the Forest Service made an “arbitrary and capricious” decision to approve the project, she recommended that the Record of Decision be set aside. The judge’s decision essentially kills the project unless the Forest Service goes back to the drawing board.

OHA, a nonprofit group of more than 10,000 hunters, filed a lawsuit in 2017 challenging the Forest Service’s Record of Decision to implement the project. OHA’s claims that the project violated road density standards in the Ochoco National Forest Plan and didn’t adequately address protection for elk during calving and rutting seasons prevailed.

“It’s a great victory for OHA and for elk and elk habitat on the forest,” said OHA attorney Scott Jerger. “Judge Hernandez adopted and agreed with all of the Magistrate Judge’s rulings on OHA’s legal claims. The project is now officially dead, and the Forest Service must return to the drawing board to address the numerous legal deficiencies in its analysis.”

Jim Akenson, OHA’s conservation director, was pleased with the decision.

“It’s a good day for elk, hunters, and conservation,” said Akenson. “OHA is not opposed to responsible OHV use, we are just opposed to the disturbance and displacement of elk in critical habitat that would move them off public land onto nearby private land, where they would get themselves into trouble. We filed this lawsuit as a last resort.”

The Ochoco Mountains have historically been some of the best habitat for deer and elk in Oregon. Information published on ODFW’s website reveals that hunting contributes more than $14 million to central Oregon’s tourism economy and more than $104 million to the statewide tourism economy on an annual basis.

OHA’s successful suit was funded by OHA’s Hunter’s Victory Fund and Wildlife SuperFund, with major contributions from OHA’s Bend Chapter and the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation.

OHA (oregonhunters.org) is the state’s largest Oregon-based pro-hunting organization, with 10,000 members and 26 chapters statewide. Its mission is “Protecting Oregon’s wildlife, habitat and hunting heritage.”

Deadline To Report 2018 Oregon Big Game, Turkey Tags Extended To Mid-April

THE FOLLOWING IS A PRESS RELEASE FROM THE OREGON DEPARTMENT OF FISH AND WILDLIFE

The deadline to report all 2018 big game and turkey tags has been extended until April 15, 2019 (from Jan. 31) to give hunters more time to report under ODFW’s new licensing system.

OREGON HUNTERS WILL HAVE THROUGH MID-APRIL TO REPORT THEIR 2018 RESULTS. THE WILLAMETTE VALLEY’S CARL LEWALLEN HARVESTED THIS NICE BLACKTAIL DURING THE LAST HOUR OF THE LATE SEASON. (HUNTING PHOTO CONTEST)

The new deadline applies to all 2018 deer, elk, cougar, bear, antelope and turkey tags. Anyone who purchased one of these tags needs to report—even if they were not successful or didn’t go hunting.

Hunters who fail to report a 2018 deer or elk tag by the new deadline of April 15, 2019 will have to pay $25 when they go to purchase their 2020 annual hunting license.

Hunters are encouraged to report online at ODFW’s Licensing page after using the “Verify/Look Up Account” button to find their account in the new licensing system. After verifying their account, hunters will be able to report and see other account information such as preference points, previous year’s application history, and have the option of going paperless for 2019 license and tags.

Hunters can also report by phone to ODFW’s Licensing Division (503) 947-6101. However, ODFW’s Licensing Division is currently experiencing high call volumes from hunters who want to report by phone or have questions about the new licensing system. The deadline extension will help reduce hold times for customers.

Some hunters who inadvertently created a new account online (rather than verifying/looking up their existing account) are not seeing their tags to report on in the online system. Hunters who are experiencing this problem should send an email to ODFW.Websales@state.or.us that includes the ODFW ID# for their incorrect account and their Hunter/Angler ID# (printed on all licenses/tags from 2018 and prior). The problem will be corrected with 10 business days and hunters will be able to report online.

“We are extending the deadline to provide better customer service to our hunters as they get familiar with our new licensing system,” said Doug Cottam, ODFW Wildlife Division Administrator. “We really appreciate hunters taking time to report, even if they did not hunt or weren’t successful.”

Ways to report your big game or turkey tag:

Online – The fastest and easiest way to report. Go to MyODFW.com and click the green “Buy License/Report Hunt” button. If you have not already verified your account on the new system, use the “Verify/Look Up Account” button (see image) and enter your Hunter/Angler ID (printed on all 2018 and prior licenses and tags) as the ODFW ID, or your email or phone number plus last name and date of birth, to find your profile in the system. After completing account verification online, go under Outcome Reporting (see image) and click “Mandatory Reporting” or “Hunting & Fishing Outcome Reporting” to complete your reports for each big game or turkey tag. Note that a unique email address (not shared by anyone else in the system, including a relative) is required for anyone age 12 and older to create an online account and report online.

Computers are also available at some ODFW offices (Adair Village/Corvallis, Bend, Clackamas, La Grande, Portland-Sauvie Island, Roseburg, Salem Headquarters, Springfield, Tillamook) to Verify/Look Up your account and report online.

By phone – Call ODFW Licensing Division at (503) 947-6101 during regular business hours (Monday-Friday, 8 a.m.-5 p.m.). Have your 2018 license or tag available to provide your Hunter/Angler ID number. ODFW staff who take your call will take a few extra minutes to verify your account in the new system. Important note: the number printed in 2018 Oregon Big Game Regulations (1-866-947-6339) was managed by the old license vendor so reports can no longer be accepted at that number.

The information hunters provide through these reports is used to help understand big game population trends and for setting controlled hunt tag numbers and hunting seasons. Hunter reports help ODFW determine how many people went hunting, how many big game animals were harvested, plus antler points and success rates for each hunt—information which is posted at ODFW’s Big Game Hunting Harvest Statistics page at https://myodfw.com/articles/big-game-hunting-harvest-statistics

Chance to win special big game tag

Hunters that report on time are entered into a drawing to win a special big game tag. ODFW selects three names each year and the winners can choose a deer, elk, or pronghorn tag. Hunters who win get an expanded hunt area and extended season, similar to auction and raffle tags.