Tag Archives: oregon department of fish and wildlife

ODFW’s 2018 Free Family Fishing Events Kick Off April 7 At Canby Pond

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

Youth anglers are invited to Canby Pond on Saturday, April 7 for the first of 30 free family fishing events that will take place at locations across Oregon in 2018, compliments of the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife’s Outdoor Program.

CANBY POND, WHERE SABRINA LITTLE CAUGHT THIS RAINBOW A FEW SPRINGS AGO, IS THE SITE OF THE FIRST OF 30 FREE FAMILY FISHING EVENTS BEING PUT ON BY THE OREGON DEPARTMENT OF FISH AND WILDLIFE. (YO-ZURI PHOTO CONTEST)

This free event is scheduled for 9:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.

To bolster the odds of catching fish, ODFW will release hundreds of rainbow trout into the pond for the event. In addition, ODFW staff and volunteer instructors will be on location to set people up with rods, reels, tackle, and bait. In addition to stocked trout, the pond contains resident largemouth bass, crappie and bluegill.

“We want to make this experience as fun and easy as possible by providing participants everything they need be successful,” said Jeff Fulop, ODFW fishing event coordinator.

Canby Pond is designated under Oregon fishing regulations as a youth-only and angler with disabilities fishing venue. As such, it is restricted to youngsters ages 17 and under as well as persons in possession of a valid Oregon Disabilities Hunting and Fishing License. Under the 2018 Oregon Sport Fishing Regulations, youngsters do not need a fishing license until the age of 12. Those ages 12-17 must have a youth license in possession, and these can be purchased for $10 at any ODFW field office, license agent or online at myodfw.com. Licenses will not be issued at the event and must be purchased ahead of time.

Canby Pond is a one-acre pond located at Canby Community Park in the southwest portion of Canby. Access the park by traveling south from Hwy. 99E on SW Berg Parkway.

Canby Pond is one of 350 water bodies in Oregon that ODFW regularly stocks with hatchery trout. Persons who are unable to participate in the Canby youth fishing event can explore many other fishing opportunities, stocking schedules and locations at ODFW’s website, myodfw.com under the Fishing tab.

 

Cookie Cutters? Maybe Not Entirely, OSU Research On Hatchery Chinook Suggests

THE FOLLOWING IS A PRESS RELEASE FROM OREGON STATE UNIVERSITY

Hatchery-raised chinook salmon sort themselves into surface- and bottom-oriented groups in their rearing tanks. This behavior might be due in part to the fish’s genes, according to an Oregon State University study.

YOUNG HATCHERY CHINOOK STRATIFY INTO SOME FISH THAT HANG OUT ON THE SURFACE AND SOME THAT LIKE THE BOTTOM. THAT GENETIC BEHAVIOR IS SIMILAR TO THE DIFFERENCE IN WHERE YOUNG WILD WILLAMETTE AND MCKENZIE RIVER CHINOOK OCCUR, ACCORDING TO OREGON STATE UNIVERSITY. (OSU)

The finding, published in the journal Environmental Biology of Fishes, could change a commonly held view that hatchery-raised fish are generally expected to behave in the same manner, said Julia Unrein, who led the study as a master’s degree student in the Oregon Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit in OSU’s College of Agricultural Sciences.

“What we found is hatchery juvenile chinook salmon are not made from the same mold,” Unrein said. “Perhaps by trying to force them to fit our model of what a ‘hatchery fish’ is and constrain them to specific release times, we may be overlooking the variation among individuals that we know is important for the survival of their wild counterparts.”

Carl Schreck, professor in OSU’s Department of Fisheries and Wildlife, said, “The implications relative to Endangered Species Act-listed fish may be profound if they serve to allow the creation of test fish for researchers to use when studying how to successfully get juvenile chinook to safely migrate through Willamette system reservoirs and dams. There are fish culture and habitat restoration implications, as well.”

The researchers first recognized this vertical self-sorting behavior, just as the young fish have used up their yolk and are feeding for the first time, at OSU’s Fish Performance and Genetics Laboratory. They observed that some chinook orient themselves near the surface and the remainder swam along the bottom of the tank.

When the researchers separated the surface- and bottom-fish into different tanks, the fish maintained their preferred vertical distribution for at least a year, Unrein said. The fish that fed at the surface continued to stay near the top and the ones that preferred the bottom remained deeper in the tank, even with the surface fish no longer competing for food that was provided at the surface.

They compared body size between the two groups two months after the first feeding began and then six months later. While initially the same size, by the end of the experiment the surface fish were significantly larger than the bottom fish, Unrein said.

“There were also consistent body shape differences, detected after two months of rearing and again six months later,” she said. “The surface fish had a deeper, shorter head and deeper body than the bottom fish, which was more streamlined. For the next four brood years, we looked at these variations and found they were consistent from year to year. For the fourth brood year, we held families separate to determine if the proportion of the two types of fish varied among families and they did, which suggests genetics plays a role.”

Unrein compared the body types of the surface and bottom fish to wild chinook juveniles collected in the Willamette River Basin by Eric Billman, when he was part of OSU’s research team. She found that surface fish are similar to the wild juveniles that rear in the Willamette River and leave their first fall, while the bottom fish resemble those rearing in the McKenzie River, an upper tributary of the Willamette, that leave as yearling spring smolts.

Unrein’s research was directed by Schreck and David Noakes, professor and senior scientist in the Oregon Hatchery Research Center in the Department of Fisheries and Wildlife.

“It is surprising that such behavioral sorting hadn’t been noticed before given that we’ve seen it at two different facilities, in different stocks of chinook salmon, and over numerous years,” Schreck said. “It is also present, although not as obvious, in steelhead trout.”

The study resulted from observations made during research funded by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Portland District; the U.S. Geological Survey, the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife and the Oregon Hatchery Research Center.

Northeast Oregon Rancher Sentenced For Killing Elk Last Winter

A Northeast Oregon rancher who shot numerous elk on his property last winter received an interesting sentence from a county judge in late June.

Along with fines and loss of hunting privileges, Larry Michael “Mike” Harshfield must work with ODFW and county prosecutors and give three presentations to fellow livestock producers about the right way to deal with elk depredation issues, according to the Wallowa County Chieftain.

AN OREGON STATE POLICE FISH AND WILDLIFE TROOPER INVESTIGATES AN ELK CARCASS. (OSP)

The 69-year-old Wallowa resident was arrested in mid-April on charges of shooting 12, but while Oregon State Police said that they were sending potential charges for the deaths of 13 more found on neighboring land to county prosecutors, ultimately Harshfield pleaded guilty to illegally killing six.

A long, cold, snowy winter led to more elk raiding the Harshfield hay barn. ODFW said it offered a number of potential solutions, which were declined by the family.

The shootings occurred between December and mid-February.

In addition to the presentations, Harshfield was also sentenced to pay $18,000 in restitution, a three-year hunting ban and two-year probation, according to the report.

Oregon Upping Its ‘Trophy Trout’ Program With More Big Rainbows

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

Thousands of extra-large rainbow trout will be released at locations around the state this summer as the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife enters the second year of its “Trophy Trout” program.

Bred to fight, more large rainbow trout than ever are being released at locations around the state this year, adding excitement to what is already one of Oregon’s most popular outdoor activities—trout fishing. ODFW considers a trout a “trophy” once it reaches a length of 15 inches. The department will release more than 65,000 of these fish into Oregon waters in 2017.

THEY’RE NOT ALL AS BIT AS THIS 11-POUNDER ERIKA FORSYTHE LANDED AT HAYSTACK RESERVOIR, BUT ODFW IS RELEASING MORE EXTRA-LARGE TROPHY TROUT THIS SUMMER. (MARK FORSYTHE VIA ODFW)

ODFW has been releasing large trout for years into many lakes around the state. However, during the 2015 legislative session, Rep. Greg Smith (R-Heppner) worked with ODFW to program even more big fish into the mix through a Trophy Trout pilot program, which focused on using bigger fish to promote economic development in communities that rely on hunting and fishing dollars.

Initially, five waterbodies were designated as Trophy Trout lakes—Phillips Reservoir in Baker County, Willow Creek Reservoir in Morrow County, Timothy Lake in Clackamas County, Trojan Pond in Columbia County, and Garrison Lake in Curry County. So far this year, ODFW has released a total of 10,500 trophy trophy trout to jumpstart angler success. Dozens of other locations will receive an additional 55,000 trophies before trout stocking ends in the fall.

First reactions to the program have been positive. At Timothy Lake, a mid-elevation Trophy Trout lake on the Mt. Hood National Forest, biologists are tagging both 8-inch and trophy-sized trout in an effort to get them to call with information about their experience. With stunning views of Mt. Hood, Timothy is generating some buzz among anglers both for its trophy trout and kokanee salmon.

“Almost every angler we talked to was very happy about their fishing experience at Timothy Lake,” said North Willamette District Fish Biologist Todd Alsbury, who would like to see the program expanded even further. Alsbury said he expects angler enthusiasm to grow throughout the summer as the larger fish begin to move around in the lake and anglers begin to discover effective methods of catching them.

Bill Duke, the district fish biologist in Pendleton, reported similar results.

“So far the angler response has been excellent,” said Duke, who also implemented a tag reward program on one of the other Trophy Trout lakes – Willow Creek Reservoir, where anglers have returned six of 15 tags worth $50 each.

“Anglers seem to be putting in considerably more angling effort than I was expecting,” he said. “They are very positive about the larger-sized trout.”

Trophy trout are generally two years old, according to Jake Rice, manager of ODFW’s Roaring River trout hatchery. He noted that as the fish get larger they need more space and food to minimize stress from rearing densities. As with bigger fish, they take more food based on body weight. The additional time in the hatchery means staff needs to keep an eye on potential disease issues longer with the additional year of rearing. All of the fish are inspected monthly by a pathologist, and feed programs are updated on a daily basis to account for size, density, water flow, water temperatures and release date.

“We really stress the importance of health fish, and this take a little more effort and time over the additional year of rearing,” he said, noting there are additional costs associated with bigger fish. There are extra costs associated with raising larger fish but he sees the benefits.

“Our biggest compliments come from the quality of our trophies,” he said.

Trophy trout comprise a small portion of the 2 million trout catchable trout that ODFW releases in more than 300 locations around the state every year. The vast majority of these are referred to in the agency’s Trout Stocking Schedules as “legals” – which are released as soon as they are 8 inches long and meet the legal minimum size for retention fishing in Oregon. Fishery managers believe that shifting hatchery production to a higher percentage of larger fish may help spur interest in trout fishing in Oregon, which ODFW is promoting as a family-friendly outdoor activity through its Trout 365 campaign, 36 Family Fishing Events, and the Weekly Recreation Report.

2017 Trophy Trout Releases

NORTH COAST

Alder Lake (180), Cleawox Lake (822), Dune Lake 180, Munsel Lake (600), Siltcoos Lagoon (141), Olalla Creek Reservoir (600), Big Creek Reservoir #2 (700), Big Creek Reservoir #1 (50), Thissell Pond (380) Eckman Lake (50), Cape Meares Lake (300), Coffenbury Lake (500), Lost Lake (300), Sunset Lake (150), Town Lake (300).

SOUTHWEST

Applegate Reservoir (800), Lost Creek Reservoir (3,100), Fish Lake (1,800), Garrison Lake (1,000), Floras Lake (150), Libby Pond (250), Bradley Lake (400), Lower Empire Lake (650), Upper Empire Lake (650), Johnson’s Mill Pond (50), Powers Pond (250), Ben Irving Reservoir (1,000), Bowman Pond (200), Clearwater Bay-2 (100), Cooper Creek Reservoir (1,500), Hemlock Lake (1,600), Lake in the Woods (100), Lemolo Reservoir (1,700), Lake Marie (800), Red Top Lake (500).

 WILLAMETTE VALLEY

Trojan Ponds (1,500), Harriet Lake (972), Huddleston Pond (225), Timothy Lake (2,500), Trillium Lake (533), Sheridan Pond (225), Olallie Lake (305), EE Wilson Pond (75), Junction City Pond (100).

CENTRAL OREGON

Bend Pine Nursery (150), Prineville Youth Pond (300), Shevlin Pond (340), Fall River (400), Haystack Reservoir (75), Walton Lake (150), North Twin Lake (2,250), South Twin Lake (2,250), Antelope Flat (150), Hosmer Lake (150), Sparks Lake (125), Three Creek Lake (150), Rock Creek Reservoir (700), Pine Hollow Reservoir (200), Bikini Pond (50), Clear Lake (700), Lost Lake (1,600), Frog Lake (600), Pine Hollow Reservoir (750), Taylor Lake (750).

 NORTHEAST OREGON

Willow Creek Reservoir (2,250), Murry Reservoir (250), Thief Valley Reservoir (500), Hwy. 203 Pond (625), Morgan Lake (250), Holliday Park Pond (100), 7th Street Pond (100), Weaver Pond (75), Marr Pond (400), Victor Pond (50), Kinney Lake (1,000), Phillips Reservoir (4,000), Weston Pond (200), Hatrock Pond (190), McNary Ponds (400), Salt Creek Pond (150), Cavender Pond (100), Honeymoon Pond (150), Teepee Pond (150), South Umatilla Forest Ponds (112), Twin Ponds (225), Brandon’s Pond (100), Wallowa Lake (1,600), North Umatilla Forest Ponds (270), South Walla Walla Forest Ponds (157), Bull Prairie Reservoir (690), Cutsforth Pond (90), McGraw Pond (125), Magone Lake (1,350), North Walla Walla Forest Ponds (180), Anthony Lake (3,450), Fish Lake (200), Twin Lake (200), Jubilee Lake (1,000), Long Creek Ponds (100).

 SOUTHEAST OREGON

Burns Gravel Pone (100), Fish Lake (500), Poison Creek Reservoir (200), Priday Reservoir (500), Lofton Reservoir (1,150), Holbrook Reservoir (1,250), Heart Lake (250), LD Bennett Pond (50), Vee Lake (100), Lake of the Woods (3,500), Fourmile Lake (2,500).

ODFW Looking For Input On 2017 Columbia Gorge, Tribs Steelhead Seasons

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

The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife will host a public meeting on May 11 to solicit input for recreational summer steelhead fisheries upstream of Bonneville Dam in the mainstem Columbia River and adjacent streams, including the lower Deschutes and John Day rivers. The meeting that will be held at the ODFW Screen Shop, 3561 Klindt Drive, in The Dalles.  The meeting starts at 6:30 p.m. and ends at 8:30 p.m.

COLUMBIA GORGE STEELHEAD ANGLERS LIKE ROGER GUZMAN, HERE WITH A JOHN DAY-AREA SUMMER-RUN, ARE BEING ASKED FOR INPUT ON THIS YEAR’S SEASONS. (FISHING PHOTO CONTEST)

Forecasted 2017 returns for Columbia and Snake River summer steelhead are at unprecedentedly low levels and restrictions to recreational fisheries will be necessary. The agenda will include an overview of the 2017 summer steelhead forecast and Columbia River fall fisheries proposals.  Management issues and the season structure for Columbia River sport fisheries (including the lower Deschutes and John Day rivers) will be discussed.

People who cannot attend the meeting can send input to John North (john.a.north@state.or.us), Rod French (rod.a.french@state.or.us), or Tucker Jones (tucker.a.jones@state.or.us)

ODFW Deploys Drones To Survey North Coast Elk

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

From their vantage point high atop the Oregon Coast Range, Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife biologist Herman Biederbeck and two researchers from Oregon State University can see almost forever as the first rays of sunlight peek over the top of Saddle Mountain in the distance to the east.

Below is the Young’s River basin and a patchwork of thousands of acres forest land interspersed with clear-cuts – ideal elk habitat.

A DRONE FLIES NEAR SADDLE MOUNTAIN, IN THE FOOTHILLS OF OREGON’S NORTH COAST, DURING INITIAL TESTING FOR USE DURING ELK SURVEYS. (RICK SWART, ODFW)

The researchers, Jonathan Burnett and Cory Garms, both Ph.D. students in the Department of Forest Engineering, Resources and Management at OSU, want to find out whether unmanned aerial systems (UAS) or “drones” can be used effectively to count elk in this kind of terrain.

Preliminary results of field trials conducted on the North Coast near Astoria suggests that they can.

ODFW HERMAN BIEDERBECK AND OREGON STATE UNIVERSITY RESEARCHERS JON BURNETT AND CORY GARMS MONITOR THE FLIGHT OF A DRONE. (RICK SWART, ODFW)

“UAS technology has promise to be relatively inexpensive and safe – much safer – than the way we survey elk now, which is generally from a helicopter,” said Biederbeck, a wildlife biologist with ODFW for 38 years.

This year’s field trial in Clatsop County is the first time that UAS technology has been used to count elk in Oregon, although ODFW has used drones to survey salmon spawning in rivers and as well as cormorant abundance along the Oregon coast.

(RICK SWART, ODFW)

ODFW conducts yearly elk population/composition surveys to make sure that age and sex ratios stay healthy.

“It’s part of our mission to monitor these populations to ensure they are being well managed for the public,” said Biederbeck.

This year drones were used in two field trials, one in January and another in March. The first tested the drone camera’s ability to capture imagery that allows biologists to classify elk by age and sex. A later field trial tested the aircraft’s ability to measure elk densities in forest stand types, another useful metric for managing elk.

ODFW currently contracts helicopters at a cost of $1,000 to $1,100 an hour to do this job. The agency staffs them with ODFW employees who look for and document elk in flights conducted year after year over the same survey units for statistical accuracy.

MANNED VS. UNMANNED AIRCRAFT

Each aerial system has its advantages and disadvantages, according to Biederbeck, who notes that with a helicopter, observers can view great expanses of landscape in real time by scanning their eyes in front and to the sides of the airship. Crew members can also ask the pilot to reposition the machine for a better look at animals, which can be especially helpful when it comes to distinguishing elk calves from adults. In addition, helicopters are much heavier and more powerful than drones and can fly in a wider range of weather conditions. The down side is unless they have a hand-held camera on board, observers only get one chance to classify elk – right then and there.

In addition to their relatively low cost, drones have the advantage of recording images that can be reviewed on a computer back at the office. Human safety is one major benefit of the UAS. People can get hurt or even killed in a helicopter. For example, two ODFW biologists, Holly Huchko and Eric Himmelreich, suffered broken bones but fortunately survived a helicopter crash a few years ago while conducting fish surveys on the Umpqua River in southern Oregon.

The drones used in this year’s experiment on the North Coast cost about $1,700 apiece, according to Burnett, although the thermal sensor adds another $3,500 to the cost of the system.

A DRONE SITS ON A LOGGING DECK PRIOR TO TAKEOFF. (RICK SWART, ODFW)

As darkness gives way to dawn, the first of two drones is prepared for flight. It is jet black in color, with flashing red night lights on the sides, and thermal imaging equipment on board. Its job is to detect elk hidden in the trees by keying in on their heat signatures with a heat-sensitive infrared camera.

A second drone – white, and equipped with a high definition video camera – will fly as soon as the black one gets back from its mission. The video camera is mounted on a gimbal that lets the drone operator tilt, turn, and pan the camera with a joystick that can also steer the aircraft.

After a turn at the end of one run along the serpentine-shaped run, the camera swivels from pointed directly at the ground to straight ahead toward the next GPS waypoint. The recording is set to overlap video from each pass so the video from each stretch can be “stitched together” with imaging software to so that every inch of the survey area is pictured.

The drones can fly essentially the same survey areas as helicopter in a single flight, according to Biederbeck, but likely take more passes because cameras do not have the same field of view as humans, who are able to scan the whole horizon and turn quickly from side to side with a simple twist or turn of the head.

With takeoff just minutes away, Burnett double-checks the flight path glowing from a laptop in the back of his SUV. A yellow line on the computer screen shows the exact course the aircraft will follow, a series of switchbacks. The route is made by programming GPS coordinates into the drone’s navigation system ahead of time.

A MAP TRACES THE PATH OF THE DRONE OVER ELK HABITAT. (ODFW)

REGULATORY BARRIERS REMAIN

Each flight lasts about 30 minutes, and the drone follows GPS coordinates automatically, although the pilot can override the navigation software to assume control the vehicle manually. FAA rules require a designated spotter be present and maintain visual contact with the aircraft throughout the flight. The aircraft are battery-powered and are programmed to return to base automatically whenever they detect their batteries are getting low.

This technology is a potentially powerful tool for conducting scientific inquiry, according to Burnett, although many regulatory barriers to effective implementation remain, notably Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) rules.

“Throughout this study there have been two major regulatory limitations to assessing the true cost-benefit of using UAS for elk survey,” said Burnett. One limitation is the current 400-foot altitude ceiling. The other is the requirement to maintain line of sight on the aircraft during its flight.

Higher altitudes and greater coverage area on each flight would translate to fewer flights and lower odds of counting the same animals more than once, according to Burnett.

“This technology demonstration is one small step in bridging the gap between what we currently can do and what we ultimately want to do,” he said.

Biederbeck and Burnett expect to extend this research by seeking FAA waivers and perhaps acquiring a fixed-wing UAS with up to three-hour flight endurance that may be equipped with both thermal and color cameras.

“There is more operational technology out there. We’ll have to see how costs and FAA regulations affect our ability to use them,” said Biederbeck.

Oregon Controlled Tag Deadline Just 2 Weeks Away, May 15

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

Fall may be months away but it’s time to start planning your big game hunt. Don’t forget to apply for a controlled hunt by Monday, May 15 at 11:59 p.m. PT.

Apply online, at a license sales agent or ODFW office that sells licenses, or by mail/fax order. The cost is $8 per application and hunters need a 2017 annual hunting license to apply.
Last year, more than half of the 467,028 applications were submitted in the last week before the deadline, including nearly 74,149 on deadline day. Many hunters wait till the last minute to apply, which can cause long lines at license sales stores and ODFW offices.

HUNTER CJ ZITA (RIGHT) WITH HIS 2016 COLUMBIA BASIN PREMIUM DEER, A FINE MULEY BUCK. (VIA ODFW)

“Get your application in early to avoid the long lines and if you do wait until the last minute, be sure to check store hours where you plan to apply,” recommends Linda Lytle, ODFW license sales manager. ‘Remember you can submit an application online until 11:59 p.m. PT on May 15.”

Lytle also urged hunters to avoid common mistakes on applications. “Double check your hunt number against the 2017 Oregon Big Game Regulations, make sure your party leader number is correct, and check your current preference points at the My Hunter Information page,” she said. “And before you walk out of the store or ODFW office, check your application to be sure it’s correct.”

New this year as part of efforts to simplify the regulations, final tag numbers are already printed in the 2017 Oregon Big Game Regulations. (Previously, big game tag numbers for fall were not formally adopted until June.) Due to the severe winter in parts of eastern Oregon and higher winter mortality of wildlife, there have been some tag reductions for deer and pronghorn hunts in Baker, Union and northern Malheur county units. More information

ODFW limits the number of tags for some hunts (all rifle deer and most rifle elk hunting in eastern Oregon, plus all pronghorn, Rocky Mtn goat and bighorn sheep hunting) to fairly distribute tags and control hunting pressure. Hunters who apply for one of the controlled deer, elk or pronghorn hunts and don’t draw their first choice receive a preference point for that hunt series, which increases their chances the following year.

While the most sought after hunts can take more than 10 years to draw, every hunter has a chance to draw each year. Only 75 percent of tags are awarded based on preference points; the remaining 25 percent are awarded randomly among first choice applicants. Find out more about how the process works on ODFW’s Controlled Hunts page.

2016 Premium Hunt Winners rave about experience

Last year was the first year that Oregon offered “Premium Hunts,” special deer, elk and pronghorn tags with a months-long hunting season that includes both early and late season opportunity. The same number of tags are available this year—one Premium Deer tag in each of Oregon’s 67 wildlife management units, one Premium Elk tag in 59 hunts, and one Premium Pronghorn tag in 27 hunts. (A few elk and pronghorn Premium Hunts include two units.)

Unlike regular controlled hunts, Premium Hunts don’t use preference points, so every hunter who applies has the same chance ever year. Premium Hunts are also considered additional hunting opportunities, meaning hunters who draw one of these tags can still hunt on a regular controlled or general season big game tag. The hunts are open to both residents and non-residents and are not “once-in-a-lifetime” hunts, so hunters can reapply even if they drew a Premium Hunt tag last year. Applications also cost $8 and Premium Hunt tags are the same price as other deer, elk and pronghorn tags.

While the bag limit for Premium Hunts is any-sex, most 2016 Premium Hunt winners took a male animal. Among hunters who reported, 39 Premium Deer hunters took four-point bucks and 18 Premium Elk hunters took six-point bulls.

Second-year hunter Kayla Hathorn of Bonanza, Ore. says “I’ve never seen, or imagined getting any harvest larger than a four-point.” She took a six-point buck in the Sprague Unit.

“The length of the hunt gave me a chance to grow as a beginner elk hunter and I really became a better elk hunter overall,” said Nick Baszler of Creswell, Ore., who took an impressive elk in Sled Springs Unit.

Kent Berkey of Enterprise, Ore. took a very nice mule deer buck in the Imnaha Unit. “I looked at over 60 bucks, all on public lands, and saw two bigger than the one I harvested,” he said.

Tim Mickelson of Independence, Ore. took a “speedgoat” aka a pronghorn in Beatys Butte. “It was so nice being able to hunt speed goats that had not been pressured by other hunters,” Mickelson said. “Thank you ODFW for the unique opportunity to harvest this unique, beautiful, symbol of the American West.”

The most applied-for units for Premium Hunt applications last year were Metolius for deer, Mt Emily for elk and Juniper for pronghorn while the least applied-for were Sixes for deer, Klamath Falls for elk, and Sprague for pronghorn.

See pictures of the winners, hear their stories and learn more at ODFW’s Premium Hunts page or Facebook page. Applications for Premium Hunts are also due by May 15, 2017.

More Details Emerge On Northeast Oregon Elk Killing

The wife of and an attorney for a Northeast Oregon rancher accused of killing as many as 25 elk this past winter are fighting back.

A week ago it was reported that Larry Harshfield, 69, had been arrested and lodged in jail April 8 on 12 counts of unlawful closed-season take and 12 counts of wastage for a dozen elk found slaughtered on his property north of Wallowa in February, with charges for 13 more rotting away on neighboring ground forwarded to county prosecutors.

AN OREGON STATE POLICE FISH AND WILDLIFE TROOPER INVESTIGATES AN ELK CARCASS. (OSP)

The news led to outrage on social media, but also claims that the full story wasn’t being told.

The Wallowa County Chieftain stated that it was unable to get ranchers to talk to them, but an article out yesterday afternoon sheds some more light on the situation.

Pam Harshfield told The Oregonian that the elk herd in the area has grown tenfold in two decades, making it harder and harder for the family to keep the animals out of the haystacks they put up for cattle they raise.

This past winter, one of the harshest in more than 20 years, compounded things. If you recall from our story about conditions not too far north of here, elk cleaned out an entire shed full of 30-plus-year-old hay on Washington’s Grande Ronde, while in Idaho elk and pronghorn were driven towards homes where they browsed on a deadly landscaping shrub.

“We have to care for our animals all day long in subzero temps and then care for 200 of the State of Oregon’s elk herd all night long,” Pam Harshfield said in an email, reported the paper’s Andrew Theen.

He included a statement from her husband’s attorney, Lissa Casey of Eugene, who castigated the Oregon State Police for putting out a press release on the April 8 arrest of her client, first to local news outlets, then yesterday more broadly.

“Instead of letting this case proceed as other criminal cases do, law enforcement arrested a hard-working rancher to provide information for their press releases,” Casey emailed, Theen reported. “He and his family can’t be silent anymore in the face of the public information campaign the government is waging against him.”

After word broke April 13, it initially caught the attention of Glenn Palmer, sheriff of Grant County, Oregon. Writing on his personal Facebook page at Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, he spoke to the cost and damage caused by elk coming to feed on rancher haystacks.

He said that while he “can see and understand frustration … I don’t agree with it but ODFW needs to be in a position to help and mitigate these issues.

That led to a response a couple hours later from the wildlife agency that in fact it had been helping mitigate the issues on the Harshfield Ranch.

Late last week spokesman Michelle Dennehy confirmed to Northwest Sportsman the following statement came from ODFW:

Elk can cause significant damage (especially after a rough winter like this year’s). ODFW works with landowners to in a variety of ways to try to limit this damage. In this case, ODFW has been working with the involved individuals for several years to try to address elk damage on their property. In past, we have helped cost-share alfalfa seed, fertilizer and noxious weed spraying on the property.

This year we issued them a hazing permit and shotgun shells for hazing. We issued elk damage tags to anyone they authorized and who came to us for the tags. We offered to set up an emergency hunt, which the landowners declined because they wanted more control than that program allowed over who could hunt. (These landowners also do not generally allow public hunting which can help address damage). ODFW offered them a kill permit, which they also declined because it requires the permittee to skin, dress, and transport the carcasses to a meat processor for charity which they did not want to do.

ODFW gave the landowners plastic netting to wrap their hay sheds. We were also discussing a plan to supply woven wire fencing to protect their hay sheds. That didn’t happen this winter but we were in discussions to provide in spring.

The Oregonian‘s Theen reports the Harshfields are “hesitant” to allow hunters onto their 450 acres because they would “feel responsible” if bullets were winged at elk in the direction of neighbors’ homes.

Aerial imagery shows structures to the north, west and south of the ranch, with rising open rangeland to the east.

They also question field dressing game without help during such harsh conditions, and claim the venison wasn’t wasted, as it provided carrion to eagles and whatnot.

As it stands, during one of the roughest winters in recent memory, a herd of Oregon’s elk received the toughest of treatments imaginable.

Larry Harshfield will be arraigned next month on the 24 misdemeanor charges, which if convicted could bring fines of as much as $6,250 per count, plus loss of hunting privileges for three years and seizure of any weapon used to kill said elk, according to OSP.

ODFW Reverses Course On Wickiup Kokanee Bag, Season Rules

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

The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife has rescinded two emergency rules that would have removed the kokanee “bonus bag” on Wickiup Reservoir, and closed the Deschutes River arm of the reservoir a month earlier in late summer.

STEPHANIE PEMBLE CAUGHT THIS KOKANEE AT WICKIUP RESERVOIR WITH GUIDE JON WILEY. (FISHING PHOTO CONTEST)

The rules were intended to protect natural reproduction in the reservoir under new water management rules that could affect key spawning grounds.

“We’re going to take a step back to do some additional monitoring and to engage the angling community in a discussion of what the fish management options are for Wickiup under the new water regime,” said Brett Hodgson, ODFW fish manager.

Wickiup Reservoir will open to fishing on April 22 under the regulations printed in the 2017 Oregon Sport Fishing Regulations.

Harsh Winter Leads To Emergency Reduction Of East Oregon Deer, Antelope Tags

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

Tag reductions for deer, pronghorn in parts of eastern Oregon due to high winter mortality

Baker, northern Malheur, and Union County hunts to see 25-50% reduction

Temperatures never reached freezing for 28 consecutive days and hit as low as -23 in Baker County this past winter. The snow depth exceeded 18 inches throughout the county.

District Wildlife Biologist Brian Ratliff compared this year’s winter to 1993-94. “It came early, it lasted long and the snow kept accumulating,” he said. “We have had winters like this historically but not in the last 10 years.”

MULE DEER GATHERED ON WINTER RANGE IN THE KEATING UNIT. ODFW REPORTS THE SNOW CAME EARLY AND LASTED LONG, “CAUSING HIGH MULE DEER FAWN MORTALITY.” (ODFW)

Early spring flight surveys of mule deer showed the winter took a toll on mule deer. Usually, surveys count fawn ratios (fawns per 100 adults) in the mid-30s. This year, 11 fawns per 100 adults on average were counted across the county with some units being as low as 8 per 100 adults. While the average winter loss of adult radio-collared does being studied in the Blue Mountains is around 8 percent, Baker County lost 32 percent.

The region’s Rocky Mountain elk fared better due to their larger size, so there are no reductions in elk tags. “We saw some elk mortality, as we always do, but it was not significant,” Ratliff explained. “Due to their size, elk can generate more body heat at less energetic cost and they can get thru crustier snow easier than smaller ungulates like deer and pronghorn.”

ODFW is reducing pronghorn and mule deer controlled tags in the units effected to conserve wildlife populations. Hunters in these units should expect to see fewer yearling animals (spikes and 2-points) this fall.  (These age classes made up about 33 percent of Baker County’s harvest last year.)

Baker County pronghorn and buck tags will be reduced by 50 percent, and two doe hunts on agricultural lands will be cancelled. Union County tags will be reduced 35 percent. Malheur County tags will be reduced by 40 percent in the Beulah Unit and 25 percent in the Owyhee Unit. See the table below for the full list of hunts reduced and final tag numbers. (The Tag #s Now Available figures will replace what is currently printed in the 2017 Oregon Big Game Regulations.)

Landowner Preference tags will also be reduced.

Hunters who have already applied for one of the controlled hunts effected may change their hunt choices free of charge until June 1, 2017. Use the Controlled Hunt Application Change Request form found online and mail, fax or hand it in to an ODFW office (hunt choices cannot be changed through the online sales system).

While surveying big game herds in early spring, Ratliff even saw pronghorn on the frozen Snake River, a sight he’s never witnessed during 12 years as a wildlife biologist in the region. “The deer went as low as they could possibly go,” he said, referring to deer’s annual migration to lower-elevation winter range to survive the winter. “I saw them in places I’d never seen them before. But there was no forage for them that wasn’t covered by snow and it was just really tough on fawns.”

Ratliff says it may take a few years of good fawn production to bring back the population. The above-average snowpack and improved range conditions from all the water this year will help with fawn production and should benefit mule deer and other wildlife populations in the long term.

 

2017 Emergency Tag Reductions
Hunt # Hunt Name % Tag Reduction Tag #s Now Available
100 Series Buck Deer    
151 Sumpter Unit -50% 825
152A Starkey -35% 537
153 Catherine Cr Unit -35% 273
154A E. Mt. Emily -35% 137
162 Pine Creek Unit -50% 193
163 Keating Unit -50% 270
164 Lookout Mtn Unit -50% 159
165 Beulah Unit -40% 1,188
165A SE Beulah -40% 297
166 Malheur River Unit -35% 1,210
167 Owyhee Unit -25% 327
167A NE Owyhee -25% 103
600 Series Antlerless Deer
651T Baker No.1 Youth -50% 17
651A Sumpter-Unity Ag -100% No Tags
663A Keating Ag -100% No Tags
400 Series, Pronghorn
451b South Sumpter -52% 13
463 Keating Unit -50% 6
464 Lookout Mtn Unit -53% 8
464R Lookout Mtn Unit Bow -50% 11
465 Beulah Unit -40% 54
467 Owyhee Unit -25% 61
467R Owyhee Unit Bow -25% 54