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Salmon, Halibut, bird hunting regulations

04/25/16 -- The Fish and Wildlife Commission adopted bird hunting and fishing regulations today at its meeting in Bandon, Ore.

Ocean salmon seasons: The Commission set ocean salmon fishing seasons in state waters based on what was decided by the PFMC on April 14. Fishery managers are taking a cautious approach for 2016 coho seasons due to an overforecast in 2015 and poor ocean conditions that could impact this year’s return.

Chinook – Cape Falcon south to Humbug Mt. open March 15-Oct. 31. Humbug Mt. to Oregon/California border, open May 28 – Aug. 7 and Sept. 3-5.

Coho seasons – A mark-selective coho season from June 25 through the earlier of Aug. 7 or a 26,000 fish quota, and a non-mark-selective coho season from Sept. 3 through the earlier of Sept. 30 or a 7,500 fish quota. Unlike prior years, there will be no rollover of unused impacts from the summer season to the September fishery. State managers will monitor the fisheries and may recommend further reduction or closure of the September coho season if performance of the earlier summer fishery indicates low abundance.

Opportunities for harvest of wild coho in coastal rivers will be very limited in 2016. ODFW may also propose very conservative fisheries in the Umpqua, Coos, and Coquille rivers as well as traditional coastal lake fisheries. These decisions will be made in June. Due to recent poor returns in mid-Coast and North Coast areas, ODFW does not intend to propose wild harvest fisheries in areas north of the Umpqua River.

The Commission also adopted late fall terminal ocean fisheries for Chinook in the Elk River and Chetco River areas. Season regulations can be found at odfw.com

Pacific Halibut Regulations: The Commission also set Pacific Halibut regulations which are posted on the ODFW Website. The total 2016 catch limit will be 1,140,000 pounds, 17 percent more than in 2015. Changes to the sport fisheries:

  • The opening date of the Central Coast subarea nearshore fishery will move up one month (to June 1, 2016 from July 1 last year) to provide additional halibut fishing opportunity early in the season.
  • In Southern Oregon Coast subarea, retention of other flatfish will be allowed while halibut are on board, at all depths.

Game bird season regulations for 2016-17. Commission adopted bird hunting regulations with the following changes from the 2015-16 season. Printed regulations will be available in early August.

  • Allow youth hunters 17 or younger to participate during the September youth waterfowl hunting weekend. Prior federal regulations restricted this hunt to youths 15 or younger but were recently changed to allow 17 or younger.
  • Combine three controlled fall turkey hunts (Baker, Grande Ronde, Wallowa) into one general season “Northeast Fall Turkey Hunt” with 450 tags available over-the-counter on a first-come first service basis starting July 1. Blue Mountain controlled fall turkey hunt will also become a general season hunt with 500 tags available starting July 1. The popular White River fall hunt will remain controlled due to the high number of applicants (approx. 3 per available tag).
  • Changes to Klamath Wildlife Area hunting regulations will allow game bird hunting on Monday, Wednesdays and Saturdays from October-November (except both Saturday and Sunday would be open on opening weekend of duck and pheasant season) and every day in January. This will reduce confusion from current regulations which allow hunting every other day.
  • Daily upland game bird hunting hours at Klamath WA will change to 10 a.m. throughout the waterfowl season to better distribute hunting pressure (currently begins 8 a.m. which conflicts with early morning waterfowl hunters).
  • Closed most of Klamath WA (except birding trail, parking areas, public roads, dog training area) to access from Feb. 1-April 30 and prohibit the running or training of dogs at Klamath WA through Aug. 31(currently July 31) to protect birds. This is not expected to make a huge impact on visitors as most visitors use the sections that will remain open.
  • Formally require completion and return of daily wildlife area hunting permits at wildlife areas where they are used (permits indicate hunter effort and harvest).
  • Remove the requirement for upland game bird (pheasants, grouse, partridges, and quail) and crow hunters to obtain HIP validations to hunt for these species. Migratory game bird hunters (mourning doves, band-tailed pigeons, snipe, ducks, geese, and coots) will still need to obtain a migratory game bird HIP validation prior to hunting.

Other topics considered at the meeting:

Ceremonial tribal fishery at Willamette Falls: Approved the annual ceremonial harvest of up to 15 hatchery salmon and steelhead fish at Willamette Falls by the Confederated Tribes of the Grande Ronde Community of Oregon. “The rule and fishing at Willamette Falls will have a profound impact on the Grande Ronde people,” said Reyn Leno, tribal chairman, whose grandfather managed Willamette Falls.

Cougar Management Plan: Heard from ODFW staff and invited panelists from a variety of organizations representing hunters, farmers and environmental groups regarding cougars and the state’s current Cougar Management Plan. The Plan was last revised in 2006 and is due for an update this year. The Commission asked that ODFW staff provide a review of scientific literature that occurred in past 10 years and incorporate that into the Plan. A draft revised Plan should be available for review by the public this fall.

Coquille Valley Wildlife Area Plan: The Commission adopted a management plan for this new wildlife area, paving the way for habitat restoration, access development, and recreational and educational opportunities. Established in 2013, the 580-acre CVWA will be actively managed to protect and enhance native fish and wildlife and their habitats in ways that are compatible with neighboring agricultural lands. The local economy will profit from public access to high quality waterfowl habitat for hunting and wildlife viewing and habitat improvements that will boost fisheries. Wetland restoration will help overwintering migratory birds and Oregon Conservation Strategy Species such as coho salmon, Aleutian Canada goose, Western pond turtles, bats and songbirds. Creating channels and planting vegetation will restore a functioning freshwater tidal wetland in the Winter Lake Tract of the CVWA. The Plan was a collaborative effort and includes input from partners like The Nature Conservancy and stakeholders including adjacent landowners, hunters, other natural resource agencies and managers of the Beaver Slough Drainage District.

Wildlife Violator Compact – In effect since 1991, this agreement allows ODFW to suspend the Oregon fishing, hunting and trapping privileges of people who violate wildlife laws in another state participating in the Compact. The Commission changed some rule language to allow for suspensions from other state cases where charges may not necessarily result in suspension in Oregon, such as some violations of federal laws. The change is in line with the original intent of the Compact.

The Commission is the policy-making body for fish and wildlife issues in Oregon and usually meets monthly. Its next meeting is June 9-10 in Salem.


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