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Proposed new wildlife holding rules

03/27/16 -- The Commission met today in Salem for a briefing on the 2015 Annual Wolf Report and to hear from panelists about the five-year review of the Wolf Conservation and Management Plan. The panelists were selected from organizations that have been actively engaged in Oregon wolf management over the last 10 years—Cascadia Wildlands, Center for Biological Diversity, Defenders of Wildlife, Oregon Wild, Oregon Cattleman’s Association, Oregon Farm Bureau, Oregon Hunters Association and Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation.

2 wolves in snow, courtesy of CDFW

Panelists discussed some of their concerns about the current Wolf Plan and changes they would ask for during the review process. Commissioner Buckmaster noted the strong positions on both sides and asked groups to go into the process in the spirt of compromise. “I want to see a revised plan that has the same elements of reasonableness and achievability as the current plan and that we can rest our hats on,” he said. “Go in with an open mind.”

The Commission also heard an update on research, evaluation and implementation of the Columbia River non-tribal fishery reform policy. This is the third year of a four-year transition period for management of fisheries in the mainstem Columbia River. Panelists from Salmon for All, Northwest Sportfishing Industry Association, Northwest Steelheaders, Northwest Guides and Anglers and Coastal Conservation Association then participated in a panel discussion about the transition period.

The Commission requested that agency staff try to provide additional information prior to the comprehensive evaluation of the full transition period scheduled for the end of the year.

The Commission was briefed on proposed changes to the Division 44 Protected Wildlife, Holding and Propagation Rules which were developed to protect Oregon’s wildlife and regulate the holding of amphibians, reptiles and other non-game wildlife. They also heard testimony from a number of people who would be affected by the new rules. To allow plenty of time for public input, the Commission will not take any action on the rules until June 9-10 meeting in Salem.

Currently, there are no regulations for the holding of many native species of wildlife that are not hunted or trapped (e.g. non-game), threatened and endangered or held under other permits. The proposed new rules would allow the collection and holding, with no permit required, of up to two individual frogs, snakes, turtles, salamanders, lizards and small mammals from species that are abundant and widely distributed. For example, two Pacific Tree frogs (juvenile, adult or eggs/larval stages) could be collected and kept in an appropriate cage or aquarium.

Once caged, the animal(s) would need to be held for its natural lifetime and not released back to the wild. Unwanted animals could also be turned over to an ODFW office. Animals cannot be released back to the wild due to the risk of introducing disease and other problems that can occur for the released animal and for wild populations.

Several Oregonians currently hold legally acquired bears, cougars, wolves, and bobcats, imported from captive animal breeders. These individuals would be grandfathered in to the new rules but would need a Wildlife Holding Permit ($25/year and already required for all species but skunk) and to maintain minimum care and caging standards outlined in the new rules. New acquisitions or permits for these species would require that the animals be held in a facility accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA). The Commission asked that ODFW staff explore other options minimizing regulation of domestic skunks.

In other business, the Commission:

  • Was briefed on planning for the 2016 ocean salmon seasons which begin May 1.
  • Adopted an amendment to administrative rules for fish and wildlife habitat, which makes a temporary rule permanent for mitigating impacts from development actions in sage-grouse habitat (Division 415 section 0025).
  • Approved funding for Access and Habitat projects to improve wildlife habitat and hunting access in the state.
  • Modified rules for the commercial sea urchin fishery which reduce the number of permits to 12 before the lottery and prohibit enriched air diving in order to maintain current harvest levels.

The Commission is the fish and wildlife policy-making body in Oregon. Its next meeting is April 22 in Bandon.

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