Tag Numbers Approved for Limited Entry Big Game Hunts
The Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission today approved tag numbers for this fall’s limited entry hunts for deer, elk, pronghorn, bighorn sheep and Rocky Mountain goats.
The approved tag numbers represent a 4 percent overall decrease compared to last fall. A 3-percent decrease in rifle deer tags is primarily due to a decrease in antlerless tags, lower fawn recruitment in some areas, declining black-tailed deer populations and disease concerns.
Elk harvest tags also were reduced for the 2005 controlled hunts. However, tag numbers were increased for bighorn sheep, and pronghorn antelope.
The Commission approved an either-sex bag limit for deer in 17 Wildlife Management Units for archery hunters and hunters with Permanent Disability Permits. Also approved was an either-sex bag limit for elk hunters with Permanent Disability Permits in 44 WMUs during the general and controlled bull elk hunts.
The Commission is the rule-making body for the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife. The seven-member panel meets monthly to establish policies and administrative regulations for the agency to implement.
The process now begins to award controlled hunt tags to those hunters who applied by May 15. Results will be available June 20. Hunters who were not drawn in a lottery to award the limited number of tags may choose to hunt the general seasons for western Oregon deer and/or elk. There is no limit on the number of general season tags sold. Cougar and fall bear hunting seasons also are managed as general seasons.
The following summarizes the Commission’s action today:
The Commission approved 83,647 deer tags for the 2005 controlled hunt, a 3 percent decrease due largely to significant reductions in eastern and western antlerless, eastern mule deer, and bow hunting allocations. The allocation of rifle buck tags remains unchanged at 62,906, and High Cascade hunters will again see 3,542 tags available this year.
Black-tailed deer populations in many areas of the state continue struggling with Deer Hair Loss Syndrome and habitat changes, and the overall population appears to be declining slightly in recent years. Mule deer populations are stable overall, and white-tailed deer populations – particularly in northeast Oregon – are increasing.
The Commission made no changes to the ODFW staff proposals.
New for this season is a limited hunt for Columbia white-tailed deer. Columbia white-tails were placed on the federal Endangered Species list in 1968 and afforded state Endangered Species protection in 1987. Following a steady recovery, the deer were delisted by the state in 1995 and by the federal government in 2003. Today’s population is estimated at more than 6,350.
The controlled hunt for Columbia white-tailed deer in Douglas County is a buck-only hunt that will provide 20 public tags. Hunter success and impacts on the deer will be carefully monitored.
The Commission approved a 9 percent decrease in controlled hunt tags for Roosevelt elk, and a 7 percent decrease in Rocky Mountain elk tags.
The Commission approved a 9 percent increase in pronghorn tags for 2005, in light of continued increases in doe to fawn ratios and overall pronghorn numbers in south central Oregon . The total number of tags approved is 2,906.
The Commission allocated 75 tags for 38 California bighorn sheep hunts for 2005, which is an 8-tag increase compared to 2004. Eleven tags were allocated for six Rocky Mountain Bighorn sheep.
Hunters are allowed to draw only one bighorn sheep tag in a lifetime through the annual lottery.
For 2006, the Commission preliminarily approved adding four days to the hunting season for Rocky Mountain Bighorns, and new hunts in the Wenaha and Lookout Mountain units. California Bighorn hunters will benefit from a third hunting period added to the John Day River hunt and eight additional tags.
Rocky Mountain Goat:
The Commission allocated five Rocky Mountain goat tags for 2004, and all participating hunters filled their tags. Six tags were issued for the 2005 season, and will be distributed among 6,451 applicants. The bag limit will remain the same for 2006, but the season will be increased by four days.
The Rocky Mountain goat population has grown and expanded its range in recent years.
Cougar damage complaints rose 29 percent in Oregon last year. Hunters harvested 265 cougars, a 6 percent increase from 2003 but still only 47 percent of the total harvest quota.
So far this year, more than 26,000 cougar tags have been sold and more than 80 cougars have been harvested.
Cougar hunters in 2006 will see continuation of the existing seasonal structure and dates, a 15 percent overall harvest quota (668 tags available), and the Commission approved an extension of the mandatory check-in time for harvested cougars.
The Commission gave preliminary approval for the 2006 controlled and general seasons for spring bear, which would remain unchanged from 2005. A new hunt in the Hood Unit is added, and a 5 percent overall tag increase. The total number of spring bear tags available for 2006 spring bear is 6,778.
Season dates for the 2006 General Bear Season will remain unchanged. Hunters will again have the opportunity to purchase two bear tags. The tag sale deadline is Sept. 29.
The Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission is the policy-making body for fish and wildlife issues in the state. The seven-member panel meets monthly. The next regular Commission meeting is July 8 in Salem .