Oregon Announces New Protocol for Bear/Cougar Problems

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Wildlife Images, the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, and Oregon State Police have developed new protocols to handle certain wildlife-related issues, the parties announced.

New protocols were developed after a disagreement between the parties last December involving a wounded bear found in downtown Grants Pass. The OSP contacted Wildlife Images to pick up the bear when officers were unable to notify ODFW biologists after hours. The bear was examined, treated and deemed healthy by a local veterinarian. With no place to hold the bear at Wildlife Images, it was released west of Grants Pass.

OSP issued a warning to Wildlife Images and David Siddon after an investigation, which was called for by ODFW. Wildlife Images board requested a meeting between key ODFW officials and board members. The meeting, chaired by Senator Jason Atkinson, facilitated a discussion of concerns of both parties and identified ways to rebuild trust, a good working relationship, and a positive direction for the future. With assistance from Senator Atkinson, the state agencies, Wildlife Images and its Board of Directors have revised procedures to improve communications with the ultimate goal of benefiting the wildlife and people of Southern Oregon.

"We have always had a cooperative relationship with Wildlife Images, and we feel these new tools will continue to strengthen that relationship," said Steve Denney, ODFW Southwest Region Manager.

To ensure ODFW biologists are notified of any future bear or cougar issues in the Jackson/Josephine county areas, the OSP Regional Dispatch Center now will display the biologists’ work and after-hours contact information. Existing and revised protocols have been reviewed by OSP game officers and ODFW biologists. In addition, Rogue District Wildlife Biologist Mark Vargas will work with Wildlife Images staff to communicate any updated ODFW policies and protocols for rehabilitated wildlife.

"This incident highlighted the need for clearer communications and better protocols. Wildlife Images board, management, and staff are committed to working with ODFW to ensure the best care and treatment of wildlife," said Jerry Leagjeld, Wildlife Images Chairman of the Board. "We're committed to continuing a relationship based on trust."

The mission of the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife is to protect and enhance Oregon's fish and wildlife and their habitats for use and enjoyment by present and future generations. The agency consists of the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission, a commission-appointed director and a statewide staff of approximately 950 permanent employees. Headquartered in Salem, ODFW has regional offices in Clackamas, Roseburg, Bend, and La Grande with ten district offices located throughout the state. For additional information, please visit www.dfw.state.or.us.