By Zach Widner, Northwest States Senior Manager
On February 21, the Oregon House Natural Resources Committee held two hearings on a bill that would expand opportunities for hunters to pursue mountain lions with the use of dogs.
House Bill 2795, sponsored by Representatives Brian Clem and Bill Post, “Directs the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) to create a pilot program that allows persons to use dogs for hunting, or nonlethal pursuit of, cougars within a county electing to participate in the pilot-program.” If passed, 12 Oregon counties would have the choice to participate in the pilot program. Additionally, this bill would allow any other county that approves a ballot measure to opt in to the pilot program after June 30, 2022. The bill would also require ODFW to provide a report no later than September 15, 2024, analyzing the efficacy of the pilot program.
While Oregon does allow hunting with hounds in a limited capacity for some non-game species, hound hunting for mountain lions and black bears - a common practice permitted in many states - is strictly illegal in Oregon via the passage of an anti-hunting ballot initiative in November 1994.
As the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation has noted, hunting with dogs is a deep-seeded component of hunting for wild game, including mountain lions and bears. Banning hunting with dogs can severely limit hunters’ success afield for many species.
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