Oregon: Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus Co-Chairs Advocate to the Governor to Maintain Hunting and Fishing Opportunities

Contact: Aoibheann Cline, Western States Coordinator

On Friday, April 8, Co-Chairs of the bipartisan Oregon Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus – Representative Brad Witt and Representative Sherrie Sprenger – submitted a letter to Governor Kate Brown requesting that she retain, to the greatest extent possible, opportunities for Oregonians to responsibly enjoy the outdoors in response to COVID-19, because hunting, fishing, recreational shooting, and being outside allow people to better cope with the emergency restrictions and provide healthy mental and physical outlets.

In the letter, the Co-Chairs advocated that the governor keep hunting seasons open as scheduled, especially for spring turkey. The letter also requested that fishing tackle retailers and manufacturers be considered essential businesses ensuring people have access to necessary equipment to participate. The Caucus Co-Chairs also pointed to recreational shooters as the financial backbone of the American System of Conservation Funding and encouraged Governor Brown to allow public shooting facilities owned and/or operated by the state to stay open for business during this time.

The letter states, “During particularly stressful times, many sportsmen and women turn to some of America’s most time-honored traditions as an avenue of maintaining mental and physical health. We hope you will consider taking steps to promote hunting, fishing, and recreational shooting, by encouraging these constituents to enjoy the outdoors in a safe and healthy manner consistent with the safe distancing guideline put forth by your Emergency Orders.”

On April 9, the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) closed recreational hunting, fishing, crabbing and clamming to non-residents due to concerns about travel to Oregon to participate in these outdoor activities, stating that travel could spread the virus and put more of a burden on Oregon’s rural communities.

“Rural communities are concerned about the potential impact of COVID-19 on medical and emergency services, search and rescue and their citizens. Some have asked us to close seasons to reduce travel,” said ODFW Director Curt Melcher. “We would like to keep seasons open to give locals an outlet during this difficult time, but that doesn’t mean it’s OK to travel to those communities. Stick close to home and fish at your local lake, pond or river and do not go crabbing or clamming unless you live on the coast, and then only to places where access is still open.”

The Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) commends the strong work of the Oregon Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus Co-Chairs on this issue, as well as their proven track record of advocating for continued access and opportunities for Oregon’s sportsmen and women. CSF will continue working with the Oregon Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus to encourage ODFW and Governor Brown to actively work together to maintain recreational fishing and hunting opportunities and promote responsible recreation for Oregon’s sportsmen and women during these challenging times.

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Recently, Virginia has proposed legislation that would make the punishment for poaching, in their state, a 1-5 year prison sentence through HB-449. Poaching undermines the social acceptance of hunters, jobs, recreation, local and state economies, and conservation efforts. How should poachers be punished?

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