Oregon: Sportsmen’s Caucus, Fish and Wildlife Department Discuss Anti-Poaching Campaign

By Zach Widner, Northwest States Senior Manager

On April 30, Oregon Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus Co-Chair Representative Brad Witt and Caucus Coordinator Andrew Mittendorf met with staff from the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) to discuss legislative proposals that would help create a public outreach and awareness campaign to combat poaching in Oregon.

As part of the passage of HB 5010 – ODFW’s 2017 appropriations bill – ODFW was directed to develop proposals for an anti-poaching public awareness campaign. Components of the proposal included: “An anti-poaching public awareness campaign strategy, identification of tools needed to combat poaching, and any statute changes needed to address poaching.”

During the February 2018 legislative session, ODFW provided an update on the proposal’s development to the Ways and Means Subcommittee on Natural Resources. Rep. Witt discussed with ODFW staff various funding levels associated with the proposed campaign, as well as strategies for increasing detection of poaching and strengthening efforts to deter poaching. The Caucus will continue to work with ODFW to help ensure the creation of a campaign that can effectively help deter poaching in Oregon.

Additionally, the Boone and Crockett Club recently noted in their two-year analysis of state poaching laws and penalties that while fines, penalties, restitution, and the like, are effective and appropriate punishments for poachers, their effectiveness is sometimes undermined by the fact that district attorneys and judges are not always aware of the conservation and economic value of wildlife, as well as the intrinsic value of wildlife to a state’s citizens. Thus, there is a greater need to educate legal system officials about poaching damages (both economically and from a conservation perspective).

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A key component of the American System of Conservation Funding, the Pittman- Robertson Act directs excise taxes on firearms, ammo, and archery equipment to wildlife conservation. Since its inception in 1937 the Act has generated more than $12 billion towards conservation. However, there has been a loss of 5 million hunters in the past decade. One proposed solution to help fund conservation is to dedicate lottery proceeds for conservation purposes. Would you support this effort in your state?

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