By Zach Widner, Northwest States Senior Manager
On February 28, the Oregon State Senate voted unanimously to pass House Bill 4030, which would authorize courts to require wildlife law violators to pay a portion of, or all, fines incurred from the unlawful taking of wildlife, to the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW).
This bill, which is now headed to the desk of Governor Kate Brown for signature, has been strongly supported by the Oregon Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus during the 2018 short session. It also passed unanimously in the House of Representatives on February 21.
HB 4030 was introduced by the Oregon House Interim Committee on Agriculture and Natural Resources on behalf of Oregon Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus Member Representative Ken Helm.
In 2016, the Oregon Legislature passed HB 4046, which increased damages for the unlawful taking or killing of wildlife and “allowed the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission to file suit for the recovery of civil damages for the unlawful taking or killing of any of the listed wildlife.” However, a court decision in 2017 regarding two individuals found guilty of unlawfully possessing bighorn sheep stated that current law is not clear enough to allow courts to require restitution be paid to the ODFW for the illegal harvest of wildlife. HB 4030 cures the current technical issue, thus allowing the full intent of HB 4046 to be realized.
Oregon has taken a number steps to further address wildlife law violators during the past several legislative sessions. In addition to the passage of HB 4046 in 2016, HB 3158 and HB 2883 both passed the Legislature and were signed into law in 2017. HB 3158 requires the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission to implement a program to encourage the reporting of wildlife law violations. HB 2883 provides for the revocation of licenses, tags, and permits of a wildlife law violator if the violation occurred while the person was acting or offering to act as an outfitter or guide.
Studies conducted at both the state and federal level have found that the number of hunters and trappers have been on a generally declining trend over the past several decades. To increase recruitment, retention, and reactivation (R3) of hunters and trappers, which initiative do you think would have the greatest impact?