September 18, 2014

Oregon House Committee Holds Hearing on Sportsmen’s Issues

On Tuesday, September 16, the Oregon House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee held a hearing to discuss numerous topics of interest to sportsmen, including lead ammunition, predator management, hatcheries, forest health, and increases to hunting and fishing license fees.

Officials from the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) testified on the agency’s recent lead ammunition survey was distributed to 4,200 licensed hunters around the state. ODFW Director Roy Elicker stated during the hearing that the lead ammunition survey came about due to the potential for California Condors, an endangered species, to migrate from Northern California into Oregon. Elicker noted that there are no proposals by ODFW or the ODFW Commission to ban lead ammunition in Oregon and that the Department sees no reason to ban lead ammunition. However, he did indicate that ODFW would pursue a voluntary non-lead ammunition program (similar to those implemented in Arizona and Utah) should the threat of lawsuit (similar to those previously put forward by groups like the Center for Biological Diversity) arise in Oregon.

Testimony from several sportsmen’s representatives indicated concerns over any potential restrictions on lead ammunition (though no such proposals are currently on the table in Oregon), including a lack of demonstrated population-level impacts to wildlife from spent lead ammunition in the environment, the price and availability of non-lead alternatives, and the need for further analysis of other factors that contribute to condor mortality. Sportsmen’s representatives noted that it is critical for sound, unbiased science to be used in these analyses.

Oregon’s sportsmen’s community was well represented at the September 16 hearings. Officers from the Oregon Outdoor Council, Oregon Hunter’s Association, Oregon Foundation for North American Wild Sheep, and National Rifle Association all testified to the need for Oregon’s legislators and fish and wildlife managers to ensure that the interests of Oregon’s hunters and anglers are represented in legislative and regulatory matters that affect the state’s fish and wildlife resources.

“Given the critical importance of the issues discussed at today’s committee hearing, including lead ammunition and hunting and fishing license fee increases, I was very pleased to see such a strong contingent of Oregon’s sportsmen and women present in the Capitol. The strong representation from the sportsmen’s community, both from those in the audience and those who testified, demonstrates the commitment that Oregon’s sportsmen and women have to ensuring sound management of our state’s fish and wildlife. Their knowledge and engagement on such a wide range of topics demonstrates why it is essential for legislators and agencies to work closely with sportsmen’s groups when developing policies that affect hunting and fishing,” said Representative Brad Witt, House Co-Chair of the Oregon Sportsmen’s Caucus and Chair of the House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee.

With regard to the discussion on lead ammunition, Representative Sal Esquivel, Oregon Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus Co-Chair, House Agriculture and Natural Resources Vice-Chair, and NASC Executive Council Member noted that, “It is abundantly clear from today’s hearing that more extensive research on the topic of condor mortality needs to be done, given the complex nature of this subject. A variety of other factors have been shown to factor into condor mortality and need to be studied at greater length. We need to ensure that the best possible science is utilized in conducting analysis of condor mortality before any sort of proposal or legislation is even considered on this issue.”

Click here to listen to Tuesday’s full committee hearing.

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?

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