OR: 83% of Oregon's hunters do not follow regulations
September 26, 2009
Last year, when mandatory reporting requirements kicked in for most
big-game hunters in Oregon, about one in six complied.
Rob Alfonso, a hunter who also works at Keith's Sporting Goods in
Gresham, wasn't at all shocked that 83 percent of hunters didn't participate
in a program designed to help the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife
better manage game animals -- and perhaps increase hunting opportunities
when data supports it.
"It's just a matter of getting used to the system. There's nothing
sinister," Alfonso said about the low turnout. "I got a tag last year.
Honestly, I didn't report it."
Michelle Dennehy, an ODFW spokeswoman, also isn't surprised that
compliance got off to a slow start, because the new rule has neither carrot
nor stick to encourage hunters to report. In other words, the rules have
been "mandatory" largely in name only.
That is about to change. Next year, ODFW hopes to add an incentive for
hunters to report results of hunts for deer, elk, antelope, bear, cougar and
turkey. Their reward could be freedom to buy one of three special tags with
a longer season and wider hunting area for the hunter's choice of deer, elk
Then ODFW wants to start swinging a stick in 2011. Hunters who don't
report their hunts from that year could be barred from buying a tag the next
season. And then in 2012, those who still aren't reporting might face a fee
to get themselves back into the system to obtain hunting tags.
These proposed penalties and incentives will go to the Oregon Fish and
Wildlife Commission for possible adoption with other big-game regulations
Oct. 2, and any fees imposed also would require approval from the Oregon
Legislature, Dennehy said.
Although a handful of hunters communicated off the record their beliefs
that the new requirements are a hassle and possibly wasteful, it appears
many who failed to report simply didn't understand or remember the
requirement. In fact, most respondents to an informal poll for this story
conducted on ifish.net supported mandatory reporting, and several noted that
the task took them a few minutes.
Bill Littlefield, who represents central Oregon for the Oregon Hunters
Association's board of directors, has heard some grumbling about the new
rules, including from those hunters who didn't want to reveal where they
bagged their animals. But he believes the only way to truly manage the
resource is to start with good data.
"I don't think we can expect them to do a good job if we don't give them
the tools to do that job," Littlefield said. "It's really hard -- and may be
impossible -- to do that if you don't have good information."
Dennehy and others said mandatory reporting already is in effect across
much of the West, and typically compliance was low in other states until
penalties began. She expects the same pattern in Oregon, where starting a
mandatory reporting rule was delayed until after a new license sales system
went into effect last year so they could be integrated.
ODFW's follow-up telephone surveys showed that hunters who bagged an
animal last year were more likely to report than those who came home
empty-handed or decided not to hunt at all.
"It's as important for us to know who didn't get an animal as those who
did," Dennehy said. "The more accurate information we get, we're hopeful the
more we can maximize hunting opportunity."
Littlefield also said providing hunting opportunities is a source of
revenue for the department, so he doubts data would be used to curtail
harvests, except where necessary.
As a side benefit, Dennehy said, reports also may influence legislators
and other decision-makers because the information supports data showing the
boost hunters give to local economies.
Making it simple
Dennehy said ODFW is working to make mandatory reporting easier, with two
instructions and a worksheet printed in regulations booklets and a new My
Hunter Information link from the agency's hunting pages, where hunters can
easily report their information and track their status.
The department also will ask its commission to set a Jan. 31 deadline for
reporting all late-summer and fall hunts in one session. However, hunts
scheduled early in the calendar year would have separate deadlines following
Return to Hunting Accident Index
Fair Use Notice: This document may contain copyrighted material
whose use has not been specifically authorized by the copyright owners. We believe
that this not-for-profit, educational use on the Web constitutes
a fair use of the copyrighted material (as provided for in section
107 of the US Copyright Law). If you wish to use this copyrighted
material for purposes of your own that go beyond fair use, you must
obtain permission from the copyright owner.