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Oregon sage-grouse hunt applications due by Aug. 19

SALEM, Ore. — Sage-grouse hunters are reminded they need to apply for a permit by Aug. 19 to hunt the fall season.

Permits available for the 2019 season are reduced to 645 from last year’s allocation of 740. These reductions will only affect three units in southeast Oregon. Permits will be offered in the Trout Creek Mountains for the first time since the 2012 Holloway Fire due to improved habitat conditions and the conclusion of research on the response of sage-grouse to large-scale fire.See the table of permits available at http://www.eregulations.com/oregon/game-bird/game-bird-seasons/ (scroll down to 2019 controlled sage-grouse season and see the 2019 permits column).

Apply online or at a license sales agent. To apply online, login to the ODFW online licensing system, go to Purchase from the Catalog / Bird Hunting and select Sage Grouse – Controlled Hunt Application. Proceed to checkout to make your hunt choices and purchase the application.

Overall, it appears Oregon’s fall sage-grouse population will be down for 2019 but next year’s surveys will reveal the extent of the decline. ODFW biologists and volunteers survey sage-grouse leks (breeding grounds) to count the number of males that visit each year and low numbers were observed this spring. Prolonged winter conditions in early 2019 may have resulted in males attending leks later than usual or not at all due to the harsh conditions.

“Due to last year’s extended winter, the true extent of any sage-grouse decline may not be apparent until 2020, when lek counts are conducted again,” said Lee Foster, ODFW sage-grouse coordinator. “But based on what we saw this year, we are taking precautions and reducing the number of permits available.”

“The upside of the late winter snowpack is that habitat conditions look excellent across sage-grouse range. We expect exceptional brood rearing conditions on the ground,” said Mikal Cline, ODFW upland game bird coordinator.

ODFW carefully regulates the controlled sage-grouse season to keep harvest at less than 5 percent of the population, within the normal mortality rate of the birds. Hunters are an important source of population data about sage-grouse. By examining the wings of sage-grouse returned by successful hunters, ODFW is able to determine the age structure and sex ratio of the population.