SALEM, Ore. — Oregon’s Fish and Wildlife Commission will host its first in-person meeting since the pandemic began in March 2020 in Astoria on Thursday and Friday, April 21-22.
Find the full agenda at https://www.dfw.state.or.us/agency/commission/minutes/22/04_Apr/index.asp.
Thursday’s agenda is a tour of local fish, wildlife and habitat projects. To join, be at the Best Western Astoria Bayfront Hotel, 555 Hamburg Ave by 7:50 a.m. The tour departs just after 8 a.m. Members of the public must provide their own transportation and lunch during the tour.
Friday’s meeting starts at 8 a.m. at The Loft at the Red Building, 20 Basin Street. The meeting will be livestreamed (view it on the agenda page or on YouTube) and testimony will be allowed either via Zoom or in-person.
Register to testify via Zoom no later than 8 a.m. Wednesday, April 20 (48 hours in advance of meeting) at this link https://www.zoomgov.com/webinar/register/WN_OjU8KUwMQJGgMyVe93emLg.
For in-person testimony, register via the Witness Registration form available at the meeting on Friday morning.
A public forum for people to comment on topics not on the agenda is scheduled for Friday morning after the Director’s report. To participate in the public forum, contact the ODFW Director’s office at (503) 947-6044 or email ODFW.Commission@odfw.oregon.gov by Wednesday, April 20 at 8 a.m. (48 hours prior to the meeting).
Comments can also be emailed to ODFW.Commission@odfw.oregon.gov.
Friday’s meeting agenda includes informational briefings on the 2021 Annual Wolf Report (including a wolf population update) and other topics during the Director’s Report, to be followed by these decision-making items:
Amend Burns Paiute Tribe Ceremonial Harvest Permit Hunt Area
The Commission will be asked to allow limited hunting for mule deer in the Buena Vista Unit of Malheur National Wildlife Refuge (MNWR) and include the Buena Vista Unit in the hunt area for Burns Paiute Tribe ceremonial harvest permit for mule deer hunting.
Adopt 2022-23 Game Bird Regulations, modify wildlife area plan language:
The Commission will consider staff proposed changes from last year’s regulations including:
Fall turkey: Increase the daily bag limit for the General Western Oregon Fall Turkey Season to two turkeys per day. The season limit of two turkeys of either sex would not change, but this proposal would allow hunters to fill both tags on the same day.
Northwest Permit Goose season: Reduce Canada/cackling goose bag limit from four to three per day. Dusky Canada geese would remain closed to harvest.
Fern Ridge Wildlife Area: Open the southern portion of the South Coyote Unit to public use, including hunting, and incorporate the area into the Wildlife Area Reservation Hunt Program.
Wildlife areas: Modify rule language for several wildlife areas to make it consistent across all department lands and reflect the recent 10-year review of management plans.
Set commercial and recreational halibut seasons
The International Pacific Halibut Commission set this year’s fishery catch limit slightly lower than last year. For a look at the proposed recreational season that will be considered by the Fish and Wildlife Commission visit https://www.dfw.state.or.us/MRP/finfish/halibut/seasonmaps/2022_hbt_map.pdf.
Set ocean salmon seasons
Adopt 2022 ocean salmon seasons based on NMFS regulations
The Pacific Fishery Management Council (PFMC) recently adopted ocean salmon fishing regulations for federal-jurisdiction waters from three to 200 miles offshore. The Commission will be asked to adopt matching permanent regulations for state jurisdiction waters (within three miles offshore). The primary limiting Chinook stocks considered in crafting 2022 ocean fisheries off Oregon were Columbia River natural tule and California Coastal Chinook. Other Chinook stocks of concern include Sacramento River Fall Chinook which have slightly improved, and Klamath River Fall Chinook whose abundance continues to be low. The ocean abundance forecast for Columbia River coho salmon is high at 997,200 fish, which would be slightly higher than last year’s actual return.
Proposed season dates and bag limits are available on the Pacific Fisheries Management Council’s website https://www.pcouncil.org/documents/2022/04/d-6-a-supplemental-stt-report-1-preliminary-analysis-of-tentative-2022-ocean-salmon-fishery-management-measures-04-12-2022.pdf/.
North Umpqua hatchery summer steelhead
The Commission will be asked to determine if the North Umpqua summer steelhead hatchery production should continue, be modified, or be eliminated effective April 2022. ODFW’s recent status assessment determined that the primary cause of recent low wild steelhead runs in the North Umpqua was poor ocean conditions leading to low ocean survival. Secondarily, poor freshwater conditions likely impacted survival of both out-migrating juveniles and returning adults. The assessment did not identify hatchery origin adult summer steelhead as a limiting factor to wild populations, although there are more hatchery fish on natural spawning grounds than the management threshold allows. The Commission will be asked to modify the hatchery program with a reduction in annual smolt releases from a recent average of 70,000 to 30,000 in an abundance of caution for the wild fish population.
The Commission may also meet in executive session (held pursuant to ORS 192.660 (2)(f)) to consider information or records that are exempt by law from public inspection, as well as to consult with legal counsel concerning legal rights and duties regarding current litigation likely to be filed as authorized by ORS 192.660 (2)(h). Representatives of the news media may attend the executive session by contacting the Director’s Office prior to the meeting. Representatives of the news media are specifically directed not to report on any of the deliberations during the executive session, except to state the general subject of the session.