This Thursday, March 28, the Oregon Legislature will hold hearings on four bills that could cause rapid reduction of Oregon's elk herds through authorization of damage tags for landowners.
1) HB 3227 will be heard by the House Natural Resources Committee. The bill would establish an elk damage pilot program and issue limitless cow tags to landowners and others in seven counties. The tags could be given or sold to others and used at night with artificial light.
2) SB 301, SB 303 and SB 398 will be heard before the Senate Environment & Natural Resources Committee.
SB 301 would issue limitless cow tags to landowners and others anywhere in the state where elk are causing damage to private lands.
SB 303 would issue one cow tag per landowner and others anywhere in the state where elk are causing damage to private lands and also allow tags to be used on neighboring property with written permission.
SB 398 would allow elk damage tag holders to take elk of either sex or any age and allow tags to be sold.
None of these bills define what constitutes elk damage. All of them violate Oregon's Wildlife Policy and the North American Wildlife Conservation Model and impact the ability of the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife to manage elk according to biological objectives.
RMEF understands the frustration of many landowners who experience damage from elk to their crops, equipment and livelihoods. Yet these bills are the wrong way to address such problems. These bills treat the symptoms of elk herd distribution rather than its true causes--lack of suitable habitat on adjacent public lands and pressure from predators.
Please contact your state senator and representative immediately to let them know you're opposed to these bills.