Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife's Official Statement
"Wildlife management units in the Blue Mountains will move to controlled archery elk hunting beginning in 2022 seasons, a change needed to help wildlife managers meet elk plan objectives in areas with low bull ratios and a high percentage of branch antlered bull harvest occurring within the general archery season. Commission also directed ODFW staff to develop a proposal for a controlled youth elk archery tag so youth can hunt in newly adopted controlled hunts and general season hunts, to promote youth hunting opportunity and hunter recruitment. This proposal would come before the Commission next year to be in effect beginning in 2023 seasons."
Read more here.
Oregon BHA’s Response
At the Aug. 6 ODFW Commissioners meeting, after months of deep engagement with fellow sports groups and ODFW staff, the Oregon Chapter of Backcountry Hunters & Anglers testified in support of the final proposal presented by staff, most notably the continuation of a statewide general archery season and the creation of the Eagle Cap Zone. We also encouraged the commission to review concepts aimed at increasing youth archery opportunities and participation.
Oregon BHA fully recognized and understood that this archery elk review process had a very limited and focused scope. In our testimony, we made it very clear to the commissioners that our chapter, and its members, expect the commission to direct staff to continue working closely with the sports groups of this state, to holistically identify and address the challenges and opportunities before us in managing game populations today and into the future.
Simply put, change is never easy. The multitude of reactions to this new system is proof of this fact. Our membership is diverse, both by preferred weapon type and by opinion on what an “ideal” hunting experience means. Even with such a diverse group of sportsmen and women, one value continues to bind members and supporters of BHA together. A love for, and admiration of, backcountry hunting and angling and a commitment to the stewardship of the ecologies that make those opportunities possible. These shared values will always be our top priority for Oregon BHA, and not surprisingly, was the driving force in our efforts here. As engaged sportsmen and women, we must all realize that these archery elk changes are only a single piece of the highly complicated wildlife management puzzle, and there is much more to be done to improve conditions for elk and elk hunters in Oregon.
Oregon BHA expressed to the commissioners that we expect the commission, ODFW staff, state and federal land management agencies and most importantly the hunters of this state, be committed to actively engage with the same level of passion that we have seen during this archery elk process to address those other pieces of the wildlife management puzzle.
These pieces include, but are not limited to:
- Forest & travel management plans dealing with road densities & illegal OHV and motorized use
- Habitat quality and enhancement
- Rangeland health standards
- Predator management
- Private land and depredation tags
- Wildlife corridors and crossings
There is no denying the fact that archery hunters do have an impact on our elk populations, but the cumulative effect of these other issues are far more reaching and consequential than the hunters hitting the woods on August 28th. We must all stay engaged and ensure that these archery elk changes are not implemented in a vacuum. Now, more than ever before, is the time to get involved and advocate for policies that will enhance our wild game resources, increase access to wild places and expand hunting opportunities. The Oregon Chapter of Backcountry Hunters & Anglers will continue to be at that table.
Photo credit: Kristian Mesce