Fish & Wildlife Commission to Meet Later This Month

Guest Submission

SALEM, Ore.–The Fish and Wildlife Commission, created by the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) will meet Friday, Nov. 14 in Salem to consider disease-testing requirements for elk ranches and a management plan for black-tailed deer.

The Commission will be asked to adopt a Cervid Disease Surveillance List (CDSL) developed by ODFW and the Oregon Dept. of Agriculture that will require the state’s elk ranches to test for Chronic Wasting Disease, Bovine Tuberculosis, and brucellosis.

All are highly infectious diseases that could be devastating to both wild and captive deer and elk and Oregon’s growing moose population. Bovine TB and brucellosis could also be very harmful to cattle and Oregon’s livestock industry.

Elk ranchers were already doing some disease-testing but the new rule will formalize testing requirements and hasten the reporting time to ODFW. This will increase communication between elk ranchers and ODFW and allow for an effective response in the event of a disease detection.

The new requirements are part of the elk ranching rule package adopted by the Commission earlier this year. If adopted, the CDSL rule will take effect on Jan. 1, 2009.

The Commission will be asked to adopt Oregon’s first-ever Black-Tailed Deer Management Plan. These deer are found west of the crest of the Cascades and are generally smaller and darker than the mule deer found on Oregon’s eastside. Black-tailed deer are one of the most popular big game animals to hunt in Oregon—last year more than 72,000 people pursued them during the general rifle season.

Black-tailed deer are secretive and tend to live in dense forests, making them difficult to survey. ODFW currently uses hunter harvest, wildlife damage reports, plus many years of survey data to manage the black-tail population in Oregon.

The plan will build upon this work while outlining ways to improve data and increase understanding of black-tail habitat needs among landowners and public land managers. As with other species, hunter cooperation and reporting will play a key role in black-tailed deer management.

The Commission will be asked to review and provide direction on the content of the Mid-Columbia Steelhead Conservation and Recovery Plan. The plan is a roadmap for the conservation and recovery of steelhead populations in the Fifteen mile, Deschutes, John Day, and Umatilla and Walla Walla subbasins in Oregon.

Recovery plans are a federal requirement for all species listed under the Endangered Species Act. Steelhead in the mid-Columbia River were listed as threatened in 1999. The Oregon Mid-Columbia Steelhead Conservation and Recovery Plan serves a dual purpose as both a component of the federal ESA recovery plan and as a complete state conservation plan.

The Commission is the policy-making body for fish and wildlife issues in the state. The seven-member panel meets monthly.

For more information please contact the ODFW Director’s Office at 800-720-6339 or 503-947-6044.

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