JOHN DAY – Population counts for game wildlife and tag numbers in the county and state will be discussed at the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife’s big game tag setting meeting next Tuesday, May 6.
The meeting will be from 5:30 to 7 p.m. at the Oregon Department of Forestry conference room, 415 Patterson Bridge Rd.
Hunting tags will be similar to last year’s offerings, with a few changes.
For the first time, hunters can apply for a Rocky Mountain goat tag for Strawberry Mountain this season. Only one tag will be available.
The tag comes after a survey last year recorded more than 50 goats in the Strawberry Mountain Wilderness, with officials finding the herd relatively established.
Meanwhile, three hunts will see reductions.
“Generally, the deer did very well,” said ODFW district biologist Ryan Torland. “We had good fall green-up, and a relatively mild winter. They came out of winter with good fawn recruitment.”
Torland said the elk populations are doing well throughout the county, except for “a little bit lower calf recruitment this year than we would have expected.”
The total numbers of elk are still “pretty high,” he said.
In an effort to boost population numbers of buck deer on the Northside and Desolation units, the agency is reducing tags from 1,300 to 1,200 on each of the units this season.
Desolation also had a 100-tag reduction last year.
Torland said counts for buck deer in the two units were down for the second year in a row and had a slightly lower fawn recruitment, which resulted in the tag reduction.
Tags for the East Grant Unit antlerless elk hunt also will drop, to 200 from 250.
The bighorn sheep population is increasing, especially at Aldrich, he said, adding numbers at the McClellan unit are stable. One tag is available for McClellan for one season only, and two tags for Aldrich for each of the two seasons. The Murderers Unit tag is no longer available.
Wildlife numbers are based on counts done twice a year.
Torland gave an example of how counts are done for buck deer.
“We fly the whole winter range in late November to early December and look at bucks per 100 does – fawns in the fall as well,” he said. “We have to count in fall because they start shedding (antlers). We count a second time in the spring.”
Those counts, harvest numbers, ratios of young, and cougar predation are factored into population estimates and tag availability.
The public is encouraged to attend the May 6 meeting to learn about the plans and ask questions.
“It’s a chance for people to comment on proposed tag numbers,” Torland said.
For more information, Torland can be reached at 541-575-1167.