The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife is closing recreational hunting, fishing, crabbing and clamming to non-residents due to concerns about travel to Oregon to participate in these outdoor activities. Such travel could spread the virus and put more of a burden on Oregon’s rural communities, according to a press release.
As of April 10, non-residents may no longer participate in these activities in Oregon. The restriction extends until COVID-19 restrictions are lifted and it is deemed safe to travel into Oregon. This order does not apply to anyone living in Oregon for less than six months who has not yet established residency.
Some states, including Washington, have closed hunting and fishing to limit the spread of the virus. While seasons remain open in Oregon (except for Columbia River salmon/steelhead fishing), resident hunters and anglers should not be traveling to participate. ODFW is hearing concerns from rural communities about people visiting to hunt and fish and placing additional burdens on these communities’ limited resources.
“Rural communities are concerned about the potential impact of COVID-19 on medical and emergency services, search and rescue and their citizens. Some have asked us to close seasons to reduce travel,” said ODFW Director Curt Melcher. “We would like to keep seasons open to give locals an outlet during this difficult time, but that doesn’t mean it’s OK to travel to these communities. Stick close to home and fish at your local lake, pond or river and do not go crabbing or clamming unless you live on the coast, and then only to places where access is still open.”
ODFW monitoring has shown that, while Oregonians are still participating in fisheries, clamming, shed hunting and wildlife viewing, it is in significantly lower numbers and that the majority of participants are doing it close to home and practicing social distancing. “We appreciate that many Oregonians are taking the Stay Home, Save Lives order seriously,” added Melcher.
ODFW field staff monitoring participation in the field have seen out of state license plates and out of state angling and shellfish licenses in use. Staff are also fielding numerous calls from non-residents inquiring about plans come to Oregon to hunt or fish.
“ODFW believes this action restricting non-residents will help local communities enforce the restrictions on out-of-state travelers violating the order, and putting local resources and residents at risk,” said Melcher. “We appreciate everyone’s understanding at this difficult time and look forward to seeing you outdoors again in the future when this passes.”
ODFW anticipates there will be opportunity for non-residents who have already purchased a 2020 license to participate in hunting, fishing or shellfish opportunities later in the year. ODFW will refund non-resident spring bear and spring turkey tags and reinstate preference points for spring bear hunters. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org or 503-947-6101 to arrange for a refund.
Non-residents interested in applying for a fall controlled hunt may still apply online at https://odfw.huntfishoregon.com/login and the deadline to apply remains May 15.
Oregon residents who do choose to hunt, fish, crab or clam are reminded to:
• Stay close to home rather than traveling far. The Governor’s Executive Order says hunting and fishing are OK, but to limit travel.
• Practice social distancing and stay 6 feet away from anyone who doesn’t live in the immediate household, including when outdoors.
• Check access as the area may be closed. State parks are closed, counties have closed some parks and boat ramps, beach access is closed in some areas and national forests and BLM lands have closed recreation sites.
• Stay home if sick.
• Carry needed supplies to minimize non-essential stops — including buying licenses and tags online instead of making a trip to a license sale agent if possible and bringing all needed food, water and sanitization supplies.