2003 Big Game Regulations Adopted

SANDY - Rules and dates governing hunting seasons starting in 2003 received approval Friday, Oct. 11. The new rules do not markedly differ from rules used in 2002.

The following changes were made:

Increased the allowed annual hunter harvest of cougars by 102 animals to a total of 510 cougars statewide. The increase was allowed because of the healthy population of cougars in Oregon.

Maintained the existing general season framework with the exception that many seasons are moving one week later to accommodate having the buck deer season open the closest Saturday to Oct. 1.

Added one new muzzleloader hunt, one new youth hunt and made three minor boundary changes for pronghorn antelope seasons.

Added a second hunt period to four existing California bighorn hunts, removed the Sheepshead Mountains from both the Steens Mountain hunt areas to create two separate bighorn hunts, added 10 new California bighorn hunts, and added two new Rocky Mountain bighorn hunts.

Reauthorized the distribution of a bighorn raffle tag and an auction tag for fund raising.

Altered the spring bear controlled hunt rules to mirror those used with deer and elk. The number of bear tags authorized will be increased by 8 percent to account for tags that are drawn in the lottery, but not sold. In addition, if fewer hunters apply for spring bear tags than those authorized, the "leftover" tags will be sold on a first-come, first-served basis on March 15.

Deleted several antlerless deer hunts and made other minor changes to improve hunter distribution.

Changed the elk bag limit to any elk in the Bully Creek hunt and replaced the West Cascades muzzleloader hunt with a Southwest Cascade and a North Cascade hunt to better distribute elk hunters.

Deleted 12 antlerless elk hunts and added 25 new antlerless elk hunts to better respond to agricultural damage situations.

Created a new travel management area for the Stott Mountain-North Alsea area.

Changed the rules for permanent disability permit holders who hunt pronghorn. The new rules are similar to the deer season and expand the bag limit to one pronghorn.

The Commission's approval allows the printing the 2003 Oregon Big Game Hunting Regulations pamphlet to move forward. The printed pamphlets are expected to be delivered to license agents in mid-December.

Sturgeon season reopens Nov. 23

PORTLAND - Officials from the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife announced that the Columbia River below the Bonneville Dam reopened to the retention of legal-sized sturgeon on Saturday, Nov. 23.

Elsewhere on the Columbia River, the Bonneville Poll is open to sturgeon retention and will remain open for the rest of the year.

The Dalles Pool and the John Day Pool are closed.

The Blue Mountain cougar quota hunt zone closed to cougar hunting on Nov. 15 because the 2002 quota has been filled.

Cougar hunting remains open in the remaining five cougar hunt zones.

The snipe season closed statewide Nov. 22 and will reopen Dec. 28.

Blue and ruffed grouse seasons closed in most of Eastern Oregon on Nov. 24, but remain open through Jan. 5, 2003, in the rest of the state.

Eastern Oregon hunters have until Saturday, Nov. 30, to fill an unused general season black bear tag.

In western Oregon, hunters may hunt black bear with a general season tag through Dec. 31.

The ODFW encourages all hunters to wear blaze orange when in the woods. Wear an orange vest and drape an orange cloth or marking tape over any harvested animal. People see it, animals don't.

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