SALEM – Hunters who fail to report deer and elk hunt results by the deadline will face a $25 fine, according to a rule adopted last week by the state Fish and Wildlife Commission.
Hunters who fail to report their 2012 deer and elk tags by the deadline – Jan. 31, 2013 for most tags – will have to pay the one-time $25 fee to purchase a 2014 hunting license. Those licenses go on sale Dec. 1, 2013.
The Oregon Legislature gave ODFW the ability to charge a penalty fee of up to $25 last year. ODFW staff had proposed a $10 penalty fee. Commissioners voted to set the fee at $25 as they felt hunters who were not reporting would be more likely to take notice of the requirement with a higher fee. Some hunters also testified in favor of the higher fee.
Hunters can report online or by calling 1-866-947-6339. The automated system used for hunters that report by phone will soon be replaced by customer service representatives who can take hunt results over the phone, which should make things easier for any hunters that had trouble with the automated system.
Reporting hunt results for all deer, elk, pronghorn antelope, cougar, bear and turkey tags purchased – even when tags go unfilled or the buyer never went hunting – has been mandatory for several years. ODFW needs the information to determine harvest and effort levels, estimate populations and set tag numbers. Last year, the fourth year of “mandatory reporting” with no penalty, results were reported on only 41 percent of tags purchased.
Deer and elk tags are some of the most under-reported, and information from these hunts is critical for setting tag numbers and seasons. Despite heavy promotion of the requirement and incentives for reporting, the reporting rate still isn’t high enough for ODFW to use the data. Another problem is that hunters who are successful are more likely to report than those that didn’t fill their tag, which skews harvest numbers.
ODFW has continued to survey hunters through phone calls to get harvest data, but needs to phase out the expense of the calls. Many hunters are hard to reach by phone, with more relying on cell phones and fewer providing those numbers with their license.Read more on bluemountaineagle.com.