OHA Asks ODFW For More Effort On Blacktail Plan


Concerned with slow progress being made in implementing the Oregon Black-tailed Deer Management Plan, the Oregon Hunters Association has presented the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife with a critique of the plan’s weak points, provisions that have not been adequately carried out and suggestions for improvement, urging the agency to move more aggressively in addressing the issues that threaten Oregon’s black-tailed deer population.

The Oregon Black-tailed Deer Management Plan was developed to provide a framework of objectives and strategies to stem the continuing decline of black-tailed deer. The Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission adopted the plan in November 2008. Since the late 1980s, black-tailed deer numbers in Oregon have been steadily dropping due to a variety of causes including changes in habitat, diseases, predation and other factors.


OHA’s concerns were expressed in a letter to ODFW Director Roy Elicker from OHA President Fred Craig.

“The Oregon Hunters Association is very concerned about the decline in black-tailed deer throughout western Oregon, and major declines in areas of the north coast, and Josephine and Jackson counties are particularly troubling,” said Craig. “Strategies set forth in the Black-tailed Deer Management Plan are critical to recovering and maintaining a viable, huntable population of black-tailed deer in Oregon.”

OHA identifies a decline in quality and quantity of habitat as the most prevalent factor in the population decrease and focuses on several habitat-related strategies in the plan that needs to be improved or pursued more aggressively.

These include additional meadow habitat development in forest areas, reduction in the use of herbicides that destroy forage species valuable to black-tailed deer, development of baseline data that shows the current condition of black-tailed deer habitat, identifying species of plants that provide the best forage for deer, developing methods to increase the number and duration of early forest seral stage growth, and inventorying areas burned by wildfire, which often produces high-quality habitat along its edges.

OHA also wants to ensure that ODFW field biologists are working closely with federal, state and private land managers so that habitat and forage needs of black-tailed deer are incorporated into forest management plans and actions.

Other areas of concern are the impacts of predation, especially by black bears, along with poaching, which OHA believes is a serious problem and requires more law enforcement attention, including during periods outside deer season. In addition, OHA wants to see increased harvest reporting by hunters that includes sufficient penalties for non-compliance. Better harvest data will help ODFW more accurately determine the overall condition of black-tailed deer herds.

“After two years we believe little progress has been made in implementing the black-tailed deer management plan,” said Craig. “OHA is asking ODFW to put a lot more effort and resources into the strategies and achieving the objectives of the plan.”

OHA is the state’s largest pro-hunting organization, with more than 10,000 members and 27 chapters statewide. —Jim Yuskavitch


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