Anglers and hunters from outside Oregon will be unable to hunt or fish under an order from the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife that goes into effect Friday night.
The ODFW said in a press release on Thursday the organization will not allow hunting or fishing from out-of-state residents beginning at 11:59 p.m. Friday. Michelle Dennehy, an ODFW spokeswoman, said the move came in response to multiple calls and concerns from people living in rural areas. She said they were worried about people visiting and “placing additional burdens on these communities’ limited resources.”
It’s the latest change in what seems to be ever-changing hunting and fishing regulations not only in Oregon, but nationwide. The state recently closed all fish hatcheries, closed public access to its local offices and closed fish-cleaning stations managed by the ODFW, among other things.
“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,” ODFW Director Curt Melcher said in the release.
Meghan Dugan, a spokeswoman for Roseburg’s ODFW branch, said phone calls about Douglas County’s hunting and fishing opportunities haven’t changed much since the “Stay Home, Save Lives” order from Gov. Kate Brown in March in response to the coronavirus pandemic. Her office, however, along with other ODFW staffers across Oregon, had officials monitoring local hunting and fishing locations to ensure people complied with social distancing guidelines. Melcher warned the ODFW could modify its hunting and fishing seasons.
Timothy Fox, a public information officer with the Oregon State Police, said out-of-state anglers and hunters could be charged with a Class C misdemeanor if found in violation of the governor’s order. Under Oregon law, the violation is punishable by up to 30 days in jail, up to a $1,250 fine, or both.
“We are attempting to educate and ask for people to comply voluntarily,” he said in an email. “Enforcement would be the last option.”
Dennehy said many complaints came from coastal communities who raised concerns about Oregon residents, or non-residents, coming there. She said many of those coastal residents complained about people traveling to the coast from the Willamette Valley, Salem and Portland areas and that the potential spread of COVID-19 could put a drain on the area’s emergency resources.
The influx has also been, in part, from the closure of hunting and fishing in neighboring states. Washington state, which closed hunting and fishing statewide until at least May 4, reported 9,047 COVID-19 infections and 421 deaths on Thursday. California, which has weighed closing certain fishing seasons, had 19,111 cases and 503 deaths as of Thursday. Oregon, meanwhile, had 1,321 cases and 44 deaths.
ODFW said it will refund non-resident spring bear and spring turkey tags and reinstate preference points for spring bear hunters.
Refunds can be arranged by emailing email@example.com, or by calling 503-947-6101.