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Better habitat, higher gas prices prompt shift in hunting seasons.

Byline: INSIDE THE OUTDOORS By Mike Stahlberg The Register-Guard

The air is full of bird-hunting news.

The Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission recently set 2008-09 regulations for hunting upland birds (pheasant, forest grouse, chukar, pheasant, California quail, mountain quail, sage grouse and turkey).

"The hunting outlook generally looks to be improved over last year because of increased moisture, which promoted better habitat conditions," said Dave Budeau, upland bird coordinator for the Department of Fish and Wildlife, in his report to the commission's August meeting.

Last year's upland bird production was down east of the Cascades because of drought conditions, Budeau said.

Most upland bird seasons operate under a five-year framework, so hunters won't see many changes this year.

For the 2009-10 season, however, season dates will be juggled so pheasant hunting in eastern Oregon begins the same weekend as chukar and quail hunting.

"Chukar and quail are some of the most popular game birds to hunt in Oregon, and pheasants are also a favorite," Budeau said. "We want to ease the burden of high fuel prices and make it possible for hunters to pursue all in the same trip."

One change that takes effect this year involves fall turkey hunting in northeast Oregon.

Two new hunts (Wallowa and Grande Ronde) and 200 additional tags (raising the total to 725) will be available in eastern Oregon.

"Turkey populations have increased in recent years in the Blue Mountains and other areas of northeast Oregon," Budeau said. "It's a great place to hunt turkeys, because many can be found on public land."

On the west side of the Cascades, a limited general fall turkey season will run Oct. 15-Dec. 31, with a season limit of one turkey of either sex. A total of 3,000 tags will be issued on a first-come, first-served basis.

Sage grouse hunters will again have a total of 1,175 permits available for a Sept. 6-14 season. The application deadline is Aug. 25, with a bag limit of two birds.

"Oregon's sage grouse season is very conservative," said Budeau. "We design it with the self-imposed limit of no more than 5 percent of expected fall population harvested."

For pheasant, the commission approved western Oregon fee pheasant hunts at the following wildlife areas: Fern Ridge, Sept. 8-Oct. 5; E.E. Wilson Oct. 1-31; Denman, Sept. 29-Oct. 17, and Sauvie Island, Sept. 15-28.

Also, 14 youth pheasant hunts were set at 13 locations during one of four weekends in September. A "Becoming an Outdoors-Woman" program pheasant hunt will be held Sept. 20-21 at Denman Wildlife Area in White City.

Additional details will be in the 2008-09 Oregon Game Bird Regulations booklet, scheduled to be available at ODFW offices and most license retailers statewide by the end of this week. A downloadable version is already available at www.dfw.state.or.us/resources/hunting/upland_bird/docs/ODFWbird08_09final.pdf,

Meanwhile, for hunters of migratory birds (duck, goose, mourning dove, band-tailed pigeon, coot and snipe), several changes are in store during the upcoming season.

While the duck-hunting season will remain on the liberal end of the spectrum, with a 107-day season, waterfowlers will not be allowed to take any canvasback ducks this season. That conservation measure comes in response to drought conditions on key canvasback breeding grounds.

Also, the scaup bag limit will be reduced from three to two, and the scaup season length will be reduced to 86 days.

Duck hunters will have a daily bag limit of seven, with no more than one pintail, two scaup, two hen mallards and two redheads.

Goose hunters, on the other hand, will get more opportunities this season. The daily bag limit for white geese goes from four birds to six in most of the state. Hunters in the NW Oregon Permit Zone also will be able to hunt white geese during the third period.

Most zones will continue to see a 100-day goose season, with a daily bag limit of four dark geese and six white geese. Opening days are concurrent with duck openers in most areas.

Both Zone 1 and Zone 2 will open on Oct. 11. Season dates are Oct. 11-26 and Oct. 29-Jan. 25 in Zone 1, and Oct. 11-Nov. 30 and Dec. 3-Jan. 25 in Zone 2. The scaup season is Nov. 1-Jan. 25 in Zone 1, and Oct. 11-Nov. 30 and Dec. 3-Jan. 6 in Zone 2.

There's a tough new regulation in the NW Oregon Permit Zone: Hunters who fail to check out their geese will not only lose their hunting privileges for the remainder of this season but for the following season, too.

"Checking out geese is fundamental and critical to keeping this season open," said Brad Bales, ODFW Migratory Bird Program Coordinator. Goose hunting in the NW Permit Zone is closely regulated to protect the population of Dusky Canada geese.

One side note about geese: The commission adopted a rule allowing the destruction of resident Canada goose nests and eggs in areas where the birds are causing property damage or threatening public health or safety. Federal regulations adopted last year allow the states to implement such population-control measures.

Finally, the commission had been expected to consider adoption of a Black-Tailed Deer Management Plan at its August meeting. However, that agenda item was postponed until the Nov. 14 meeting in Salem. The public comment period on the deer plan will now remain open through Oct. 27.

Contact Mike Stahlberg at ms@registerguard.com.
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Title Annotation:Sports
Publication:The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)
Date:Aug 19, 2008
Words:908
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