Comments Invited On Changes For Disabled Hunters.

ODFW is looking for input on potential changes for Oregon hunters with an Oregon Disabilities Hunting and Fishing Permit. The Commission will consider these changes at their Sept. 2 meeting in Welches.

Permits are given to people who provide written certification of a permanent disability from a medical professional and to veterans of the Armed Forces with at least a 65 percent service-connected disability rating. Permit holders get an expanded bag limit during certain hunting seasons (an antlerless deer or elk during buck and bull seasons in some wildlife management units). Hunters with a disabilities permit may also shoot from a parked vehicle and get assistance from an able-bodied companion when hunting (see page 99 of the Oregon Big Game Regulations for more information on special regulations). Disabled veterans also receive a free hunting, fishing and shellfish license.

The following recommended changes were developed by a review committee that met three times in March and April 2016. The committee included disabled hunters, sportsman group representatives, and staff from Oregon State Police and ODFW. For more detailed information on the recommendations, visit http://www.dfw.state.or.us/wildlife/management_plans/disabilities_permit_review.asp

The review committee’s recommendations are to:

Align the criteria for deciding which units have an expanded bag limit for disabled hunters with the criteria currently used for archery hunters. These criteria look at population MOs and calf and fawn ratios to determine which units can support antlerless harvest.
Provide some controlled antlerless hunts for hunters with disabilities in those units where some opportunity for antlerless animals is available, but not enough to offer to all disabled hunters. (The earliest these controlled hunts would be available is 2018.)
Test the possibility of allowing wheel-chair bound disabled hunters to use a single passenger, electric-powered vehicle in Travel Management Areas with motorized travel restrictions. (This recommendation will require further legal review of state and federal rules before implementation.)
Make changes to regulations and license documents to 1) more clearly indicate that permits are only available to sportsmen with a permanent disability, 2) incorporate permit information on hunting license documents and indicate when the five-year permit expires, and 3) better highlight bag limit changes for disabled hunters in the Oregon Big Game Regulations.
Comments are welcome from all hunters and others who are interested. To comment on the proposed changes, email su.ro.etatsnull@ofniefildliw.wfdo or provide in person testimony at the meeting Sept. 2 in Welches. Emails received by July 29 will be included in the information packet Commissioners receive before the meeting. Email comments received after that will be provided at the meeting.

Currently, about 4,000 people have an Oregon Disabilities Hunting and Fishing Permit. For more information on the program, visit http://www.dfw.state.or.us/resources/hunting/disability/

About Pete Heley

Writes and self-publishes Oregon and Washington fishing books.
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