Oregon Bill To Use Hounds And Bait For Bear

Oregon Legislature, Bear Hunting Magazine

Oregon is another state that has bills in the works to change the way bears can be harvested in their state. Earlier this week, both sides discussed at a legislative hearing the pros and cons of how to manage the state's black bear and cougar populations.

Many testified in favor of the bill before the House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee. House Bill 2624 would exempt counties from the statewide prohibition on using dogs to hunt cougars and black bears. If county voters approve, it would also allow the use of bait to hunt bears, which voters in the entire state banned in 1994.

In part the hearing held earlier this week was a lot like the arguments that made headlines and campaign ads in 1994, when the ban on hunting bear and cougars with dogs and bait was put on the ballot as a citizen initiative. It passed overwhelmingly in urban counties while most rural counties voted against it. An effort to repeal the ban two years later failed on a statewide vote.

A clear complaint from many who spoke is that Oregon has different needs in its rural districts than its urban areas, and there is an overriding sense that urban voters hold sway. They said HB 2624, which allows voters in each county to decide cougar and bear hunting policy, is fairer than a statewide vote.

Where the bills head from here is unclear. A Representative on the committee was planning on checking with other committee members before deciding whether to call for a vote on the bill to send it to the House floor.

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