March 30, 2013

Which Oregonians should have a say in state wildlife policy?

From Oregon Wild: 

For Wildlife, Don't Give Up Your Voice

Native wildlife is among Oregon’s greatest treasures. Elk, eagles, songbirds, salmon, and wolves help make our state special. Unfortunately the agency charged with managing wildlife is struggling. That’s why it’s so perplexing that the state legislature is considering doubling down on the problem.

HB3437 is a divisive bill that excludes the vast majority of Oregonians from participating on the state Fish & Wildlife Commission. It requires members to have held a hunting, fishing, or shellfish license for at least 10 consecutive years prior to their appointment. Those excluded would include biologists, business owners, wildlife-watchers, and even hunters and anglers currently serving on the commission.

Hunters and anglers have a right to a seat at the table. But no single user group has a right to all the seats at the table. We all have a stake in seeing native wildlife properly managed.

The Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife faces serious challenges. Its financial fortunes are directly tied to license sales.

Outdoor recreation is a booming multibillion dollar economic engine in Oregon. But according to the Outdoor Industry Association, over 90% of that revenue is generated from non-consumptive uses. That money – and the voice that goes with it – doesn’t make its way to the agency. That’s why so many Oregonians are already left out.

With less Oregonians buying hunting and fishing licenses, the agency is struggling. Rather than expand the base of support for the often controversial agency, HB3437 would exclude all but the most diehard hunters and anglers.

Even more troubling, the exclusionary bill is being championed by a new organization with ties to extractive industries and an open disdain for our broad conservation values.

Oregon needs to have a serious discussion on how to better manage wildlife for all Oregonians. Tell your state legislator that locking out over 90% of the public is a step in the wrong direction.

For Wildlife,
Rob Klavins
Wildlife Advocate
Oregon Wild

PS – Oregonians, you can click here to make sure you’re not locked out of wildlife management decisions. If you live out of state, please pass this message on to your Oregon friends.

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