New Landowner Tag Rules
The Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission Thursday adopted rules to implement a pilot project in southwest Oregon to allow landowners to better address agricultural damage from elk through the more flexible use of landowner preference harvest tags.

The Oregon Legislature adopted a bill during the 2003 session that directed the Commission to implement the pilot project.

The pilot project will occur on private lands in Jackson, Josephine, Coos, Curry and Douglas counties July 1, 2004 - June 30, 2008. The new rules:
• Provide landowner preference tags to landowners where elk are currently causing damage, where there has been a history of damage coupled with actions to alleviate elk damage, or where elk are located in an "elk de-emphasis zone;"
• Limits the use of tags to taking antlerless elk;
• Requires recipients of extra landowner preference tags to be an individual, partnership, corporation, unincorporated association or other non-governmental entity;
• Allows qualifying landowners to exchange unused general season elk tags or controlled hunt tags for landowner preference tags;
• Allows no more than five pilot program tags to be valid at any time on a particular property;
• Allows landowners to receive pilot program tags regardless of the size of the property;
• Allows landowners to register and participate in the program at any time;
• Allows the ODFW district biologist and the landowner to negotiate the valid time period for the pilot program tags;
• Requires landowners to submit a harvest report within 10 days of the end of the valid hunt period;
• Allows ODFW district biologists to issue and exchange tags; and
• Directs ODFW to establish an advisory committee to meet annually and review the pilot program.

The existing landowner preference program was established in 1981 to allow landowners to obtain harvest tags to hunt on their own land for a period of no more than 30 days. Landowners with 40 or more acres may be allocated landowner preference tags. The more acreage owned, the more tags may be allocated up to a maximum of 10 tags. The existing program does not allow some landowners to effectively address agricultural damage, especially in areas characterized by small plots of land.

Pete Test, ODFW's deer and elk program coordinator, said the pilot project is intended to be less time-consuming for landowners, reduce staff workload, allow landowners to address damage situations with hunters they know, demonstrate ODFW's commitment to solving private land damage, increase public access to elk through landowner preference tags and redistribution of animals, and reduce or eliminate some damage hunts.

The Commission requested ODFW staff report back on the results of the program.
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