Cougar hunting bill dies in Senate committee

A bill seeking to re-introduce some sport-hunting of cougars with hounds has died a quiet death in the Oregon Senate after getting an easy nod in the Oregon House, ending the latest effort to return a practice banned by voters in 1994.

The deadline for scheduling hearings came and went Monday without House Bill 2337 receiving a scheduled debate in the Senate Environment and Natural Resources Committee, effectively killing a bill without discussing it.

The bill was sent there by the House on April 20 when it passed by a 45-14 vote, marking the farthest hound-hunting advocates had gotten a bill in the Oregon Legislature since voters twice shot down the practice for bears and cougars in the mid-1990s.

The committee's chairwoman, Democrat Jackie Dingfelder, did not return multiple telephone calls over the past three weeks to discuss her intentions on the bill.

Modeled after a similar program in Washington state that has since ended, the bill sought to create a pilot program through the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife for public hound-hunting, but only within counties whose governing bodies request it.

Sport hunting with hounds was banned in 1993 by voters in Measure 18. Since then, bills seeking to reinstitute some form of hound-hunting have appeared in every session and only HB 2337 ever made it through a single legislative chamber.

Hound-hunting advocates said they would try again in the next legislative session.

— Mark Freeman

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