New rules for bears, broadheads and tipsters

Bowhunters will be allowed to use mechanical broadheads during big-game seasons, and Oregonians who turn in poachers can qualify for preference points in controlled-hunt draws under new rules adopted for the 2019 big-game seasons.

In addition, southwest Oregon spring bear hunters will be ushered back into the controlled-hunt process with the loss of first-come, first-served tag sales under rules adopted last Friday by the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission during its meeting in Bandon.

The commission also adopted a few tweaks to the 2019 sport-fishing regulations, including a reduction in the annual bag limit from five to three wild winter steelhead for the Rogue and Chetco rivers, as well as a handful of other streams.

That rule came after the commission denied a petition from some steelhead anglers to require catch-and-release fishing for all wild steelhead in all southwest streams.

The commission also changed a few other fishing rules. Anglers can now possess three daily limits of trout and warmwater fish instead of just two days worth. Also, the commission standardized striped bass regulations statewide.

Until now, bowhunters have been relegated to using only fixed-blade broadheads while hunting big game. Mechanical broadheads are considered to provide better accuracy and can create larger “cutting diameter” than fixed-bladed broadheads.

The move was requested by Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife managers to simplify rules and to allow hunters to choose equipment based on performance and personal preference.

Another nod to simplification was a vote to end the first-come, first-served sale of spring bear tags in southwest Oregon and instead offer them through the controlled-hunt process like all the other bear hunts.

The commission also approved rules for a new twist on turn-in-poachers incentives enacted last year by the Oregon Legislature.

Under the new rule, people can choose to receive five preference points to increase their controlled-hunt draw chances if they provide information leading to an arrest or citation in cases of unlawful take, possession or waste involving moose, mountain goat, bighorn sheep and wolves. Tipsters would receive four preference points for cases involving bear, cougar, deer and elk.

Rockfish limit rises

Since when does the government ever give something back after taking it away?

The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife did this week.

The agency on Wednesday reinstated the five-fish aggregate rockfish daily bag limit that was cut July 1 because early black rockfish catches threatened to fill Oregon’s annual quota before the end of the year.

The move comes as the Oct. 1 opener for all-depth bottomfish fishing begins as scheduled. Anglers had been relegated to fishing only within the 30-fathom line throughout the spring and summer to reduce deep-water catches of slower-growing rockfish species.

The change back to five fish is not expected to lead to harvest rates high enough to force another in-season closure before Jan. 1.

The daily limits for anglers are five rockfish, two lingcod and 25 flatfish. The keeping of cabezon is closed for the rest of the calendar year because that quota has been reached.

Bear Camp Road open

Bear Camp Road is open again as the Klondike fire in the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest has settled down enough for traffic to resume on this important forest thoroughfare.

The road had been closed for more than a week for public safety and to make room for firefighters battling the Klondike fire, then it was open just for Agness and Galice residents, as well as those floating the Lower Rogue Canyon.

But the Forest Service opened the road Monday and urged the public to drive slowly and carefully because firefighting traffic will still be on the road.

The Burnt Ridge and Chrome Ridge roads remain open.

Bear Camp Road links the river hamlets of Galice and Agness. It is heavily used in the fall during deer and elk hunting seasons, and as an alternate route to the south coast.

It is largely one lane with turnouts.

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