Deadline nears to report 2016 hunts

    Nearly 21,700 Oregon hunters who failed to report their 2014 hunting successes paid the $25 penalty when buying licenses last year, generating $541,700 in the mandatory-reporting program created by the Oregon Legislature.

    Another 12,433 hunters who failed to report their 2014 successes did not purchase licenses last year and did not pay the penalty, according to the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife.

    That brings the penalties paid to more than $1.83 million since 2014, when the agency started collecting fees for hunters who failed to report on time and then later bought an Oregon hunting license, according to the agency. 

    The money collected in the penalty program will go toward increased enforcement of winter-range closures such as travel-management areas, says Michelle Dennehy, ODFW's Wildlife Division spokeswoman.

    "We have not dedicated these funds to a particular budget item because we'd prefer not to collect these funds," Dennehy says. "We'd rather hunters just reported on time."

    The first "on time" deadline for reporting is Jan. 31 for hunters whose seasons ended in 2016, even if they did not go afield. The deadline is for those who bought deer, elk, pronghorn, cougar, bear and turkey tags for hunts last year.

    Those with hunts slopping over into 2017 have until April 15 to report.

    The Oregon Legislature enacted the $25 fine as a way to help ODFW biologists collect data they need from hunters, according to the agency. Reporting had been mandatory for several years, but without the penalties hunters were lackadaisical about complying.

    It's a one-shot fine per year of nonreporting, regardless of how many hunts the hunter did not report.

    As of Dec. 30, the agency has collected information on about one-third of the tags sold in 2016 that are subject to mandatory-reporting, Dennehy says. That's slightly ahead of this time last year, she says.

    Deer and elk hunters who don't report their 2016 tags on time will need to pay a $25 penalty before they can purchase a 2018 hunting license. The one-year lag is because 2017 hunting licenses have been available since Dec. 1, and hunters who didn't plan on reporting could have bought licenses before the reporting deadline.

    Report online at or call 1-866-947-6339 to report by phone. Hunters need to have their hunter/angler identification number, which is printed on all licenses and documents and stays the same year-to-year.

    Corps preps Lost Creek for storms

    The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers began drafting down Lost Creek Lake Thursday in preparation of capturing extra runoff from two new storm fronts headed toward Southern Oregon.

    Corps hydrologists increased the outflows Thursday from 1,150 cubic feet per second to 1,500 cfs in an effort to create more space to capture higher inflows from heavy rains and melting snow during two so-called "atmospheric river" events on the horizon.

    A storm front Saturday was expected to drop about 1½ inches of rain in Medford, according to the National Weather Service. A stronger storm forecast to reach here Wednesday was forecast to drop up to 3 inches of rain in Medford.

    The storms come after as much as 16 inches of snow fell at some Rogue Basin high-elevation gauges in a 24-hour period between Tuesday and Wednesday.

    The Corps typically begins filling Lost Creek Lake in January, but the basin remains in its historic flood season so outflows can yo-yo significantly, which can impact boating and steelhead fishing on the Rogue.

    Steelhead tend not to bite well when the water is rising.

    — Reach Mail Tribune reporter Mark Freeman at 541-776-4470 or Follow him on Twitter at

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