News release from the Oregon Fish And Wildlife Commission
BEND —The Fish and Wildlife Commission voted five to one abstention to prohibit contests for the taking of coyotes and other unprotected mammals Friday after hearing testimony from more than 40 people at their meeting in Bend.
The rules adopted today are in line with the Commission’s regulatory authority. They establish a definition for contests and make it unlawful to organize, sponsor, conduct, or participate in a contest that has the objective of killing unprotected mammals native to Oregon.
The Commission has the authority to regulate the take of unprotected mammals. But state statutes adopted by the Oregon State Legislature classify coyotes and some other unprotected mammals as predatory animals when they are causing agricultural damage on private land. (Predatory animals are defined in statute and do not include carnivores like bears, cougars and wolves which are classified as game mammals.)
Under state statute, the Fish and Wildlife Commission does not have the authority to regulate the take of predatory animals. Statutes state “the Commission shall not prescribe limitations on the times, places or amounts for the taking of predatory animal” (ORS 496.162) and “nothing in the wildlife laws is intended to deny the right of any person to control predatory animals” (ORS 610.060). Another statute, ORS 610.105, also recognizes that landowners or their agents can control predatory animals on their property.
While acknowledging that the Commission does not have the regulatory authority to prohibit contests in all situations, Chair (Mary) Wahl described the new rules as “a step we can take that is within our authority.”
The Commission first considered prohibiting these contests back in December 2022, when they denied a petition while directing ODFW staff to develop rules to stop coyote killing contests in a way that is consistent with their regulatory authority.