Road kill meals expanded, lead-free condors, and hunting rifles classified as assault weapons are what’s in store for the Pacific Northwest this year. How will three new laws introduced in the U.S. Pacific Northwest affect sportsmen?
Per the Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife (“ODFW”), Senate Bill 372 (“SB372”) effectively makes salvaging deer and elk struck by vehicles legal as of January 1, 2019.
Hold your horses though. Before you head out to Highway 97 to mow down an elk dinner, there are a few restrictions and requirements you should know about.
Only deer and elk accidentally struck by a vehicle may be salvaged for consumption under this law and intentionally hitting a deer or elk in order to salvage the remains still remains unlawful.
The new law states that anyone who wants to salvage road-killed deer or elk must complete an online permit within 24 hours of salvaging the animal. In accordance with the ODFW, which tracks Chronic Wasting Disease in the state, SB372, the antlers and head of all salvaged animals must be surrendered to ODFW within 5 business days. Also, the entire carcass, including gut piles, must be removed from the road. For the full details regarding the SB372 requirements, visit ODFW or CLICK HERE.
While online permits, surrendering heads, and verifying facts with law enforcement in exchange for free meat sounds reasonable enough, some Oregon hunters are concerned.
Hunter Candy Yow, of Extreme Desire TV, is an Oregon resident who says the bill is controversial: “There’s a lot of controversy surrounding this new Roadkill bill through ODFW. While it has some great points, there are some areas where I think we may run into trouble.”
The trouble Yow is referring to is the potential for poachers to use the bill as a free ticket to run over animals intentionally. “This bill would allow at least if it’s fresh, to have the meat taken and used for consumption, but would also allow for potential open-ended for poaching, hitting on purpose, and not reporting the hit animals,” Yow said.
According to a recent State Farm Claim study, more drivers in Oregon hit deer than in Washington and California. This study found that 1 out of every 254 Oregon drivers will collide with a deer. You can find more on this study HERE.
If you thought California was bringing all the stops to firearm restrictions, you should check out what Washington state just voted into effect. Here comes Initiative 1639 (“I-1639”).
The new law not only gives a new meaning to the term “semi-automatic assault rifle (SAR),” but it also prohibits the transfers or sales of these rifles to anyone under the age of 21 and requires extended background checks and waiting periods, along with required trainings. Under the new definition of a SAR, your everyday hunting rifles are now classified as semi-automatic assault rifles, making it impossible for legal hunters under the age of 21 to purchase rifles specifically intended to be used for hunting.
While for some this may be a positive step towards firearm safety, to others it is a hinderance to their way of life.
Washington resident and long-time hunter Amy McNealy is concerned with certain aspects of I-1639. “As a single woman living in a very rural area, I depend on my firearms for both personal safety as well as hunting so I can provide food for myself and my family. I-1639 negatively impacts the ability for legal gun owners like myself to maintain our way of life and ensure our personal safety.”
The California Condor, also commonly known as the vulture, has caused some controversial opinions throughout the state. Originally, it was thought that lead ruminants in gut piles from hunting ammunition were the biggest cause to the decline in the population. However, since 2008, when phase 1 of the non-lead ammunition law was put into place, the vulture population has still decreased.
A study conducted after phase 1 stated that even after 100% of hunters were said to be in compliance with the law, the lead levels in the condors were still above 50%, when they should be well below 30% if ammunition was the sole cause. This leads us to believe there is another source causing the lead poisoning in the California Condors.
Nate Thompson, an avid California hunter, weighed in on hunting solely with lead-free ammunition, stating, “while non-lead bullets have come a long ways and some hunters actually prefer them, it doesn’t allow the hunter to necessarily choose the best bullet for the application. This ban limits the hunters on what tools they can use to provide an ethical harvest.”
Thompson’s concern is that a lot of lead-free bullets have lower expansion rates and take a higher minimum velocity to expand and get maximum performance. Therefore, lead-free bullets might not be the ethical choice for every hunting situation.
By July 1st, the Assembly Bill 711 phase 3 will be fully implemented and in effect, making California the first 100% lead-free state when hunting with firearms.
More information on each of these laws can be found via the state’s Department of Fish and Wildlife website. Along with the information provided above, we suggest you do your own research on each individual subject.