A bill that earned State Sen. Bill Hansell the moniker “Road Kill Bill” has become law.
Hansell and Rep. Greg Barreto, both of whom represent Wallowa County, introduced two laws designed to salvage wild meat for human consumption in the last legislative session. Both will become effect by January 2019. Hansell tried to share, if not deflect, the dubious honor and pass that on to cosponsor Barreto, but the alliteration was too much fun for lawmakers and it stuck.
The (Road Kill) Wildlife Salvage Bill requires State Fish and Wildlife Commission to adopt rules for issuance of wildlife salvage permits to utilize deer or elk accidentally killed as a result of vehicle collisions.
It’s not a new idea, 20 states have salvage bills, according to Hansell, and Montana even has a phone app that streamlines the permission and collection process.
Oregon lags behind other western states in that regard, but salvage of the approximately 1,600 deer and elk are killed in run-ins with cars in Eastern Oregon will begin in 2019.
The bills were part of a discussion with the two legislators hosted by Wallowa County Chamber of Commerce Nov. 9 in Enterprise.
The second bill Hansell and Barreto sponsored began as “The Joseph Deer Bill” but found broad support and was eventually passed as the Urban Deer Population Bill. Despite the fact that the discussion of what to do about urban deer becoming a public nuisance began in Joseph, ironically the city will not be implementing the law, according to Mayor Dennis Sands.
“Sen. Hansell had sent me a copy of the proposed bill, and I presented it to the council last year. We decided to not pursue it at this time,” said Sands.
Other cities will implement the law, which requires State Fish and Wildlife Commission to adopt a pilot program for urban deer population control. Before deer can be harvested, the city must determine that the deer populations constitute a public nuisance, pass an anti-feeding ordinance and work with the State Fish and Wildlife Commission on determining the process of harvesting.
Deer harvested will be donated to a local food bank or other charitable organization at the expense of the local government.
Other than occasional visits such as the one with the Wallowa County Chamber of Commerce Nov. 9, the two keep tabs on the county in a variety of ways.
“Those morning teleconference meetings (held at the Wallowa County OSU Extension Office while the legislature is in session) are extremely valuable to us,” Sen. Hansell said. “Of the 76 bills that came through that we worked on pretty extensively, 36 were the result of a constituent request. Somewhere in the district someone asked for help.”
The representatives emphasized that finding the solution was the ultimate goal when a problem is identified. When constituents present ideas, the representatives are hoping that both a clear definition of the problem and a suggested solution are available.