Bow hunters should check fire closures, watch for wolves

<I>File photo</I><BR>This coyote displays the classic pointed nose and large pointed ears that distinguish coyotes from wolves, which have blunter, rounder features. Wolves are also about a foot taller than coyotes.

With bow hunting season having opened Saturday, Aug. 26, state wildlife managers are reminding bow hunters to check with land managers for any fire closures or restrictions that could affect access.

Active fires burning in some areas, as well as high fire danger in other areas, has led to some road closures and other closures could be implemented with little warning. Hunters and others planning trips into Oregon's wild areas should be prepared to be flexible with their plans if they encounter access restrictions.

ODFW does not close hunting seasons due to fire danger. However, hunters may need to hunt in a different area if their favorite hunting spot is the site of an active fire or if a private landowner has closed access due to fire danger.

Hunters should also be prepared to comply with fire-related restrictions by walking on roads that have been closed to vehicle traffic, carrying fire safety equipment such as shovels, axes and water into camp, and cooking on a gas stove not an open fire. Specific information about restrictions can be found at the Oregon Department of Forestry's website, (www.egov.oregon.gov/ODF/FIRE).

Restrictions commonly put in place include: 1. Prohibition of smoking while traveling, except in vehicles on improved roads, in boats on the water, and at designated locations. 2. Open fires, such as campfires, charcoal fires, and cooking fires are allowed only in designated locations. Portable cooking stoves using liquefied or bottled fuels are allowed. 3. The use of motor vehicles, including motorcycles and all-terrain vehicles, may be prohibited, except on improved roads. 4. Possessing the following fire equipment while traveling in timber, brush or grass areas may be required: one axe at least 26 inches in length, with a head weighing at least 2 pounds; one shovel at least 26 inches in length, with a blade at least 8 inches wide; and one gallon of water or one fully charged and an operational 2.5 lb or larger fire extinguisher.

Watch for wolvesHunters heading into remote areas, particularly in northeast Oregon, should also be on the lookout for wolves. Though none have been confirmed, several recent wolf reports have been investigated by state and federal wildlife managers. Any wolf sightings should be promptly reported to the nearest ODFW or U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service office.

Wolves are not currently established in Oregon, but are expected to disperse into the state from Idaho. Wolves are protected by the federal Endangered Species Act, making them illegal to hunt. Hunters should be aware of how wolves differ from coyotes, which are legal to hunt.

Wolves:

Weigh 70-100 pounds

2.5 feet at shoulder

Large and blocky snout and muzzle

Short and rounded ears

Coyotes:

15-30 pounds

1.5 feet at shoulder

Long and pointed snout and muzzle

Long and pointed ears

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