I thought it might be helpful if I explained the background to the “deer proposal bill” that was recently discussed at the Joseph City Council Meeting and reported in the Wallowa County Chieftain.
It all began when my office asked citizens in the district for potential legislation for the 2017 session. Joseph Mayor Dennis Sands contacted my office indicating there was a deer problem within the Joseph city limits, and that the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife was unable to help. Was there anything we might be able to do through legislation?
We began to work on the issue to determine if there was a need and if so, how to fix it. It was quickly determined that Joseph was not alone. Several cities came to our attention experiencing deer problems, Union and Ashland to name a couple. The League of Oregon Cities, when we met with their staff, were supportive of a bill.
ODFW staff helped us craft the language of the bill concept, and seemed to be pleased that something might be done to help with this problem. The Oregon Food Bank met with us in my Salem office and indicated they would love to take the deer meat for their feeding programs.
Having determined there was a need and working with a coalition of interested parties, we began to craft a bill. It included the following:
· Local Control. I insisted on this. The process begins if and only if the city council determines there is a public nuisance and chooses to use this bill to fix it. No city is mandated to do it.
· ODFW has to concur that a problem exists. If they don’t then nothing will happen.
· ODFW will be tasked with putting the statewide program together and will supervise it.
· Humane euthanasia will be used to take the problem deer. No hunters will be marching through neighborhoods shooting deer. Most likely the state’s wildlife services, i.e. government trappers, will perform those duties.
· Oregon Food Bank will take the meat to feed the homeless in their food programs.
· Antlers and hides can be sold by the city to help pay for any costs they incur. I have been told there is a market for such items.
Because Mayor Sands had been the first to bring this issue to our attention, I wanted to extend the courtesy to him to look at the wording and make sure, if the city of Joseph chose to use it, it would be what the city needed. Unfortunately, as I understand, it took on a life of its own when people posted the bill concept on Facebook.
Representative Greg Barreto and I are moving ahead sponsoring a bill that will add tools for cities to use if they determine they have a problem. I believe, with the strong support that has thus far been generated, the bill has a good likelihood to pass.
Should anyone want more information on this or any other issue, please contact my office (503) 986-1729 or by email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Wishing all of you a very Merry Christmas and prosperous 2017.
Senator Bill Hansell was recently elected for a second term to the Oregon Senate. He represents Wallowa, Union, Umatilla, Morrow, Gilliam, Sherman, and half of Wasco counties. He was Umatilla County Commissioner for 30 years before being elected to Salem in 2012. He and his wife Margaret live in Athena.