Citing concern with continuing technological advance and the tradition of a fair chase, the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission Friday banned the use of all movable decoys for big game hunting and the use of battery and motorized decoys for game bird hunting.
"We don't hunt anymore because we need to hunt to survive. We do it for other values," said Commissioner Jeff Feldner of Newport before the vote. "We need to draw a line somewhere or we'll have flying duck decoys."
The seven-member Commission meets monthly to set administrative rules and adopt policies for implementation by the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife.
The new rules, which go into effect June 1, 2003, prohibit the use of battery-powered spinning or flapping wing "robo ducks" and "wiggling" decoys for waterfowl hunting. However, stationary, human-powered or wind-powered decoys are allowed for game bird hunting. The Commission chose to further restrict the use of big game decoys and only will allow stationary decoys starting June 1, 2003.
Newer waterfowl decoys set their wings, settle into the water and then fold their wings into the resting position. Some deer decoys have moving tails and new turkey decoys move along a track.
During the discussion, Commissioner John Esler said the Commission has set a precedent that favors giving the largest number of people the opportunity to participate in hunting and fishing activities through gear restrictions. For example, anglers are limited to one rod and automatic shotguns are prohibited.
"If we don't put an edge to it now, there's not going to be an edge," Esler said.
Hunter opinion on the issue of mechanical decoys was evenly split between those that favor using traditional hunting methods and those that favor the use of new technology to increase success in the field. More than 250 written comments and the results of a telephone survey of 550 hunters found 50 percent of hunters favor waterfowl mechanical decoys and 50 percent did not. A survey of the 9,600 member Oregon Hunters Association produced similar results.
However, OHA members strongly supported a ban on all motorized and battery powered decoys for big game and called it a "no brainer," testified Al Elkins, spokesman for the association. Human safety concerns associated with increasingly life-like decoys and the use of high-powered rifles for big game hunting was cited.
The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife prohibits the use of battery-powered and motorized waterfowl decoys. California Department of Fish and Game banned them until Dec. 1 to protect resident ducks.