ACTION ALERT: Oregon

Be CIVIL and PROFESSIONAL!

Full alert below and simple form alert at www.usark.org/campaign/oregon-action-alert.

The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) has proposed some rule changes which will negatively impact both native and exotic animal keepers. The changes may even harm the animals by requiring sterilization of animal species that are rarely, if ever, sterilized. While good intention may be the basis for these proposals, ODFW may not be aware of the negative impacts associated with the new rules.

Some states give their DNR, DOA, DFW or similar department/agency authority to change laws through a rulemaking process, which is different than the legislative process. That's what we have here. This is not a bill. These are proposed rule changes so the state legislature is not directly involved, although you can contact your state representatives and senators to make them aware of the impacts and your concerns.

These are changes to Division 44, Chapter 635, formerly known as HOLDING, PROPAGATING, REHABILITATING, AND PROTECTED WILDLIFE. The new title will be PROTECTED WILDLIFE, HOLDING, AND PROPAGATING RULES.

Emails: odfw.commission@state.or.us, odfw.comments@state.or.us, curt.melcher@state.or.usodfw.commission@coho2.dfw.state.or.usODFW.WildlifeInfo@state.or.us

Phone: (503) 947-6000 or (800) 720-6339

Below are some critical changes. See all changes (words in bold and underlined) at www.dfw.state.or.us/wildlife/hot_topics/docs/DRAFT%20ODFW%20revised%20OARs%20Chap635%20Division%20044%20January2016.pdf.

PROPOSED CHANGES

  1. Illegal to keep animals listed under the federal Endangered Species Act (ESA). This list includes many non-native species that have been kept and bred in the U.S. for many decades, hence, not affecting wild populations.
  2. Field herping will be affected.
    • * Under the new rule, it will be unlawful for any person to take, capture, hold, or have in possession and protected wildlife species. That would certainly include manipulating animals for photos, using field hooks, allowing children to hold snakes, etc.
    • * This will be a huge loss to educational efforts and the need for children to get out and experience nature.
    • * Current law should also be amended to allow for responsible field herping.
    • * How can children learn if they cannot actively experience nature?
  3. Addition of the below native species as illegal to keep:
    • * Snakes: Racer (Coluber constrictor), Rubber boa (Charina bottae), Night snake (Hypsiglena chlorophaea), Striped Whip snake (Coluber taeniatus), Ring-necked snake (Diadophis punctatus)
    • * Amphibians: Dunn’s salamander (Plethodon dunni), Southern torrent salamander (Rhyacotriton variegatus), Columbia torrent salamander (Rhyacotriton kezeri), Cascade torrent salamander (Rhyacotriton cascadae), Crater lake Newt (Taricha granulosa mazamae)
  4. Grandfather clause available only for animals currently held with the below requirements:
    • * The holder submits an application for an annual Holding Permit (Wildlife or Wolf), pays the associated fees, and secures a Holding Permit within a one year of the adoption of these amended rules;
    • * Grandfathered animals are held in Department approved facilities;
    • * Grandfathered animals may not be bred;
    • * Two or more held grandfathered animals of the same species of different sexes require sterilization (spay/neuter).
  5. Native nongame wildlife may not be sold or bred.
  6. A Wildlife Holding Permit is required to hold more than two animals per species for each facility or household.
  7. A separate application and associated fees are required for each species requested for holding.
  8. The addition of animals of the species approved on the original permit requires prior approval by the local department biologist.

TALKING POINTS

You may copy/paste and edit any of these to form your comment. Some points reference similar issues but will provide variance in comments.

  1. I oppose the addition of non-native species that are federal-listed as threatened or endangered to the list of animals that are illegal to keep in Oregon. This action would harm decades of conservation work accomplished within the state. Many private keepers have invested years and even decades into breeding these species and ensuring their survival while wild populations are devastated from habitat loss due to human over-population.
  2. The Endangered Species Act already regulates animals that are threatened/endangered. The proposed regulation changes for Oregon are far over-reaching and much more prohibitive than the federal law.
  3. These proposed rule changes would lead to added stress and certainly the loss of life for many of these animals by requiring procedures that are not common veterinary practices (i.e. sterilization of reptiles and amphibians).
  4. There is not a threat of non-native, ESA-listed species of reptiles and amphibians establishing themselves in Oregon. These exotic herps have been kept here as pets for several decades without consequence.
  5. By allowing the propagation and sale of offspring from native species, the pressure upon native populations is reduced. People who are able to purchase captive-bred reptiles and amphibians choose to do so rather than buying or collecting wild-caught animals. Captive-bred animals make better pets and are acclimated to captive husbandry.
  6. Very few to almost no residents were aware of these proposals. These proposed rules are not even listed the ODFW “News Releases” web page.
  7. The inclusion of federally-listed non-native threatened/endangered species will have a negative impact on captive breeding programs for these species. Many Oregon residents have spent tens of thousands of dollars to ensure captive breeding populations of species struggling or nearly extinct in the wild.
  8. By prohibiting propagation of federal-listed threatened/endangered species, the Department is inhibiting the survival of endangered species. This will occur if the Department adds federally-listed threatened/endangered species to their list of species illegal to keep and amends the rule to also end breeding activity and require sterilization of animals.
  9. Non-native species are continually added to the ESA list as “enviro” groups who do nothing to help these animals constantly petition USFWS and threaten lawsuits if the species are not listed. These groups profit by fundraising on the promotion of these efforts, but rarely, if ever, do any work or contribute funds to actually help the species.
  10. Arizona proposed similar changes in 2014 but removed the proposed rules after being educated from stakeholders and professionals.
  11. The state of Virginia removed their regulations over non-native ESA-listed species in 2014 through Senate Bill 50, making listed species legal to keep, breed, buy and sell.

SAMPLE LETTER

SUBJECT: Opposition to Division 44 rule changes

Dear Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife,

Dear Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife,

As an Oregon citizen experienced with animals who will be affected by the proposed regulations, I oppose some of the rule changes to Division 44, Chapter 635 regarding wildlife. I'm upset to see that ODFW did not listen to the logical comments from Oregon's herp community and will move forward with this unjust regulation. I am a responsible animal keeper and find the proposed rule changes to be over-reaching and unjustifiable. Some of them even defeat the purposes they intend to serve.

I am opposed to the rule change making it illegal to keep animals listed under the federal Endangered Species Act (ESA). While I can understand the good intentions for doing so, this action will do absolutely nothing to protect these species in the wild. Actually, it will harm conservation efforts. Not only does the ESA already regulate to protect these species, but many private keepers have invested years and even decades into breeding these species and ensuring their survival while wild populations are devastated from habitat loss due to human over-population.

Also, many species listed under ESA are non-native to the United States. These species are no longer imported into the U.S. and the captive populations here allows for educational opportunities, genetic diversity among breeding groups, understanding of their biology, etc.

Non-native species are continually added to the ESA list as “enviro” groups who do nothing to help these animals constantly petition USFWS and threaten lawsuits if the species are not listed. These groups profit by fundraising on the promotion of these efforts, but rarely, if ever, do any work or contribute funds to actually help the species.

Making these species illegal to keep not only unjustly punishes responsible keepers, but many animals will be negatively affected. There are already many federally-listed endangered and threatened species and their captive-produced offspring in the state. If the proposed rule is implemented it will immediately result in legally-possessed animals and their owners to be in violation of the rule. In addition, most of these species have rarely, if ever, been sterilized.

These rule changes also cast a huge blow to the education of Oregon's youth. The changes make much of a common practice, field herping, illegal. Under the proposed rules, allowing children to handle a rubber boa, for example, would be illegal. This will be a huge loss to educational efforts and the need for children to get out and experience nature. How can children learn about and truly appreciate nature if they cannot actively experience it? Even the current law should be amended to allow for responsible field herping.

I ask that you remove the proposed changes from your amendment to the rule. I implore you to at minimum hold a workshop to discuss these issues with stakeholders and experts within the state. Unfortunately, most stakeholders are unaware of what’s happening and they will be blind-sided by these new regulations. It was not even listed on the ODFW “News Releases” web page. Thank you for your time and have a good day.

Sincerely,

YOUR NAME

Article written by USARK