State wildlife managers will start meting out controlled-hunt tags to big-game hunters today as the annual controlled-hunt lottery process begins.
The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife was scheduled to start the random lottery drawing at 4:30 p.m. today at its Salem headquarters, where computers will sift through close to 380,000 applications for big-game hunts that don't fall under any general-season umbrellas.
The results must be made available by June 20 so results postcards can be sent to applicants.
However, ODFW staff will post the drawing results online earlier if possible, ODFW Wildlife Division spokeswoman Michelle Dennehy says.
Last year, the drawing occurred on the evening of June 4, and results were posted online 12 days later, Dennehy says.
If the process works like last year, the results could be online around June 15, she says.
The Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission on Thursday adopted big-game tag numbers for next fall's controlled hunts, setting up today's drawing.
The vast majority of controlled hunts in southwest Oregon will sport the same number of tags as last year, says Mark Vargas, the ODFW's Rogue District wildlife biologist
Most local controlled hunts are for youth hunters, elk-damage control hunts and muzzleloader hunts.
The only real change is in the Southwest Cascades elk hunt for muzzleloaders in November. That hunt, which had 500 tags last year, is down to 450 tags this fall.
Vargas says he recommended the reduction over concerns about High Cascades elk population, production and reduced habitat, especially in the Union Creek and Prospect areas.
"We've been nibbling at that thing over the past few years," he says.
Overall, total controlled hunt tags for this year are a 1 percent increase from last year, with minor declines in deer and pronghorn tags offset by minor increases in bighorn sheep, Rocky Mountain goat, spring bear and elk tags, according to the ODFW.
The biggest changes come in northwest Oregon, where black-tailed deer numbers have dropped below desired levels, so ODFW biologists won approval of major cutbacks in doe tags there.
Reach reporter Mark Freeman at 541-776-4470, or email at email@example.com.