Field trainers will be able to release and shoot domestically raised birds year-round when they're training hunting dogs and raptors under a new set of rules approved by the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission on Thursday.
The change is designed to bring common training practices in line with Oregon wildlife laws.
Under the new rules, dog trainers and falconers can get a free, self-issued permit through the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife's website to release pen-raised pheasants for training, provided the birds are marked properly and the trainer has all the necessary hunting licenses, tags and validations.
Trainers will be allowed to work their animals in game-bird nesting habitat year-round as long as wildlife is not harassed. Under past rules, field training in nesting habitat from April through July was considered wildlife harassment and was illegal without a permit.
A tract in Denman Wildlife Area in White City is one of a handful of state-owned wildlife areas where field training will be allowed.
The new rules include the creation of a formal pursuit season — from Sept. 1 through Jan. 31 — for dogs to chase wild-born upland game birds such as quail.
The new rules do not apply to non-hunting dogs.
The commission in January adopted a set of temporary rules that for the first time made many of these conventional field-training practices legal in Oregon.
The new rules were drafted by a 19-member advisory group that included hunting-dog trainers, game-bird propagators, shooting-preserve operators, falconers, hunters, bird conservationists and the Oregon State Police.
Under previous laws, no one could legally release a pen-raised bird without a permit — even on private land. And pen-raised birds released could not be shot legally outside of regular hunting seasons or special events, because the law did not differentiate between wild and pen-raised birds upon release.
Reach reporter Mark Freeman at 541-776-4470, or email at email@example.com.