Federal shutdown stalls talks on crossbow use by disabled hunters

Add disabled hunters seeking the right to use crossbows in the field as yet another victim of the federal budget shutdown.

The Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission had to table its planned revisiting of crossbow hunting bans in Oregon because a federal official commissioners wanted to hear from could not attend Friday's meeting in Newport.

The seven-member commission was set to hear a presentation from the Americans with Disabilities Act coordinator for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services' Pacific Region based in Portland, says David Lane, a spokesman for the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife.

But the federal furlough meant no one from the USFWS could testify at the meeting, Lane says.

The discussion, therefore, was tabled and now the commission won't be able to revisit crossbow rules until Dec. 6 in Portland at the earliest.

The commission has no November meeting scheduled, Lane says. No agenda has been set yet for the December meeting, he says.

The commission was set to discuss crossbows amid requests by disabled hunters to get a decades-old ban on crossbow use here lifted for hunting seasons.

As a jumping-off point, the commission was set to begin where it left off when it last visited the issued in 2010 — allowing crossbows for only the most heavily disabled owners of an Oregon Disabilities Hunting and Fishing Permit,

Crossbows are commonly accepted weapons among archery hunters in most Midwest and Southern states, many with whitetail deer populations strong enough that hunters are encouraged to kill multiple deer annually.

In Oregon, hunters have been concerned that the increased power and range of crossbows over conventional bows could lead to higher hunter success rates, resulting in shorter seasons on its migratory mule and black-tailed deer populations. Big-game seasons in Oregon are set based in part on the numbers of deer hunters are expected to kill.

Currently, crossbows are legal only for shooting non-protected animals like nutria and coyotes that are not part of big-game hunting structures.

— Mark Freeman

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