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Bear tags selling quickly under new system

Tags to hunt black bears this spring in southwest Oregon are selling quickly in the state's inaugural first-come, first-served sale of spring bear tags.

As of Monday, only 978 of the 3,500 tags available for this year's SW Oregon hunt remained, according to the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife.

The tags are sold through the agency's point of sale licensing system, available at most sporting goods stores.

The agency formerly sold tags through the regular spring bear controlled-hunt lottery. But the lottery garnered few applications, and hunters increasingly waited for the post-lottery first-come, first-served sale of leftover tags.

Mark Vargas, ODFW's Rogue District wildlife biologist, received permission from the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission to sell tags without the lottery, similar to how controlled tags are sold for the fall turkey hunt in southwest Oregon.

Another 3,885 bear tags will be offered in 14 adult and three youth controlled hunts this spring. Interested hunters have until Tuesday night to apply for the hunts.

Hunters who buy a SW Oregon spring bear tag before the drawing cannot apply for other controlled spring bear hunts or point savers.

Results of the draw will be available by Feb. 20.

Spring bear hunt applications cost $4.50, and the actual tags cost $11.50.

The SW Oregon spring hunt opens April 1 and runs through May 31. Other controlled seasons open April 1 or 15, depending on the location.

For more information on black bear hunting, visit ODFW's big game hunting Web site at www.dfw.state.or.us/resources/hunting/big_game/.

Whale speakers sought

Morris Grover is trying to round up Oregonians trained in the Whale Watching Spoken Here lingo to man whale-spotting sites along the Oregon Coast during spring whale-watch week March 21-28.

Grover, the program's volunteer coordinator, is looking to fill 450 volunteer-days at key whale-spotting sites to help visitors spy the spouts of whales during the spring migration.

Eligible volunteers are those who have completed a two-day training, which is offered three times annually.

"They kind of forget that once they get that training, they don't lose that opportunity to volunteer," Grover says.

Volunteers can sign up through the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department Web site at www.whalespoken.org, by e-mailing Grover at morris.grover@state.or.us or by telephoning 541-765-3304.

About 200 people volunteer annually to help with the program, and about half of them are regulars, Grover says.

The next available training for would-be volunteers is Feb. 14-15 at Cape Disappointment State Park near Ilwaco, Wash. That training will include a day with international whale expert Carrie Newell of Eugene.

Fishery seat open

ODFW is accepting nominations through Friday for a seat to represent Oregon fisheries interests on the Pacific Fishery Management Council.

The seat, currently held by Frank Warrens, is reserved for an Oregon representative.

Warrens has applied for reappointment, says Brandon Ford, spokesman for the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife's Marine Program in Newport.

Anyone interested in being considered or wishing to nominate someone must contact Cyreis Schmitt at 541-867-4741 or Cyreis.c.schmitt@state.or.us.

The PFMC is one of eight regional councils established by the Magnuson Fishery Conservation and Management Act to manage fisheries in federal waters from three miles to 200 miles offshore. The inner three miles are managed by the states.

ODFW will forward nominations to Gov. Ted Kulongoski, who will forward at least three candidates to the National Marine Fisheries Service and the U.S. Department of Commerce for a decision.

Reach reporter Mark Freeman at 776-4470, or e-mail mfreeman@mailtribune.com.