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Spring season bear hunting tags going fast

Bear hunters in southwestern Oregon probably have less than a week left to buy tags for the spring season, which is when the 4,000-tag quota is likely to be reached.

The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife sells spring bear tags for the Southwest Oregon hunt on a first-come, first-served basis, and as of this week, 2,821 tags had been sold, says Michelle Dennehy, spokeswoman for the agency's Wildlife Division.

Tags for this hunt typically sell out just before the Feb. 10 deadline for the various controlled spring-bear hunts across the state, Dennehy says.

The Southwest Oregon hunt encompasses all of Jackson, Josephine, Coos, Curry and Douglas counties, as well as portions of Lane County. The hunt opens April 1 and runs through May.

Those who buy one of these tags are precluded from applying for a controlled tag in spring bear hunts elsewhere in Oregon. Also, those who receive a spring bear tag elsewhere in Oregon are banned from buying a tag for the Southwest Oregon hunt.

However, hunters who fail to draw a tag in one of the controlled hunts can buy a Southwest Oregon tag after the controlled hunt results are made available Feb. 20 — but only if any of the Southwest tags remain unsold.

Hunters killed 488 bears statewide in last year's spring hunts.

Oregon sport anglers will see an 8.7 percent increase in the Pacific halibut quota for the upcoming season, and state fish managers are asking the public for help in crafting how the season will play out in the halibut-rich waters of the central Oregon Coast.

The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife will hold meetings Monday, Feb. 13, in Newport and Wednesday, Feb. 15, in Salem to gather input on how to divvy that quota between the spring and summer all-depth fisheries.

Fresh off their return last week from the International Pacific Halibut Commission, agency representatives will present possible quotas and open dates for the all-depth fishery from Humbug Mountain near Port Orford to Cape Falcon near Manzanita.

At issue will be the number of open dates for the all-depth fisheries from May to July and August to October.

Those who can't attend the meetings can email comments to lynn.mattes@state.or.us or Patrick.P.Mirick@state.or.us.

Reach reporter Mark Freeman at 541-776-4470 or mfreeman@mailtribune.com.