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Mandatory reporting deadline hits tonight

Nearly 100,000 Oregonians who bought deer, elk or other big-game hunting tags in 2013 have until just before midnight tonight to report on their hunt or face a $25 fine under Oregon's mandatory reporting rules.

The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife mailed postcards last week to buyers of 2013 deer, elk, cougar, bear, pronghorn and turkey tags warning them of the deadline to report — even if they were not successful or did not hunt.

The only exceptions are for Sports Pac license holders, who do not need to report on tags that were never issued to them.

Last year, a similar mailing jolted derelict hunters into following the reporting rules.

"This year, we'll probably again see an upsurge in reporting once they got those postcards," ODFW Wildlife Division spokeswoman Michelle Dennehy says.

As of Wednesday, 75 percent of deer hunts and 76 percent of elk hunts had been reported, Dennehy says. That left the holders of about 46,000 deer tags and about 29,000 elk tags who had yet to report, Dennehy says.

Also, 73 percent of bear-tag holders had reported on their hunts, as had 68 percent of cougar-tag holders and three-fourths of turkey-tag holders.

The overall reporting rate as of late Wednesday was 74 percent, Dennehy says.

Those who fail to meet the mandatory reporting deadline will have to pay the $25 fine before they can buy their 2015 hunting license. It's a flat fine regardless of the number of unreported tags held by the hunter.

Hunters can report online or by phone.

The online sites are www.dfw.state.or.us and reportmyhunt.com.

The telephone number, good until 10 p.m. today, is 1-866-947-6339.

The Jan. 31 deadline is for all 2013 hunts that ended by Dec. 31. All hunts that slop over into early 2014 have an April 15 reporting deadline.

To report, hunters need their hunter/angler identification number, which is on licenses and tags, as well as the two-digit code for the wildlife management unit where they hunted. To see a rundown of the codes, check pages 94-95 of the Big Game Regulations booklet.

Hunters need to report the total number of days hunted and the number of days hunted in each WMU.

Those who report by the deadline have a chance to win a deer, elk or pronghorn tag similar to the auction and raffle tags the agency offers in annual fundraisers.

The hunter-generated data is used by biologists to help develop big-game population models and gauge the impact hunting has on them. It is information used to craft everything from seasons to bag limits and tag numbers.

Before the penalty was added, reporting rates hovered around 40 percent. With last year's fine, reporting rates more than doubled to about 85 percent, according to ODFW.

"At that rate, we were actually able to use the information," Dennehy says.

For more information about the program, see www.dfw.state.or.us/resources/hunting/reporting/index.asp.

Spring bear tags going fast

Southwest Oregon bear hunters are gobbling up the spring bear tags for the hunt that opens in April.

Already more than 3,000 tags have been sold on a first-come, first-served basis at license outlets throughout the state, according to ODFW.

This year's 4,400-tag allotment equals last year's, which sold out by mid-February, ODFW Wildlife Division spokeswoman Michelle Dennehy says.

The Southwest Oregon spring season runs through May 31. It is considered a "limited" hunt, but it differs from controlled hunts throughout the rest of Oregon in that hunters must apply for a tag meted out in a spring drawing.

The deadline to buy permit applications for the controlled bear hunts is Feb. 10.

Hunters can apply for spring bear tags online at https://or.outdoorcentral.us/or/license.

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