October 5, 1997

Oregon Targets Bears

Associated Press

Wildlife management

Expansion of black bears after voters curbed hunting methods three years ago has Oregon officials considering a bear-hunting season along parts of the Rogue River for the first time since 1959.

Bear numbers have risen since a 1994 ballot initiative that banned the use of dogs and bait in hunting, said state biologist John Toman.

Similar propositions were passed in Washington and rejected by Idaho voters last year. However, Idaho advocates have launched another drive to curb bear hunting methods.

Toman believes the Oregon hunt is necessary to control unruly black bears plaguing an increasing human presence along the river. The Fish and Wildlife Commission agreed, after taking complaints of marauding bears by lodges along the river.

Critics say the hunt would be dangerous on the crowded river.

More than 60,000 passengers a year board commercial jet boats to tour the 52-mile navigable stretch of the lower Rogue, while tens of thousands more raft, kayak and canoe the rapids and fish for salmon and steelhead in the waters made famous by Zane Grey.

Critics say the problems are better managed by giving kill permits to lodges to take care of individual problem bears.

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