SALEM — The Fish and Wildlife Commission will meet today and tomorrow in Florence to adopt 2016 big game hunting regulations and hear an updated Biological Status Review for wolves.

The Commission meeting on Friday starts at 8 a.m. at the Driftwood Shores Resort, 88416 First Ave. 

The Commission is expected to adopt the 2016 big game hunting regulations. Major changes under consideration for 2016 regulations are:

  • Allowing archery hunters to use lighted nocks.
  • A new Premium Hunt series that would offer an opportunity to draw an additional deer, elk, or pronghorn tag with a longer season. These tags would be very limited but available in most areas. Tags would be allocated through the regular controlled hunt draw process but would not use preference points.
  • Changing renewal period for hunters with a disability permit from every two years to every five years.
  • Defining “drones” and prohibit their use for activities related to hunting, trapping, and fishing.
  • Clarifying public access to the new Lower Deschutes River Ranch (part of Lower Deschutes Wildlife Area).

Other business includes:

  • Further discussion of cougar target areas planned to reduce cougar damage to livestock, limit human safety problems, or reduce impacts on ungulate populations. Plans include new E. Umpqua and Interstate target areas and continuation of projects in Steens Mountain and Warner units.
  • Formally adopt fees not in statute that are set to take effect Jan. 1, 2016.

Finally, the Commission will be briefed on the updated Biological Status Review of Wolves and evaluation of criteria to remove the gray wolf from the state Endangered Species Act. This is an informational briefing only; rulemaking is scheduled for the next Commission meeting Monday, Nov. 9 in Salem.

The state’s Wolf Plan calls for initiating a process to delist wolves from the state Endangered Species Act when Oregon reaches the conservation objective of four breeding pairs for three consecutive years in eastern Oregon. This objective was met in early 2015, after ODFW documented 10 packs and nine breeding pairs of wolves in 2014. (A breeding pair is an adult male and female wolf with at least two pups that survive thru Dec. 31.)

The state’s current minimum population of wolves is 81 wolves in 15 groups or packs, not including pups born in 2015. Factors related to wolf habitat, dispersal, habitat connectivity and survival rates all indicate a healthy and growing wolf population in Oregon.

Today, the Commission will tour the Bandon Marsh National Wildlife Refuge, Coquille Valley Wildlife Area and Beaver Slough Drainage District Tidegates. 

Public testimony for topics not on the agenda will be held first thing Friday morning, just after the adoption of temporary rules. Persons seeking to testify on issues not on the formal agenda may do so by making arrangements with the ODFW Director’s Office, at least 24 hours in advance of the meeting, by calling 800-720-6339 or 503-947-6044.

Reasonable accommodations will be provided as needed for individuals requesting assistive hearing devices, sign language interpreters or large-print materials. Individuals needing these types of accommodations may call the ODFW Director’s Office at 800-720-6339 or 503-947-6044 at least 24 hours in advance of the meeting.