Wolves, cougars, and dogs may see some slight increases in legal protections after the Oregon legislature’s current session. According to an Oregonian report, “cougars won’t be treed by packs of hounds. Wolves may not be shot on sight unless they’re caught with a piece of lamb or cow in their mouths. The practice of roping and tripping horses is on its way to being outlawed.”
The Equine tripping bill, SB 835, has strong bipartisan support. The wolf bill, HB 3452, is also likely to pass. HB 3452 would require that endangered gray wolves be caught in the act of attacking livestock or working dogs or in the act of chasing livestock before killing them would be permitted. It would not allow any killing of wolves that is not permitted under the federal Endangered Species Act, 16 U.S.C. 1531.
Another bill expected to become law would make it illegal to leash a dog with a tether that is too short or causes death or injury. The same bill, HB 2783, also prohibits chaining or tying a dog for over 10 hours a day unless the tether is attached to a running line, pulley, or trolley system. Even then, tying a dog longer than 15 hours a day would be unlawful.
A bill that would have allowed using dogs to hunt cougars failed in committee. HB 2624 proposed to allow counties to opt out of a law passed by Oregon voters in 1994 and reaffirmed two years later that bans the use of dogs to hunt cougars for sport. Ignoring the clear will of these majorities and the advice of biologists, HB 2624 sought to allow trophy hunters to pursue and kill cougars using packs of radio-collared hounds for sport. Research studies have shown that increased cougar killing increases risk to the public by creating an unnatural number of juvenile cougars in the population. Juveniles have been shown to be the age class most frequently involved in human conflicts.
Related Oregon Animal Law Resources
Harry Esteve, Critters are Catching Some Breaks at the Oregon Legislature, Oregonian, May 29, 2013.