Oregon’s legislative session began Wednesday. The 160-day legislative session has a lot in store for two-legged and four-legged Oregonians alike. At least twenty-one bills relating to animals have already been filed pre-session. You can search for and read full bills for yourself here. If you’d like a preview of what bills may be made law in 2017 without the jargon, this summary is for you.
1-4. Cougar Hunting
In 1994, Oregon banned the gruesome sport of hunting cougars with packs of dogs. This year, four bills are intended to weaken this ban. If made law, HB2107, HB2589 and SB371 would allow individual counties to vote to allow hunting cougars with dogs. The fourth bill, SB458, would require State Fish and Wildlife Commission to adopt a controlled hunt program permitting hunting cougars with dogs across all counties.
5. Trap Checking
The longer an animal waits injured in a trap, the more it suffers. SB6 would shorten periods of suffering by requiring that trappers check their traps at least once every 24 hours for most game, with some exclusions.
6-8. Enforcement of Preexisting Laws
Even when abused animals have the law on their side, they may lack a lawyer. HB2026 would appropriate money for a prosecutor dedicated to prosecuting offenses involving harm to animals.
Oregon requires permits for a variety of hunting activities and bans others. HB2709 would add some teeth to difficult to enforce regulations by allowing law enforcement to use unmanned aircrafts to investigate unlawful taking of wildlife.
In 2016, Oregon passed a ballot measure forbidding the sale of parts of several endangered species. HB2576 would clarify some points in the Wildlife Trafficking Prevention Program.
9-11. Crime of Animal Abuse
Currently, first and second degree animal abuse are both misdemeanors in Oregon law. As a Class A misdemeanor, animal abuse in the first degree carries a maximum jail sentence of one year and a maximum fine of $6250. HB2719 would modify the definition of animal abuse in the first degree and make it punishable by a maximum of five years' imprisonment, up to $125,000 fine, or both. Additionally, it would create a required registry for animal abusers. Another bill, HB2637, would create the crime of animal abuse in the third degree where before there were only the two possible charges of first or second degree. A third bill pertains to a smaller detail in animal crime; HB2625 would allow a forfeiture petition to be filed for an animal impounded pending the outcome of an animal crime charge.
12-14. Shelter Pets
A couple bills are targeted at encouraging people to adopt pets from rescues, rather than purchasing specially bred pets. SB326 would create the concrete incentive of an income tax credit for adopting dogs and cats from rescue organizations. On a more symbolic level, HCR16 would designate the rescued shelter dog as Oregon’s official state dog. This gesture would draw attention to the fantastic shelter mutts who need us most, rather than glorifying a particular breed. Conversely, SCR4 would designate the Border Collie as the official state dog.
15-16. Factory Farms
Factory farms regularly feed farmed animals antibiotics in order to encourage weight gain and prevent sickness. But a low-dose antibiotic regime helps breed antibiotic-resistant bacteria. The antibiotics used on animals are the same antibiotics used on humans and antibiotic resistant bacteria bred on animal farms can infect humans. HB2396 would address this problem by prohibiting administration of medically important antibiotics to food-producing animal for nontherapeutic purposes. It would further require operators of concentrated animal feeding operations to file an annual report on their use of medically important antibiotics.
If you’ve done your research the word “polluter” will bring factory farms to mind. SB197 would close a regulatory gap by requiring the Department of Environmental Quality to regulate air emissions from dairy factory farms..
17. Horse Soring
Some show horse trainers apply injurious chemicals or other painful mechanisms to the hooves of show horses to adjust the way the horses walk; these painful gait adjustment techniques are called equine soring. SB422 would make equine soring a crime. The Obama administration recently enacted a rule against this practice on a federal level, but the rule is in limbo due to a blanket Trump regulatory freeze.
18. Pet Transportation
SB556 would make driving with a dog in the driver's lap an offense punishable with a fine up to $250.
19-21. State Department of Fish and Wildlife Responsibilities
HB2035 aims to make the compassionate treatment of animals a little easier. The law would require the State Department of Fish and Wildlife to help Oregon landowners, businesses and communities implement nonlethal methods of mitigating animal nuisances.
The State Department of Fish and Wildlife and the State Fish and Wildlife Commission currently holds regulatory authority over fish in commercial aquaculture facilities. HB2498 would transfer that authority to the State Department of Agriculture. The law would also require that aquaculture-raised fish health be certified by State Department of Agriculture before these fish are released into state waters.
SB373 would require State Fish and Wildlife Commission to adopt a pilot program for urban deer population control; the details of the program would be determined upon passage.