The 2022 Oregon Legislature adjourned March 4 after what was a good session for animal welfare. Highlights include defeat of a bill to authorize "predator damage control districts" and passage of funding for wildlife highway crossings.
House Bill (HB) 4080 would have authorized rural areas to form "predator damage control districts" to raise money for killing wildlife - including bears, gray wolves, red foxes, gray foxes, coyotes, cougars, bobcats, beavers, fishers, martens, minks, muskrats, otters, raccoons, rabbits, rodents and birds - deemed a theat to private property. The money would have gone to "Wildlife Services," a program in the U.S. Department of Agriculture with a reputation for cruel and unnecessary killing, including indiscriminate killing of coyotes. The districts were authorized initially in 2015, but we succeed last year in killing a bill to continue them. This year, we worked hard with other groups and our supporters to prevent HB 4080 from getting a hearing. Unfortunately, this issue may come back again in the future.
HB 4130 would have appropriated $7 million to building structures that help wildlife cross highways safely. The bill stalled in a budget committee, but the proposed funding was included in HB 5202 (section 342), an end-of session special appropriations bill. We participated in a work group to help bring this proposal forward and lobbied and submitted written testimony in support of the bill. Thanks to Representative Ken Helm of Beaverton for introducing and leading the effort.
On other important animal-welfare issues in the 2022 Legislature:
SB 1504 will prohibit Oregon-licensed gambling operations from accepting bets on greyhound races from places where greyhound racing is illegal. It will also require regular reports on gambling on greyhound races and prohibit licensing of greyhound races in Oregon. The bill initially would have prohibited Oregon gambling operations from accepting any bets on greyhound races, but the bill was narrowed after opposition from the animal-racing and gambling industries. We supported the bill because gambling on greyhound racing helps fund and enable the races, which leads to a variety of mistreatment of the dogs, including extreme confinement. Thanks to outgoing Senate President Peter Courtney of Salem and Representative David Gomberg of the Central Coast for introducing and leading the effort on this bill.
HB 4127 would have appropriated an additional $1 million to pay ranchers for claims of animals lost to wolves. It died after failing to get a vote in the committee to which it was assigned. While this fund has the potential to help increase non-lethal responses to complaints about wolves in Oregon, it's too vulnerable to false claims and doesn't require ranchers receiving payments to refrain from asking to have wolves killed. Thus, we joined several other groups in opposing more money for the program before necessary reforms.
House Bill 4128 includes a variety of measures to prevent the spread of zoonotic disease in Oregon. It passed both the House and the Senate and has been signed by the Governor, meaning it has officially become law. Among other things, the bill will require study of whether possession of additional animal species should be prohibited. It will also prohibit the sale of live wildlife for human consumption. We were among the many supporters of the bill because, in addition to helping to prevent the spread of zoonotic diseases, which coronavirus is believed to me, it could help reduce captive confinement of wildlife.
For a complete list of the bills we were tracking and our positions on them, go here. To see the full text of a bill, along with its history, scheduled events and other information, click on the bill number in our list. You should feel free to contact your state legislators at any time about any of these bills (to find out their positions and thank them if appropriate or just to share your views). Click here to find out who your legislators are if you don't already know (you have one senator and one representative). Click the link to their websites for contact information.
Thank you for your interest in animal welfare!