It has been a good couple of weeks for birds of prey in the Oregon Legislature. Last week a bill cleared the House and Senate which would ban the chemical Deca-PBDE which has been identified as a growing threat to fish and wildlife populations as well a humans. Willamette Riverkeeper and Portland Audubon led the effort to ban this chemical. Kudos especially to Willamette Riverkeeper Executive Director Travis Williams and Senator Mark Haas.
This week the Oregon House and Senate came to agreement on House Bill 3089 which will increase penalties for wildlife crimes. The bill was a joint effort of Audubon, the Oregon Hunters Association, Oregon Trappers Association, Oregon Anglers, Trout Unlimited and the Native Fish Society. Special thanks to Senator Jackie Dingfelder and Representative Brian Clem. The bill increases penalties for a variety of wildlife related crimes including illegal taking of wildlife and illegal introductions of non-native wildlife. With regards to birds of prey, civil penalties for illegal taking of birds of prey have been increased from a pathetic $50/ per bird to $2000-$5000 depending on the species. Also repeat offenders who commit a second crime involving illegal take of birds of prey can now be charged with a felony. This is a good bill that brought together a wide array of groups to support increased protections for wildlife. It was a top priority of Audubon during this session. We are working with Congressman DeFazio that would also increase penalties for illegal take of protected bird species at the federal level.
Both the PBDE bill and the Wildlife Penalty bill are expected to be signed by the Governor in the next couple of weeks.