Oregon Shuts Down Hunting and Fishing to Non-Residents Over Coronavirus Concerns

Non-residents cannot hunt or fish in Oregon effective immediately.

The worldwide effects of coronavirus continue to hit all facets of life. Now we are starting to see it affect outdoor recreation.

The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife announced in a press release late Thursday they are closing all recreational fishing, hunting and crabbing to non-residents effective 11:59 p.m. Friday, April 10. The news comes hot on the heels of neighboring Washington closing some hunting seasons due to concerns about the virus.

The press release states the concern isn't that people can get the virus by participating in the activities. Rather, it is that people traveling in from out of state could potentially spread COVID-19 to areas that have been untouched by the virus.

"Rural communities are concerned about the potential impact of COVID-19 on medical and emergency services, search and rescue and their citizens. Some have asked us to close seasons to reduce travel," ODFW Director Curt Melcher said in a press release. "We would like to keep seasons open to give locals an outlet during this difficult time, but that doesn't mean it's OK to travel to these communities. Stick close to home and fish at your local lake, pond or river and do not go crabbing or clamming unless you live on the coast, and then only to places where access is still open."

The press release does not give an end date for the restrictions for non-resident hunters and fishermen. It only states that "the restriction extends until COVID-19 restrictions are lifted and it is deemed safe to travel into Oregon." The state is currently under a state-wide stay at home order that also has no end date. The date when it is ended will be determined by the governor.

The ODFW did indicate they believe there will be hunting and fishing opportunities for non-residents later in the year. The release also states that ODFW staff had noticed an uptick in interest from non-residents wanting to come into the state to hunt and fish prior to the announcement.

If there is one bit of good news, it's that Oregon is giving a little leeway here for newer residents. The restriction does not apply to people who moved to the state in the last six months and haven't established residency yet.

The ODFW says they will refund non-resident spring turkey and bear tags. They ask that hunters email [email protected] or call 503-947-6101 for refund inquiries. Fishing licenses are non-refundable.

The news of the closure went wildly viral across social media with many people in neighboring states expressing their displeasure on the ODFW's social media channels.

"ODFW believes this action restricting non-residents will help local communities enforce the restrictions on out-of-state travelers violating the order, and putting local resources and residents at risk," Melcher said in the release. "We appreciate everyone's understand at this difficult time and look forward to seeing you outdoors again in the future when this passes."

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