Declaring that he won't approve any partisan bills, Representative Brad Witt, the Chairman of the Oregon House Committee on Agriculture and Natural Resources announced the death knell of three wildlife bills last week.
The first two, HB 2050 and HB 3515 were of an anti-wildlife nature.
House Bill 2050 bill would have allowed individual counties to ignore the restrictions in Measure 18 and use hounds to hunt or pursue cougars.
While Witt didn't consider this bill to be partisan, he did announce that it wasn't going to pass. "HB 2050 is going to die", Witt said. "It doesn't have enough votes to pass on the floor."
On the other hand, "House Bill 3515 is one of two bills that present partisan problems. HB 3515 would be a problem for one caucus, and House Bill 2537 would be a problem for the other caucus."
HB 3515 would have prohibited the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission from including the gray wolf on the state Endangered Species List as threatened or endangered.
Both 2050 and 3515 had the support of agriculture and hunters' groups, and opposition from animal-rights organizations.
House Bill 2537 was supported by animal-rights organizations and opposed by hunters. HB 2537 would have raised the penalties for the poaching of black bear or cougar to $15,000, the same as for Oregon's most highly valued game species, bighorn sheep and Rocky Mountain goats.
"We try to the greatest extent on this committee to not take partisan votes, to not send bills out on a partisan basis," Witt said. "We were not able to do that in either of these instances. And those bills are going to die today."