Catching Poachers and Tracking the Harvest

Benton County Sheriff’s Corporal Al Shermerhorn patrols the three-quarters of wooded land in Benton County. His responsibilities are wide ranging, and include identifying fire hazards and vandalized logging equipment. However, what’s arguably become Shermerhorn’s most important responsibility is the enforcement of hunting and fishing laws. 

This past year, his duties included, but weren’t limited to, catching three men who had shot and removed three deer without reporting them, and charging a group of men who were shooting deer from a roadway – it’s illegal to fire a weapon from any moving vehicle, including cars, ATVs, snowmobiles, and aircraft.

When an animal is killed legally in Oregon, the state collects data on these kills to help keep track of and manage animal populations. Assisting this process, the state is broken up into different wildlife management units. Benton County includes the Willamette and Alsea units, which also stretch beyond the boundaries of Benton County.

Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife collects the data from hunters who are required to report on the tags they’ve purchased for deer, elk, cougar, bear, pronghorn deer, or turkey. When you didn’t kill an animal, or didn’t even go hunting, you are still required to fill out the reports for the tags. Otherwise, you’ll face the $25 fine.

According to ODFW statistics, which are only based on mandatory reporting, 21 black bears were killed last year in the Alsea unit – the second most in the state. Elk killed in 2016 totaled to 457 in the Alsea unit and 114 in the Willamette.

Oregon restricts deer hunting to buck and antlerless seasons. Hunters must register whether they’re using guns or bows. In 2016, there were 3,095 deer killed the Alsea and Willamette units. Well over half of those being bucks.

by Andy Hahn