Wildlife viewing

COVID-19: ODFW closures, cancellation and FAQs

Find all ODFW closures and cancellations, as well as answers to frequently asked questions about fishing, recreating outdoors, and visiting ODFW hatcheries and wildlife areas.

Find more information about the COVID -19, Oregon’s response and how to stay safe.

Updated March 26, 2020

Oregon fishing, hunting closes to nonresidents

Beginning Friday, April 10 at midnight, all hunting and recreational fishing, crabbing and clamming in Oregon will be limited to Oregon residents only, in order to limit travel and protect rural communities

While most seasons are open, many locations to fish, hunt, crab and clam are closed to public access due to COVID-19 including boat ramps, parking lots and restrooms. All Oregon State Parks are closed. Many county and city parks with fishing locations are closed. Beach access is closed in many areas. National forests have closed most established recreation sites including campgrounds, trailheads and restrooms. Campgrounds, day-use sites and restrooms are also closed on BLM lands.

Please check with the land manager where you are headed for the latest information on access restrictions.

While hunting and fishing seasons remain open, travel to get to those opportunities is strongly discouraged and violates the Governor’s Stay Home, Save Lives order. Please fish or hunt close to home if you do go.

  • Hunting and fishing seasons remain open as adopted in permanent and in-season regulations, except salmon and steelhead fishing on the Columbia River (see closure notice below).
  • Fish stocking continues but ODFW is no longer posting the trout stocking schedule in order to prevent public crowding at waterbodies when we deliver hatchery fish. We will continue to stock popular lakes and ponds as long as people do their part and continue to use social distancing.
  • Wildlife areas currently open remain open during the day for wildlife viewing, fishing and hunting but are closed from 10 p.m. to 4 a.m. No overnight camping is allowed. Visitor areas or other places where people congregate at our facilities are also closed.
  • Sales of licenses, tags and controlled hunt applications continue online and at license sale agents who are open that are still selling licenses—consider giving these essential services a break and buy online this year or limit the number of people in your party who go to an agent at the same time. If you have never tried to purchase online, see our FAQ to get started.
  • Spring bear hunters: The season has not been cancelled but tag sales deadline has been extended to May 1, so you have time to decide if you want to hunt or to delay your hunt. If you can’t hunt due to COVID-19, you can get a refund and reinstatement of preference points. More details.

ODFW closures and cancellations

  • The Columbia River will close to all salmon and steelhead fishing effective Thursday, March 26 at 11:59 p.m. See news release.
  • ODFW offices are closed to public access (walk-in visitors) as of Monday, March 23. But staff remain available by phone and email, see our Contact Page to reach us.
  • Fish hatcheries are closed to public entry to keep fish hatchery staff healthy and they can continue to operate though anglers may access hatchery properties to get to a waterbody that remains open to fishing provided social distance from other people is maintained.
  • All fish cleaning stations owned or managed by ODFW are closed to help meet the social distancing protocols and reduce the spread of the virus from surfaces that are not continually sanitized.
  • All family fishing events, hunter education classes, outdoor workshops and other group activities are cancelled. Commission or other ODFW public meetings are cancelled or going online.
  • Big game tag auctions rescheduled and now bid-by-phone due to COVID-19
  • Bear and cougar hunters: Successful cougar and bear hunters are temporarily not required to check-in their animal at an ODFW office, though they do still need to report basic information about their harvest within 10 days. Hunters need to call the office in the district where they harvested their cougar or bear and report their name, ODFW ID number, date of harvest, location of harvest (wildlife management unit), sex of animal and confirmation number for electronic tags. Or, they can email all the above information to ODFW.WildlifeInfo@state.or.us
  • Roadkill permits: Rules requiring that people check in roadkill parts within 5 business days have also been waived with the exception of heads with antlers from male deer and male elk. (The requirement to surrender heads with antlers is in statute and cannot be waived by ODFW.) Roadkill permittees must call a local office to arrange surrendering antlers. Please call your local office within 5 days of salvaging roadkill to make arrangements (though the actual surrender may occur after 5 days).

FAQs

You’re probably getting information related to hunting, fishing, ODFW events, and recreating on ODFW properties from a lot of different sources. Some are well-informed, others are not. Here are the correct answers to some of the questions we’ve been asked. We’ll be updating this list periodically.

Can I still go...
Buying a license
Hunting
Fishing
Hunter Education
More information

Can I still go...

Can I still go hunting, fishing or wildlife viewing? What about Governor Brown’s Executive Order telling people to stay at home?

On March 23, Governor Brown issued an Executive Order urging people to stay at home to save lives.  See the section on Outdoor Recreation and Travel below.

The Executive Order does not close hunting and fishing. Fishing and hunting seasons remain open. ODFW is reviewing the Governor’s Executive Order to determine how it will impact fishing, hunting and wildlife viewing.

The Executive Order states that “Individuals are directed to minimize travel, other than essential travel...” It also states that individuals should “maintain social distancing of at least 6 feet from any person who is not a members of their immediate household.”

If you do go hunting and fishing, you need to maintain social distance of at least six feet from other people who don’t live in your household, including during travel to and from your destination.

Hunters and anglers should also minimize travelling to hunt and fish and find a destination close to home. Coastal communities, the Columbia River Gorge and other popular travel destinations were inundated with visitors the weekend of March 21-22, which led in part to Governor Brown’s Executive Order.

Also, please check with the land manager where you are headed to confirm the area is open. Closures related to COVID-19 are extremely fluid. Some counties are closing parks and boat ramps. State Parks is closing all of its parks as of March 23, 2020.

Land manager websites:

Or check website of county or city for additional information about access.

Note the Oregon Health Authority Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) has stated it is OK to hunt, fish and view wildlife provided everyone is healthy before you go (e.g. people who are sick should stay home) and if everyone practices social distancing with friends.  See the Oregon Health Authority site for the most current information and recommendations regarding COVID-19.

Buying a license

How can I get a license or tag if ODFW offices are closed to the public?

Visit MyODFW.com to buy your licenses and apply for controlled hunts. Click the green button at the top and login or look up your account. If you have had a hunting or fishing license in the last 4 years, please Do not create a new account. It causes big problems to open a second account. When in doubt, try to “Verify/Look up” your account on the licensing page first, using the ODFW ID/Hunter Angler ID# on your previous licenses or tags.

In addition, some retail license agents are still selling hunting and fishing licenses over the counter. For these customers, it may be best to call ahead to inquire if this service is still available during the governor’s executive order on social distancing and non-essential travel.

If you need assistance, call our statewide licensing department at (503) 947-6101 or email odfw.websales@state.or.us

Effective Monday, March 23, ODFW offices are closed to walk-in customers as part of the statewide efforts to slow the spread of COVID-19. However, ODFW staff remain available by phone and email to assist customers with licensing and other questions. See ODFW contacts online at https:/myodfw.com/contact-us for assistance.

How about suspending the requirement for fishing or hunting licenses so people can get their own in the face of food shortages? Or to encourage people to go outdoors?

ODFW does not have the latitude to suspend licensing requirement for harvest of game animals, fish and shellfish. The requirements to be adequately licensed and the costs of licenses, tags, permits, and endorsements are set in statute.

The revenue from the sale of fishing and hunting licenses provides essential funding for managing and conserving Oregon’s fish and wildlife and providing fishing and hunting opportunities. In addition, the significant ODFW funding that comes from federal grants is tied to the number of paid (not free) hunting and fishing licenses.

Removing the requirement for a license could also lead to over-fishing or over-hunting that harms fish and wildlife populations over the long-term. ODFW regulations take into account hunting and fishing pressure, and removing license requirements would increase that pressure. 

Hunting

Will you extend spring bear season if there is a shelter in place order?

Hunters who drew a spring bear tag have extra time to decide if they will hunt this year. ODFW has extended the spring bear season tag sale deadline until Friday, May 1 so hunters have more time to consider their options, especially those who would have to travel to hunt, as travel is limited to essential needs at this time.

If I drew a tag and am unable to go hunting due to COVID -19 restrictions, can I get a refund?

Spring bear hunters who choose not to go hunting due to COVID-19 restrictions have some options for their controlled hunt tag, including reinstatement of their preference points and a refund of the cost of their tag if already purchased. SportsPac holders will be able to trade out their spring bear tag for a fall

bear tag. Contact ODFW licensing to discuss one of these options at odfw.websales@state.or.us or (503) 947-6101.

Can I still go shed hunting?

Shed hunting has not been closed but follow all guidance about getting outdoors at this time. More information available here.

Is camping going to be closed during my hunting season?

ODFW manages hunting and fishing seasons and access to ODFW wildlife areas. The department does not manage access to most public land (such as national forests, state parks or state forests). Please check with the land manager to determine if camping is allowed.

ODFW wildlife areas closed to camping as of March 22 but are currently open to fishing, hunting and wildlife viewing. All Oregon State Parks are now closed, effective March 23, until further notice.

Land manager websites:

Fishing

Are any lakes, ponds, or rivers closed for fishing because of the coronavirus?

While ODFW has not closed fishing, some land managers have closed access to boat ramps or to waterbodies. For example, all State Parks are closed as of March 23. Some counties or cities are closing parks and other areas. Please check with the land manager where you want to go about their current access restrictions.

Is ODFW still stocking ponds and lakes with trout?

Yes. The department is still stocking ponds and lakes with trout. However, we have taken down the trout stocking schedule to reduce concentration of anglers at release sites.

Can I still go out on a charter boat or with a fishing guide?

No, according to the Oregon State Marine Board, which manages guides and charters. For more information, visit their Outfitter Guide page: https://www.oregon.gov/osmb/Pages/Guides-Charters.aspx

    Or check website of county or city for additional information about access.

    ODFW has closed salmon and steelhead fishing on the Columbia. Can I still fish for other species?

    Yes. The closure applies only to salmon and steelhead fishing on the Columbia River. Anglers are still allowed to fish for other species in the Columbia and throughout Oregon in accordance with Oregon’s 2020 Sport Fishing Regulations.

    Where can I launch my fishing boat?

    ODFW does not control boat ramps or monitor which ones are open or closed. However, the Oregon State Marine Board (OSMB) maintains an interactive map of boat ramps that shows the location of Oregon boat ramps and who owns them. OSMB advises users to contact the owners of the ramps to find out whether they are open or closed.

    Why don’t you waive fishing license fees and let kids fish while schools are closed?

    Kids 11 and younger always fish for free in Oregon. Youth ages 12-17 can purchase a license for $10 which covers many fishing and hunting opportunities. More youth fishing opportunities are available in Oregon, including youth only fishing ponds. So, while schools are out, it might be a good time to take them fishing.

    Hunter education

    Hunter Education courses have been cancelled. How can my child go hunting this year?

    ODFW intends to begin offering courses as soon as possible. Until then, youth are encouraged to take one of the online Hunter Education courses. They will need to register for and complete a hands on field day segment. A list of available classes and field days will be posted on our website when courses resume.

    Another option is the Mentored Youth Hunter Program which provides the opportunity for youth age 9-15 to experience hunting without completing a hunter education course. There are requirements to participate, including they must be accompanied by a licensed adult. 

    More information

    Where can I find accurate information about COVID-19 and fishing, hunting, shellfish and wildlife viewing in Oregon?

    There are many rumors and a lot of speculation about the impact of COVID-19 on fishing, hunting, shellfish, wildlife viewing and access to areas. ODFW recommends that people get information regarding hunting, fishing, shellfish and wildlife from official sources, including, www.MyODFW.com, Regulation Updates, and ODFW News Releases.