2014 General Election

It’s that time, again!  Campaign season is here!  Last week I attended the NCSL Early Learning Fellows Final Meeting in Minneapolis, and also worked hard to get my Voter’s Pamphlet Statement completed.  I’m very excited to announce that I have been endorsed by the following organizations:

National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB)

Oregon State Sheriff’s Association (OSSA)

Taxpayer Association of Oregon

Oregon Small Business Coalition (OSBC) 

I’m so appreciative for all your support.  We’re almost there!

House District 17 Offers Free Vision Screenings For Children 7 and Under

The Elk’s Children’s Eye Clinic, The Oregon State Elks Association, Oregon Library Association and the Oregon Lions Sight and Hearing Foundation are teaming up to offer free screenings for children. It is stated that the optimum time to have your child’s vision checked is at age 3.

The Lebanon Lions Club and Lebanon Public Library co-sponsored a free vision screening this week on Wednesday, July 30th. If you missed it, Stayton will be hosting a free screening on August 26th, and Sweet Home has a screening scheduled for September 5th. You can check out the screening calendar on the See To Read website. Although they may not be free, parents can always arrange vision screenings with an ophthalmologist at their convenience.

All the children who are screened will receive a proof-of-vision screening certificate, and any children who end the screening with point of concern will be referred to an eye-doctor for further examination.

Town Halls

Representative Sprenger has several upcoming town halls. Please join us to hear a legislative update and discuss current issues.

Lebanon Boys and Girls Club, Thursday, May 9 at 7:00 p.m. Click here for directions.

Stayton Public Library, Tuesday, May 14 at 7:00 p.m. Click here for directions.

Join Representative Sprenger for Coffee and a Conversation

State Representative Sherrie Sprenger will be holding three Coffee and Conversation events around District 17.  If you have any questions or concerns you’d like to visit with the Representative about, please plan to attend the event nearest you.

October 18, Covered Bridge Coffee House, 38765 N. Main St. Scio OR at 8:00-9:00 a.m. Click here for directions.

October 18, Cedar Shack, 4102 U.S. 20 Sweet Home, OR at 10:00-11:00 a.m. Click here for directions.

October 19, Rosie’s Mountain Coffee House, 647 N.E. Blvd., Mill City, OR at 10:00-11:00 a.m. Click here for directions.

Representative Sprenger’s district gets attention for working together on Cougar problem – Front page of the Oregonian

Kimberly A.C. Wilson at the Oregonian recently wrote an article about the Cougar issue and Rep Sprenger’s town hall. You can read a snippet below or click here to read the entire article

6 cougars killed on sheep ranch rattles neighbors, renews debate about how to handle higher numbers

Kimberly A.C. Wilson

Locals have coined a nickname this summer for Cathy Stepp’s 230-acre sheep farm in the Cascade foothills outside Corvallis: Cougar Ranch.

The new name is fitting. Since July, cougars have picked off five ewes in Stepp’s flock of 75 Suffolk/Hampshire crosses. In turn, Linn County trapper Jim Schacht tracked and killed six of the big cats on her spread. And neighbors spotted a seventh casually crossing the road near Stepp’s house.

The phenomenon prompted more than 160 of Stepp’s neighbors to pack a recent public hearing to talk about their fears.

State cougar managers say the flurry of mountain lion attacks on one Willamette Valley ranch appears to be an anomaly. The likely reasons are myriad. Experts say cougar births are cyclical and may have spiked a year or two ago. They also point to a decrease in available territories for young adult cats forced out of the nest, the forested rural landscape of Stepp’s ranch and the docile nature of the prey.

But there may be another reason for sporadic livestock slaughters of sheep and alpacas at farms in Brownsville, Pleasant Hill, Eagle Point and Junction City — simple arithmetic. Cougar numbers have doubled in the past 16 years since voters approved a ban on hunting them with dogs.

“We have more people and more cougars in the same places,” said David Williams, state director for the federal Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, which offers on-the-ground help in managing problems caused by wildlife.

The intersection of humans and cougars continues apace, Williams said. Last year, trappers killed 110 cougars for preying on livestock — two more than the yearly average. Another 31 cougars were killed for personal safety — the highest number for that reason in 10 years.

Hunters filed for nearly twice as many tags to hunt cougars last year compared to 2001 and killed 274, the third highest number since then. But complaints about cougars were down during the same period by about half to 432 last year.

Neighbors alarmed

Cougars roam in most places around Oregon except the most urbanized areas, and reports of sightings have come from places around the metro area including McMinnville and L.L. “Stub” Stewart State Park. Still, many rural residents say they’ve never seen one.

So when half a dozen struck Stepp’s sheep farm off Courtney Creek Drive, just five miles south of Oregon 228 in Brownsville, her neighbors took alarm.

“I’ve lived here all my life and I’ve never seen anything like it,” Stepp said during a break from chores.

State Rep. Sherrie Sprenger, R-Scio, organized the town hall-style meeting to give residents a forum to air their concerns about conflicts with cougars. “This has been persistent and is growing,” Sprenger said, “and I don’t want to say it’s unmanageable, but it’s overwhelming.”

Friends and neighbors in the district have told the lawmaker that they won’t walk their pastoral properties without a firearm. “Cougars are beautiful, majestic animals, but people have a right to be on their property and not be in fear,” she said.

Click here to read the entire article

Lebanon Express: Cougars are hot topic at town hall meeting

Michelle Steinhebelat the Lebanon Express recently wrote an article about Rep. Sprenger’s town hall on cougars.Click here to read the article.

Cougars are hot topic at town hall meeting
By Michelle Steinhebel

More than a 100 people packed into the Lebanon Public Library meeting room last Thursday for a town hall discussion on cougars.

The meeting, organized by Rep. Sherrie Sprenger (R-Scio), aimed at discussing the increased number of cougar sightings in Linn County.

Because the room’s occupancy allowed for only 100 people, the back doors to the library were opened and about 25 people crowded around the doors to listen in.

The meeting was sparked by recent reports of cougar sightings. A Brownsville farmer has had six cougars caught and killed on her farm over the last two months. All were killed by Linn County trapper Jim Schacht.

Sprenger facilitated the meeting. Officials from the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, Oregon State Police and U.S. Department of Agriculture were on hand to help answer audience questions.

At the beginning of the meeting, Curt Melcher, ODFW deputy director, provided some background to the legal history involving cougars.

“Back in the ’60s no one ever saw a cougar,” Melcher said. “By the ’90s we had 3,000 cougars and the state of Oregon had a tightly-controlled hunting season for cougars.” At that point, hunters were able to utilize dogs to aid in hunting cougars.

That changed when Ballot Measure 18 passed in 1994, prohibiting the use of dogs to hunt cougars.

Since the ’90s, the cougar population has doubled to an estimated 6,000, Melcher said.

According to the ODFW, as of Aug. 9, 2010, a total of 236 cougars have been killed; 94 were killed by hunters and 142 were deemed “non-hunter kills.”

Most people at the meeting viewed cougars as a nuisance and encouraged Rep. Sprenger to address the issue next legislative session.

Three spoke in favor of humans and cougars living harmoniously.

Jayne A. Miller with the Oregon Cougar Action Team told the crowd that knowledge was the best weapon in dealing with cougars.

“I grew up around cougars and have seen them all my life and I’m here today unscathed,” Miller said.

She was the first to speak up in support of living in harmony with cougars. Miller spoke up 45 minutes into the meeting.

Sprenger, who lives in Lacomb, expressed concerns about the cougar population.

“We’re not trying to vilify cougars, they are beautiful majestic animals, but I love my 13-year-old son,” Sprenger said at the meeting.

“Do you know what it’s like to come home and have that fear that a cougar is stalking you?” Teresa Neumann, of Lebanon, asked the crowd. “This is an issue people in rural areas deal with. I find it unfair that when it goes to vote people with no experience with cougars have the sway.”

Others were concerned with the county halving the budget for the Linn County trapper. Sprenger said that was a county issue and encouraged people to talk with their county commissioners.

“When six show up in one small part of the state, we have a problem,” said Coy Cowart, of Lebanon.

Sprenger stressed this was not the only opportunity for the packed house to express their concerns, welcoming all to e-mail or call her. Sprenger may be reached at the capitol at (503) 986-1417 or by e-mail .Lebanon Express