Sunday, July 26, 2015

From an abuntant alien predator to possible climate change all threaten Lake Erie's yellow perch


One study does not a consensus make.

Still, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources’ Division of Wildlife may have the opportunity to latch onto a fisheries study written by Ohio State University professor Stuart A. Ludsin as to why Lake Erie sport anglers as well as commercial fishermen continue to encounter meager catches of yellow perch.

Ludsin’s study strongly hints that the recent poor quality of Lake Erie yellow perch fishing is the result of long-term global warming.

The professor’s report is detailed today in a Page One News-Herald story written by one of its reporters, Lindsey O’Brien.

This study and Ludsin’s comments also appear online with TechTimes.com. and other Internet-based news outlets – including a July 15 Ohio State University on-line wire story, available at news.osu.edu/news/2015/07/15/yellow-perch.

It is Ludsin’s argument - and compressed into the university’s July 15 story’s lead paragraph - that “Research has suggested yellow perch grow more rapidly during the short winters from climate change, but a new study shows (that) warmer water temperatures can lead to the production of less hardy (yellow perch) eggs and larvae that have trouble surviving these early stages of life in Lake Erie.”

Thus the Ohio Department of Natural Resources’ Division of Wildlife has yet another argument – or excuse, depending on one’s point of view – that last year’s and this year’s to-date Lake Erie yellow perch fishing has skidded to the point of almost grinding to a halt.

Agency personnel have likewise said that Lake Erie yellow perch anglers are fishing in all the wrong places, hanging on to traditional perch-jerking stomping grounds instead of bouncing around, looking in different locations.

Add to that point of view is Ludsin’s assertion that Lake Erie’s abundant population of the non-native white perch is a potentially significant factor in what the fisheries biologist believes is a general and steady failing of yellow perch stocks.

In a March, 2014 Ohio Outdoor News story Ludsin is quoted as saying that between white perch, walleye, white bass - and even adult yellow perch - the latter’s offspring hardly have much of an opportunity to reach maturity.

“There are between 46 million and 106 million predators in the western basin,” Ludsin says in the Ohio Outdoor News story. “In just 24 hours they can consume between 32 million and 189 million perch larvae. That is an enormous number.”

And given that Lake Erie’s white perch constitutes 90 percent of the waterway’s aquatic predator base, the species easily is the lake’s most prolific predator; Ludsin says.

“If not enough food is available, the (yellow perch) larvae will grow slowly and be vulnerable to predator like white perch,” Ludsin adds via the Ohio State University’s most recent electronic media posting.

Similarly, says Ludsin, if white perch were absent from Lake Erie then yellow perch larvae likely would have a fighting chance.

“But having short winters leads to low-quality larvae is a big disadvantage because of the risk of getting eaten,” Ludsin says.

And now comes Ludsin’s clarion claim that climate change may be an even larger factor as to why Lake Erie sport anglers – and commercial fishermen – are struggling to find and catch fish.

“There are a lot of factors that can help explain why yellow perch numbers are low in Lake Erie,” Ludsin says. “The water winter temperatures clearly are an important one.”

Even so, Ludsin is willing to admit that fisheries biologists still do not have all the dots, let alone the line, that could link one culprit to another as to why Lake Erie’s yellow perch stocks continue to wither.

Consequently, Ludsin cautions, there is “no quick fix” as to improving Lake Erie’s yellow perch numbers.

“Yellow perch might have an inability to adjust their spawning to take advantage of those warm temperatures when they occur,” Ludsin says. “Is there something hard-wired in them, like some physiological limitation, or an effect of (water) temperature on hormones? We just don’t know.”
 
Jeffrey L. Frischkorn
 

 
 

 

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Lake Metroparks enlarges its most rugged and wild reservation


Lake Metroparks has made a heavenly addition to its 845-acre Hell Hollow Wilderness Area in Leroy Township.

Approved at its July 15 meeting the agency’s Board of Park Commissioners agreed to spend $175,000 in order to buy 43 acres of basically land-locked woodlands in Leroy Township.

The new acreage dovetails nicely with the parks system’s goal of acquiring property that is adjacent to existing holdings, says parks deputy director, Vince Urbanski, .

“It’s a fair price, especially considering that it’s been landlocked ever since Interstate 90 was made,” Urbanski said.

That highway delineates the property’s northern boundary while the existing Hell Hollow portion is to the east.

Easily one of Northeast Ohio’s most rugged and challenging properties Hell Hollow deserves the title of “Wilderness Area.”

“It’s pretty rugged so getting access there will be a challenge,” Urbanski said. “At some point we’ll look at providing access to this track and some other properties through a network of trails.”

Unique features of this new and long-coveted parcel include fronting about 2,000 feet of bank along Paine Creek.

However, since the property is located upstream of Paine Falls the opportunity for migrating steelhead to find their way to this stretch is nil, says Urbanski.

And even though the addition of the new parcel means Hell Hollow is now 888 acres strong this unit still stands in the acreage shadow of 942-acre Girdled Road Reservation in Concord Township.

So any future acquisition will prove a horse race as to which unit will claim itself as the parks system’s largest entity.

“Part of our acquisition goal is to acquire property adjacent to existing park holdings,” Urbanski said. “It’s this kind of linkage that we’re looking for.”

In other park board activity the three-member body approved spending $147,900 to build a 70-foot long by six-foot wide pedestrian bridge over a 20-foot deep chasm that will link two segments of the parks system’s ever-increasingly popular 600-acre Lake Erie Bluffs park in Perry Township.

On one side of this natural ravine barrier is 148 acres with remainder on the other side. By adding a pedestrian bridge consisting of an aluminum superstructure and a wooden deck visitors will be able to hike between the two parcels without needing to employ mountain-climbing gear.

“Construction will begin as soon as the contractor can mobilize its resources,” Urbanski said. “We anticipate that completion will be in October sometime, weather determining.”

 
By Jeffrey L. Frischkorn


Jeff is the retired News-Herald reporter who covered the earth sciences, the area's three county park systems and the outdoors for the newspaper. During his 30 years with The News-Herald Jeff was the recipient of more than 100 state, regional and national journalism awards. He also is a columnist and features writer for the Ohio Outdoor News, which is published every other week and details the outdoors happenings in the state.

 

Friday, July 17, 2015

UPDATED: Derailing the rumor mill about shutting off Ohio's field trials and shooting preserves


To tweak just a smidgeon a quote made by 18th Century author Jonathan Swift : “Rumor flies and the Truth comes limping after it.”

Only Mr. Swift’s original word was “Lie” and not “Rumor.” Come to think of it a rumor can be a lie. Or a rumor could simply be some unverified piece of information.

Problem is, the longer a rumor travels and the more people that bump into it the greater the opportunity it has of being taken as gospel.

Such is the case involving Ohio’s field trials, the ones operated by dog clubs, hunting and fishing clubs, and even my own Ashtabula County-based sportsmen’s club.

Rumor had it – said my club’s field trial devotees and organizers at a recent club function – that the Ohio Division of Wildlife not only will shut down such programs it already has.

This, because of the threat posed by a possible avian flu pandemic that could race through the state and pummel Ohio’s $2.3 billion annual poultry industry.

Due to such concern the Ohio Department of Agriculture has suspended public exhibition of such fowl as chickens and turkeys along with other diverse places that include auctions and county fairs along with the Ohio State Fair.

In connecting the dots Ohio’s field trialers have made a leap from chickens and turkeys being exhibited at 4-H-associated county fairs to barn pigeons, quail, chucker partridges and pheasants being used in hunting dog training exercises as well as organized retriever, flushing and pointing dog games.

Thing is, the people who actually have the authority to dot and dash the line from Point A to Point B and beyond have not made any such determination.

“All I can tell you right now is that we are actively working with the Ohio Department of Agriculture to clarify game bird movement requirements, and we will communicate with our stakeholders as soon as we receive the final guidance document,” said Ohio Department of Natural Resources/ Division of Wildlife spokeswoman Susan Vance.

So while, yes, there’s ambiguity as to what officially will come about there is no need to panic. That is the word also from the Ohio Department of Agriculture, says agency spokeswoman, Erica M. Hawkins.

"We're working with the Ohio Department of Natural Resources' Division of Wildlife on guidance for game bird movement, including field trials, in the state," Hawkins said. "We hope to have final recommendations to share soon; however, further details are not available at this time.
At least not just yet, anyway, so for now the rumor that field trails are a no-no is grounded.

Sam Ballou – owner of Elkhorn Lake Shooting Preserve in Bucyrus and also president of the North American Game Bird Association – says he’s “not worried too much at this point.”

“We’re working with the Division of Wildlife and the state Agriculture Department, and what probably will be done is some testing prior to any game bird movement,” Ballou said.

Ballou said as well that a sampling of his flock of pheasant – which numbers as many as 550,000 birds – is tested every 90 days. In all, Ohio has more than 400 licensed pheasant producers, Ballou said.

“As for stopping field trials, I don’t see that happening,” Ballou also said. “I’ll probably know more in two weeks.”
Jeffrey L. Frischkorn
 
Jeff is the retired News-Herald reporter who  covered the earth sciences, the area's three county park systems and the outdoors for the newspaper. During his 30 years with The News-Herald Jeff was the recipient of more than 100 state, regional and national journalism awards. He also is a columnist and features writer for the Ohio Outdoor News, which is published every other week and details the outdoors happenings in the state.

 

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Ohio htung/fishing license sales takes weather-associated hits; for residents, anyway


In spite of a record-breaking wet spring and half a summer, the sale of Ohio fishing licenses has not floundered like one would expect during a period of intense and prolonged heavy rain showers.

A hit, yes, but hardly a knock-out blow to the state’s Wildlife Fund. The same is true for the early sales of Ohio general hunting licenses and their various associated species-specific tags.

Indeed, sales of both non-resident fishing and general fishing licenses are actually up slightly when compared to the same 2014 to-date figures.

For June, 2015 alone and for Cleveland, a total of 8.52 inches of rain fell. That figure was enough to propel June 2014 as the third wettest June ever for Cleveland. The average rainfall for Cleveland is 3.43 inches.

It was even wetter in Youngstown which officially saw 9.02 inches while 8.31 inches fell in Akron during the month of June.

So with all of this rain that fell and causing rivers to flood, Lake Erie to rise and generally play havoc on when and where anglers could fish it is only natural to assume that fishing license sales would flush down and out.

In real dollar and cents terms such is not the case, though.

For the period through July 7th the Ohio Department of Natural Resources’ Division of Wildlife sold 530,763 adult resident fishing licenses. For the same period last year the figure was 563,595.

Thus the agency experienced a drop of 5.83 percent, not nice but considering how many anglers experienced rain delays and missions scrubbed because of the steady rain drum beat, a drop of less than 6 percent should be considered salvageable.

It is important to remember, however, that by early July the bulk of annual fishing licenses of all classes have reached their peak. Last year Ohio sold a total of 662,471 adult resident fishing licenses.

Down, too, were sales of resident one-day fishing licenses (off 8.60 percent), and one-day Lake Erie charter resident fishing license (off 8.25 percent.)

However, non-resident anglers continue to fish in the rain, if fishing license sales to them are any indicator.

The do-date by July 7th sales of non-resident adult fishing license was up 4.89 percent; or 30,571 this year compared to the same 2014 period with a sale of 29,147 adult non-resident fishing licenses.

Up as well have been non-resident one-day Lake Erie charter boat licenses (up 4.34 percent).

Down, however, was the sale of one-day non-resident general fishing licenses (off 5.67 percent).

In terms of hunting licenses, the poor weather may be spooking resident hunters more than it is their non-resident counterparts.

The to-date sale of Ohio adult general hunting licenses was 57,021 with its comparable 2014 figure of 58,350, or a drop of 2.28 percent.

Of course sales of Ohio hunting licenses have hardly begun. Last year Ohio issued 272,196 general adult hunting licenses, which leaves plenty of sales daylight left to play catch up.

A figure that may alarm Ohio sportsmen who believe non-residents are getting too much of a price break in terms of deer tag sales may have new ammunition as to the correctness of their opinion.

The 2015 to-date sale of Ohio resident either-sex deer tags was 943 while the comparable 2014 figure was 982, or a drop of 3.97 percent. Granted such numbers are miniscule when compared to the 2014 total of 287,750 such tags but the fact remains the trend is downward and not up.

That “up” belongs to non-resident deer hunters. Here the 2015 to-date sale of either sex tags to non-residents was 210 and compared to the 185 for the same to-date period in 2014.

Again, such paltry numbers do need a reality check since in 2014 the state sold 46,980 either-sex tags to non-residents. Even so, it can be argued that this category requires monitoring to see if a trend is developing toward non-resident deer hunters continuing to enjoy Ohio’s low-cost deer tags.

Yet in another hunting arena the sales of a particular tag type to non-residents went up while the opposite was true for Ohio resident hunters.

The sale of 2015 spring turkey tags to Ohio resident hunters was down 2.61 percent when compared to 2014. The numbers are 41,392 for this year and 42,501 for 2014.

For non-residents, the sale of spring turkey tags to them increased by 2.43 percent; or 3,628 such tags sold compared to 3,542 such permits sold in 2014.

Other noteworthy drops include the to-day sales of one-day shooting range permits – 10,454 this year with the comparable 2014 to-date sales figure of 10,916.

Also down is the 2015 to-date sale of annual shooting range permits: 7,387 and compared to the same 2014 to-date period of 7,519 permits.

 

Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

JFrischk@Ameritech.net

Jeff is the retired News-Herald reporter who covered the earth sciences, the area's three county park systems and the outdoors for the newspaper. During his 30 years with The News-Herald Jeff was the recipient of more than 100 state, regional and national journalism awards. He also is a columnist and features writer for the Ohio Outdoor News, which is published every other week and details the outdoors happenings in the state.

 

Friday, July 3, 2015

Hunting-shooting equipment tax dollars go to help build new Ohio public archery range


An infusion of more than $24,000 in federal funds has helped the Ohio Department of Natural Resources’ Division of Wildlife stay on target with a new state-of-the-art archery range.

The new range actually was dedicated in October though the U.S. Department of Interior has gotten around to announcing that it chipped in $24,084,830 toward the $138,000 Fallsville Wildlife Area Archery Range project.

Federal dollars are being channeled via the U.S. Department of Interior/U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Program as part of a reimbursement format for approved projects.

In turn this program is fueled by a federal excise tax on many pieces of shooting, hunting and fishing gear along with archery tackle.

In the Midwest alone the federal government will distribute $24 million out of a fiscal pot totaling $224 million.

Ohio’s most recent share will be the fifth most awarded to eight Midwest states, said Fish and Wildlife Service spokeswoman Joanna Gilkeson.

The Fallsville archery range complex is found within the 1,382-acre Fallsville Wildlife Area, which itself is located about seven miles north of Hillsboro and just south of the area’s headquarters off  Careytown Road in Wildlife District Five (Southwest Ohio).

Wildlife Division spokeswoman, Susan Vance says the range’s extensive archery-related amenities include 14 shooting ranges at 10, 20, 30 and 40 yards as well as one range at 50 yards, an elevated shooting platform and a broad-head pit.

“The shooting line, the parking lot all of the walkways, target paths and restrooms are mobility accessible, built in compliance with the Americans with Disability Act’s standards as well as being paved,” Vance said.

The project is just one component of the Wildlife Division’s comprehensive range development program. It was identified by the agency’s shooting range committee “as a priority based on the surrounding population, public hunting ace, and current archery range availability,” Vance said also.

 “An area has been dedicated for archers to bring their 3-D targets as well,” Vance says. “And the hours are accommodating, too: dawn to dusk with the range open every day.”

Not lost either is that the entire compound is free, Vance said as well.

“The Wildlife Division will maintain the range but we can’t thank enough all of the volunteer hours logged and reported by our volunteer hunter education instructors and conservation club volunteers,” Vance said.

 

Jeffrey L. Frischkorn


Jeff is the retired News-Herald reporter who  covered the earth sciences, the area's three county park systems and the outdoors for the newspaper. During his 30 years with The News-Herald Jeff was the recipient of more than 100 state, regional and national journalism awards. He also is a columnist and features writer for the Ohio Outdoor News, which is published every other week and details the outdoors happenings in the state.

 

Saturday, June 20, 2015

More states accepting Ohio-issued concealed carry licenses


With Texas and four other states aboard, Ohio now has concealed carry reciprocity with a total of 28 other states.

Thus, while Ohio still isn’t Number One in terms of concealed carry weapons permit reciprocity its license recognition is among the best in the country.

Credit for the swelling number of other states that accept Ohio’s issued concealed carry license is due largely to changes in the law. These changes were prompted by a recently enacted law that strengthens background check procedures, says Mike DeWine, Ohio’s attorney general and who officiates over the myriad of matters related to Ohio’s concealed carry law.

Ohio’s revamping of the state’s concealed carry law earlier this year includes mandating county sheriffs to contact the federal government’s National Instant Background Check System in order to verify that a CCW applicant “is lawfully eligible to possess a firearm in the United States,” DeWine said.

“This change allowed us to execute a concealed carry reciprocity agreement with Texas, a state which already had such standards,” DeWine said.

Besides Texas, other states recently merging with Ohio regarding concealed carry reciprocity are Colorado, Georgia, New Hampshire, and Wisconsin.

The enabling reciprocity with these four other states came into play because Ohio accepts their respective CCW license holders under the premise they are not Ohio residents and are in the state on a temporary-only basis, also said DeWine.

Currently the states which have reciprocity agreements with Ohio include the fore-mentioned five states along with Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Delaware, Florida, Idaho, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Missouri, New Mexico, North Carolina, North Dakota, Nebraska, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, and Wyoming.

Concealed carry laws are complex with a labyrinth of can-do’s and cannot-do’s. Thus a number of other states allow Ohio residents to carry concealed and even though no formal reciprocity agreement exists between the two states.

Among the states that allow non-residents to carry concealed but without an official reciprocity agreement secured are Nevada, Minnesota, and Montana.

Also, just where and when a CCW holder may carry varies so greatly from state to state that travelers are urged to first contact any state’s issuing authority.

To that end an excellent resource is the annually updated 68-page “Traveler’s Guide to the Firearm Laws of the Fifty States” and authored by Kentucky attorney J. Scott Kappas.

“Traveler’s Guide” is a thoroughly researched and comprehensively laid out  document that strives to analytically understand and then describe in layman’s terms the ever-evolving CCW permitting landscape.

This publication costs $15 and is updated each year. The 2015 edition alone contains some 75 changes and updates. For details, visit the book’s website at www.gunlawguide.com or call 859-491-6400.

 
Jeffrey L. Frischkorn
JFrischk@Ameritech.net


Jeff is the retired News-Herald reporter who  covered the earth sciences, the area's three county park systems and the outdoors for the newspaper. During his 30 years with The News-Herald Jeff was the recipient of more than 100 state, regional and national journalism awards. He also is a columnist and features writer for the Ohio Outdoor News, which is published every other week and details the outdoors happenings in the state.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Can't be picked unless you apply for an Ohio controlled deer/waterfowl hunt


Even with nearly a quarter-century years worth of preference points – plus this year’s pay-up-front $15 application entry – I still failed to draw a permit for a state of Maine moose-hunting license.

Maine holds an annual lottery for such tags, applicants choosing which district they would like to hunt, which period within the season, and whether you’d like a permit for a bull or a cow. If the sexual preference as to the tag I’d prefer is applicable, of course.

In my case I spell out my ideal choices but always check off the hail-Mary clause when asked if I would take anything, anywhere and for any moose.

Well, darn, tootin’, I note, not that it so obviously has done me any good. Fact is I once calculated, and while employing data provided by Maine’s Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife that I could be 125 years old before the odds actually favor my name being drawn.

I’ve read stories that say a Maine non-resident’s chances of drawing a Maine moose tag are anywhere from three percent to all the way up to eight percent.

Though I doubt that I’d be able to hunt moose (or much of anything else) another 60 years from now I will continue to apply for the opportunity to draw a Maine moose-hunting tag.

However the odds of being picked for one of Ohio’s managed-controlled lottery deer hunts are not seemingly much better, either. Nor do I hold my breath in anticipation when I apply for a controlled waterfowl hunt.

Applications for each are now being accepted by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources’ Division of Wildlife. And which will continue to accept said applications through July 31.

Each lottery drawing application requires a non-refundable $3 fee. For (general) adults the Wildlife Division has eight different deer hunts and five different waterfowl hunts.

The agency also has established two women-principally deer hunts, three mobility-impaired-only deer hunts, two early waterfowl season hunts, 11 youth-only deer hunts, four youth-only waterfowl hunts, three mentored youth deer hunts, and six youth mentored waterfowl hunts.

Not all of the hunts are created equal in the eyes of the odds bookie, either.

Maybe the odds of being selected for a controlled Ohio deer hunt are better than being picked for a Maine moose-hunting tag but the process is such that failure to be selected is the rule and not the exception.

A couple of 2014 adult deer hunts with the greatest odds against being selected were the Mercer Wildlife Area Archery Hunt (odds of being selected were one in 73), and the Transportation Center Adult Antlerless Deer Gun Hunt (odds of being picked were one in 111).

Okay so those two special hunts didn’t have either many slots or applicants.

Even so, the popularity of applying for a NASA Plum Brook Station deer gun hunt was enough in 2014 that many came but few were chosen. Last year 4,695 people applied for a permit to deer hut at Plum Brook though only 336 were randomly plucked by a computer. That places the odds of being selected at one in 14.

Meanwhile 2,350 people applied for an Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge deer hunt last year though just 25 were picked for odds of one in 94.

The ever-popular Ravenna Arsenal adult deer gun hunt continues to be – well – ever popular with applicants. Last year 4,798 people (the largest number for any of Ohio’s many controlled hunts) applied but only 176 folks were lucky with the odds being one in 28.

Similarly 3,546 people applied to hunt the Mosquito Creek Refuge during the statewide muzzle-loading season but a paltry 150 names were spat out by the computer. That placed selection odds of one in 24.

For adults being selected for a waterfowl hunt are really not all that good either. Last year 2,363 adults applied to hunt ducks and geese at Magee Marsh though only 192 were picked. And thus the odds were one in 13, the same odds of being selected at the adjacent Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge.

Over at the Mosquito Creek Refuge, 1,426 people applied for 120 permits with the odds of being selected in 2014 at one in 12.

The waterfowl hunts at Pickerel Creek are popular as well with 1,352 people applying for the (yikes!) 40 slots with the odds of being selected at the why-bother-applying one in 34.

Alas, the growth of youth hunting, women hunting and even hunting by folks with some form of serious mobility issues also has led to long odds of being picked.

For example, 244 women applied to hunt during the Killdeer Plains deer hunt established for them though just 18 females were picked. That placed the odds of being selected at one in 14.

And for the youth deer gun hunt at the Wildlife Division’s Hebron Hatchery, 107 youngsters applied but only two were selected. Thus the odds of being picked were one in 54.

Still, unless one applies one can never win. This is why I’ll go through the list of Ohio’s select, controlled deer and waterfowl hunts and then decide which ones I want to drop $3 in order to apply for a permit. And pretty much full-well knowing that I won’t be picked for any of them, of course.

Then again, come next February I’ll get a notification from Maine that it’s time to apply for that state’s annual moose tag lottery. And without hesitation I’ll send a check for $15 to that state’s treasurer.

Such is the stuff that dreams are made of.

For further information about Ohio’s deer and waterfowl hunting lottery program, review what is available and electronically enter an application, visit the Ohio Division of Wildlife’s web site at www.wildohio.gov.

Persons may also call 800-945-3543 in order to be provided with a paper application.

 
Jeffrey L. Frischkorn
JFrischk@Ameritech.net

 Jeff is the retired News-Herald reporter who  covered the earth sciences, the area's three county park systems and the outdoors for the newspaper. During his 30 years with The News-Herald Jeff was the recipient of more than 100 state, regional and national journalism awards. He also is a columnist and features writer for the Ohio Outdoor News, which is published every other week and details the outdoors happenings in the state.