Saturday, May 27, 2017

Army Corps gets millions for Lake Erie harbor projects

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has slated some additional high-dollar projects along the Lake Erie and Lake Ontario shorelines, including five for Ohio’s share of the former’s lakefront.

These 13 projects fall within the Corps’ Buffalo District and span three states: Ohio, Pennsylvania and Ohio.

All of the items are additions to the Corps’ Fiscal Year 2017 budget with the added items totaling $24.83 million. The money was earmarked in the just-passed federal Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2017, said Corps Buffalo District spokesman Andrew A. Kornacki.

The most expensive project on the 13-item list is the $4.9 million slated for work at New York’sOsweago Harbor on Lake Ontario. Work on Pennsylvania’s popular Presque Isle will involve beach enrichment and will cost $1.5 million.

 Ohio’s five slated projects total $12,460,000 – more than for either of the other two states. Broken down, said Kornacki, the projects are:

·         $1.8 million for dredging the Cleveland Harbor.

·         $3 million for the construction and east breakwater end section repair of Conneaut Harbor (the second most costly Corps Buffalo District project).

·         $2.9 million for repair of Lorain Harbor’s outer breakwater.

·         $740,000 for dredging of the Toussaint River Harbor.
        *     $1,020,000 for dredging of the West Harbor near Port Clinton.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Friday, May 26, 2017

Cookouts can be deadly for dogs and expensive for pet owners

Now that we are at the shotgun start of the summer vacationing season and the Memorial Day weekend marks the unofficial kick-off to outdoor cooking, it is a good time to reexamine the risk of such fine culinary dining by our pets.

However – just as humans can’t take a drink from a lake or want to dip a glass into a toilet bowl - there are foods that are highly toxic to dogs but which we humans relish with no more risk than maybe an eventual need for an anti-acid.

Enter pancreatitis in canines; a condition caused by overeating or swallowing a foreign object.

Healthy Paws Pet Insurance - a pet insurance provider for dogs and cats – says that last year it saw more than 1,300 claims related to pancreatitis last year. That is in addition to more than 5,600 claims the insurer says it received for so-named “foreign body obstruction.

This title stems from a pet eating something it’s not supposed to eat, such as socks, rocks or other. In fact, in one case a basset hound needed surgery after sneaking a corn cob from the family dinner. The required surgery generated a staggering $5,870 vet bill.

To help keep your furry family members happy and healthy this holiday weekend, Healthy Paws has compiled a list of BBQ dos and don’ts:

So what is okay for your dog to eat and which can help avoid an expensive holiday trip to an emergency veterinarian clinic? Healthy Paws says:

•  Burgers: Hamburger meat makes a great high-value treat if it’s plain. But burgers that are too greasy or cooked with garlic, onions, spices and seasonings are a no-go: your dog can get sick with vomiting or diarrhea.

•  Hot Dogs: If the hot dog’s ingredients are strictly high-quality meats, you’re safe. Toss the buns as Healthy Paws says “they are empty calories.”

•   Seafood: Seafood like salmon is usually safe for dogs if it’s cleared of miniscule bones and isn’t cooked in garlic or onions. If it comes in a shell, remove it (clams, oysters, lobsters, etc.).

Just as importantly, here is Healthy Paws’ list of forbidden foods:

•  Pasta salad, potato salad, potato chips. While potatoes are common ingredients in dog food, potato and pasta salads are often made with no-no’s like garlic and onions, and potato chips are coated in salt, which isn’t good for dogs.

•  Beer: Dogs just can’t process it.

• Desserts and ice cream: Canines can be lactose-intolerant, and ice cream is full of sugar. While naturally occurring sugars aren’t bad, the added sugars in pies and cakes can lead to health problems. Same with sugar-free desserts – most artificial sweeteners may cause diarrhea, and sugar substitute are actually poisonous to pups.

For further information about pet wellness, check out Healthy Paws’ Cost of Care report<>.

By Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Pennslvania sees huge spike of CWD infection in its wild deer

Chronic wasting disease - CWD – in wild deer has yet to materialize in Ohio but the insidious and always fatal ailment is knocking on the state’s door.

The Pennsylvania Game Commission has reported that last year the agency’s scientists found 25 cases of the disease in that state’s so-named “Disease Management Area Number Two.” This expansive zone comprises parts of Bedford, Blair, Somerset, Fulton, Cambria, and Huntingdon counties; all of which pretty much are in south-central Pennsylvania.

Since 2012 the Game Commission has noted 47 deer tested positive for the disease; again, 25 of which were seen in 2016 alone.

The Game Commission says it collects samples from hunter-harvested deer, road-killed deer, escaped captive cervids, and any cervid displaying CWD-like symptoms.

The 25 new CWD-positive wild deer were part of 1,652 deer samples collected within DMA 2 during 2016. CWD-positive deer included 13 road-killed deer, 10 hunter-harvested deer, and two deer showing signs consistent with CWD.


In all last year the Game Commission tested 5,707 deer and 110 elk for Chronic Wasting Disease.


Also, since 2002, the Game Commission has tested over 61,000 deer for CWD. And although samples are collected from across the state, efforts were increased within three declared Disease Management Areas (DMAs). It is in these geographically designated areas of Pennsylvania which are areas in the state where CWD has been identified in wild and/or captive deer.


These areas include: DMA 1 in parts of Adams and York counties in which CWD was identified on a captive deer farm in 2012; DMA 2 in parts of Bedford, Blair, Somerset, Fulton, Cambria, and Huntingdon counties where CWD has been identified in multiple wild deer since 2012 and recently on three captive deer facilities; and DMA 3 in Jefferson and Clearfield counties where CWD was detected on two captive deer facilities in 2014.


Ohio has thus far been spared the CWD-sniper bullet, at least in so far as wild deer are concerned. Only a small portion of the state in Holmes County is under a somewhat CWD quarantine, resulting from infected animals being discovered in 2014 in a captive herd owned by a hunting preserve.


Since 2002 the Ohio departments of Agriculture and Natural Resources have jointly worked on CWD containment protocols that include restrictions on such things as baiting. All in an effort to keep CWD from jumping into the state’s wild deer herd.


To date more than 11,000 wild Ohio deer have been sampled but no CWD yet has been seen in this wild herd of animals.
- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Emerald shiner drought expected to continue for Lake Erie

Lake Erie emerald shiners likely will be worth more than their weight in golden shiners again this year – and fisheries biologists lake-wide do not have a good handle as to why a dearth of them exists either.

Indeed, biologists who intently study Lake Erie’s fisheries are not even sure of the scope of the emerald shiner population decline anymore than they do the “why.”

“I’ll be up front about it; I know very little about emerald shiner biology,” said Travis Hartman, head of the Ohio Division of Wildlife’s Sandusky Fisheries Research Station.

It would appear that no one else does, either; beyond a general acknowledgement that emerald shiner stocks are down lake-wide. This means that Lake Erie’s yellow perch anglers – especially those in Lake Erie’s Central Basin – are compelled to look to commercially raised golden shiners, a commodity that many fishers claim is an inferior substitute for emerald shiners.

“A New York perch fisherman will tell you the same thing,” said also Donald Einhouse, Lake Erie fisheries manager for the New York State Environmental Conservation agency.

Perhaps adding fuel to the fire is New York State’s so-called “transportation corridor.” This rule allows emerald shiners taken north of Interstate 90 (the New York Turnpike) to be used but only within that region. And while an outright prohibition on interstate exportation does not exist, Einhouse said that to do so would require meeting the requirements of any transportation corridor established by both Pennsylvania and Ohio.

And that insistence would almost surely set up a red-tape conundrum for a bait dealer who works on a slim margin of profit as it is.

Generally not well known, too, is that at one time many of the emerald shiners sold in bait stores along Ohio’s share of the Lake Erie shoreline originated from New York’s Upper Niagara River and Buffalo Harbor.

 In further explanation as to the situation, New York’s transportation corridor application came about when the fish virus VHS(viral hemorrhagic septicemia) was first detected in Lake Erie more than 10 years ago. The concern centered on how transporting Lake Erie baitfish posed a potential threat to fish stocks beyond the basin. The federal government lifted its edict around 2007; this, following the implementation of state-regulated transportation corridors.

However, the downturn in the status of Lake Erie’s emerald shiner population is only aggravating the exportation-transportation situation.

“Unfortunately we have to talk in generalities because we don’t index emerald shiners,” Hartman said. “(Emerald shiners) sort of fall through the cracks.”

Hartman did say that during some fish survey work does suggest that emerald shiner populations are not what they were a few years ago. Among the studies are sampling the stomachs of Lake Erie predator fish. Among them are yellow perch, walleye and smallmouth bass.

Results of these efforts point to these named predatory fish species eating fewer emerald shiners. Instead, Hartman says, Lake Erie’s upper tier predators are feeding on something other emerald shiners.

“They are adjusting and adapting,” Hartman said.

Consequently, Hartman says he’s not particularly worried; not when a walleye or a yellow perch has an abundance of other prey available to it for sustenance.

“I’d be more concerned if we saw a problem with the predator base but we are not noticing it at a level where emerald shiners are on the way out,” Hartman said. “It’s good that Lake Erie has other prey for fish like walleye and perch to feed on.”

Besides, Hartman said, even trying to get a handle on Lake Erie’s emerald shiners would be no small task. The species prefers open water and typically suspend in the water column.

“That makes emerald shiners tough to assess,” Hartman said.

Tough, yes, agrees Einhouse, who explained that his state’s take is the same as that of Ohio’s; expanding how the emerald shiner population’s downturn has extended for at least “two years.”

“So far this year it has not been difficult for people to collect emerald shiners, but that can change very quickly,” Einhouse said as well.

Yet it’s also been a considerable challenge for Pennsylvania bait stores to stock the popular yellow perch bait, says Darl Black, a Pennsylvania outdoors writer who writes an exhaustive weekly fishing report for that state’s northwest region. Featured in Black’s report are extensive outtakes gleaned from Erie-area bait dealers and anglers.

“Barely (an emerald shiner) is showing up in shallow waters in Pennsylvania or in Presque Isle Bay; bait shops have none,” Black said.

What is needed then is for some favorable environmental factor to kick in and reboot Lake Erie’s emerald shiner stocks – whatever those factors may be, Hartman says as well.

Besides, it’s not like the emerald shiner population has crashed; not enough that some licensed bait dealers cannot find the minnows at all, Hartman said.

“Clearly there are people who are finding them,” Hartman said. “(And) all it would take is one good hatch for the emerald shiner population to rebound.”

Until then, Lake Erie yellow perch anglers will need to buy golden shiners or net their own emeralds now and preserve them for use later in the fishing season.

Just remember, Hartman says, that Ohio law stipulates that if you keep 500 or more live emerald shiners in some fashion you must have an annual $40bait dealer’s license. That license is likewise required of charter captains if they separately charge their clients for the baitfish, Hartman said.
- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Ohio Natural Resources still interested in at least a portion of AEP Recreation lands

Understanding that it can’t buy the entire AEP coal lands pie the Ohio Division of Wildlife would at least like to obtain a sizable slice.

However, the agency is strapped enough for cash that purchasing even a few crumbs of the 60,000-acre popular outdoors recreational territory in southeast Ohio may prove daunting.

Even so, the Wildlife Division still intends to pursue buying a portion of the property from the private coal-mining/electrical power generating American Electric Power (AEP) company.

AEP has stated it wants to sell off the area in large parcels. This has generated heat of its own, along with heartburn for Wildlife Division officials.

The acreage consists of a huge chuck on land, expanding over several southeast Ohio counties and is comprised of several designated wildlife areas.  These properties are enormously popular with outdoors enthusiasts of all stripes; from campers to anglers to hunters to birders to hikers.

An effort in January to work out a deal for buying several thousand acres in a “core” section of the area failed to produce an agreement, says Ray Petering, chief of the Wildlife Division.

“We’re trying to find federal dollars which seems to have helped in AEP not selling off everything so quickly,” Petering said recently to a group of outdoors writers.

Petering also said that whatever the agency can pick up it won’t be a paltry size piece of real estate, either. Rather, any purchase would run in “several thousand acres” and not several hundred, Petering says.

“We’ve told AEP that we’re in for something,” Petering said. “The door and lines of communication are still open.”

Petering said too that his agency is most interested in acquiring land found within a core segment of the current boundaries. And any buy should include as much water-associated property as possible along with good habitat or at least property that could be developed for good wildlife habitat, Petering says.

Petering said too that any deal would almost certainly require as many as four years to complete.

“We should get something, which is better than nothing,” Petering said.

Even so, that something will require money. And given that an initial assessment paints AEP property as costing $2,000 per acre, any land-buying agreement would require a huge cash outlay.

Complicating any prospective purchase is that acreage where so-called “shallow coal” exists would be valued even higher. It is here where mineral – coal – extraction is easiest; thus, less expensive to mine and consequently more desirable to any likely commercial suitor, Petering says.

This is why the Wildlife Division is looking to partner with major national land-conservation groups and others in providing financial assistance.

And it is here where the subject of potential resident hunting and fishing license fee increases enters the picture. With fewer available dollars now hanging out in the Wildlife Fund there exists a lessened financial opportunity for the Wildlife Division to salvage what it can of the AEP property, Petering acknowledged.

“We will do what we can with what we have,” Petering said.

As for the parent Ohio Department of Natural Resources, that entity stands behind the Wildlife Division in securing AEP property while still opposing license fee increases for Ohio resident hunters and anglers.

“We do support Wildlife with regards to AEP,” said Gary Obermiller, a Natural Resources Department assistant director. “We wanted to buy the entire 60,000 acres but AEP didn’t want to go with that.”

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Friday, May 12, 2017

New Northeast Ohio spring turkey zone sees okay first week kill

By Jeffrey L. Frischkorn
This is going to be an easy and quick one.

With Ohio’s 88 counties divided into two spring wild turkey-hunting season zones the five extreme Northeast Ohio counties got tucked away into a separate unit. This, because they are the state’s Snow Belt counties which often are way behind weather-wise than are their 83 sibling counties.

Unfortunately the first week for these counties was marked by cold, wind and lots of rain. Lots and lots of rain at times. Never-the-less birds were killed. Thus, here are the first week numbers for the NE turkey zone county harvests.

NE Zone County

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Ohio Natural Resources official blasts license fee increase proponents

Obviously nervous – even apprehensive and testy – Ohio Department of Natural Resources assistant director Gary Obermiller told a group of outdoors journalists May 6th that he “wasn’t even sure he should come.”

That uncertainty arrived while addressing attendees of the Outdoor Writers of Ohio’s annual conference, held in Summit County’s Hudson.

Obermiller’s remarks were delivered during a presentation at the Ohio Division of Wildlife’s District Three (Northeast Ohio) Office in nearby Akron. They came on the heels of a recent vocal cacophony delivered by various sportsmen and conservation groups, former Wildlife Division officials and others, all of whom are requesting Departmental backing for increases to resident fishing and hunting license fees.

The Natural Resources Department all ready has stated that it backs increases in non-resident license fees, particularly for non-resident deer hunters.

However, a gap in agreement for raises for residents hunters and anglers exists between the Natural  Resources Department and at least 32 state and national sportsmen and conservation groups. And that gap is both a wide and a very deep chasm, too.

Obermiller attempted to defuse the difference though at times he seemed to stir the caldron even further; in one instance lambasting six of the Wildlife Division’s immediate past living chiefs for publically supporting resident license fee increases.

In effect, Obermiller said, the now-retired slate of former Wildlife Division chiefs lacked in championing via their joint communiqué the fee increase proposal since license sales not only stagnated during their respective watches, but declined.

“Sometimes by double digits,” Obermiller said, who then hastily added “(But) I’m not blaming them.”

Obermiller also says that a culture unique to the Wildlife Division exists and is one that has not always been helpful – an oft-times stated position in the media and by bystanders who regularly observe the agency.

Yet that culture seems to have soured, say some within the Wildlife Division who are fearful of expressing themselves publically.

“The Division of Wildlife has always operated at a distance (from the Natural Resources Department) more than any other division,” Obermiller said, adding that both the Natural Resources Department and the Wildlife Division have “always had morale problems.”

As for the nearly three dozen groups now supporting increases to resident angler and hunter license fees, Obermiller dismissed their joint assembly on the issue out of hand. He even questioned whether the various groups – including Ducks Unlimited, the National Wild Turkey Federation, the Columbus-based Sportsman’s Alliance and others – had polled their membership regarding resident license fee increases or whether the decision came just from the groups’ “leadership.”

“And what about the sportsmen who don’t belong to these groups; do they agree or disagree with a license fee increase?” Obermiller rhetorically asked. “I don’t know.”

When pressed that such a stand is similar to the tactic employed by various anti-Second Amendment organizations against the National Rifle Association and other pro-gun lobbying efforts, Obermiller angrily denied such an analogy.

“Any (license fee increase) should be a last resort,” Obermiller said also. “Just to say you’re operating on 2003 dollars is not enough.”

Asked, however, just how many organized groups have publically stated their support for the Natural Resources Department’s position, Obermiller said it is not the agency’s “job go out and garner support.”

Along those lines Obermiller seemed to have ignited the spark that has generated the Natural Resources Department’s main thrust against resident hunting and fishing license fee increases.

It is the Department’s position, said Obermiller, that not only did the fee increase proponents catch the agency’s off guard as to the request for the hikes but that they failed to explain in any detail exactly where the additional revenue would be spent.

Similarly Obermiller said he is unsure of exactly how many commissioned officers the Wildlife Division is lacking – including officers assigned to counties, and whether the agency even needs money for additional land acquisition.

“I don’t have a good handle on that,” Obermiller said.

To illustrate the Department’s unwavering support for the Wildlife Division, Obermiller also not only reiterated but emphasized that the Natural Resources Department has absolutely no intent nor desire to create a unified law enforcement command that would enfold the Wildlife Division’s commissioned officers with Park rangers, Forestry agents, and Watercraft officers.

“I can’t make it any clearer: ‘We are not going down that road,’” Obermiller said.

And the Department has championed the goal of the Wildlife Division to seek ownership of at least some of the AEP land in southeast Ohio – an extremely popular public hunting and fishing area owned by a private mineral extraction company who is poised to sell off thousands of acres of land.

 “We have no interest in the Wildlife Division struggling or failing,” Obermiller said. “To think otherwise is ridiculous. I can’t recall any time when Wildlife didn’t come to us that we haven’t helped.”

Besides, said Obermiller, perhaps a non-resident fee increase might prove ample in solving any fiscal problems that the Wildlife Division may be encountering now or may encounter in the short or long term.

However, the future of the Wildlife Division’s District One (Central Ohio) office does remain on the table Obermiller says.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn