Friday, September 15, 2017

Ohio anti-puppy mill proposal moves forward; impact on bird dog breeding unknown

A big hurdle has been surmounted regarding an Ohio constitutional amendment affecting the business of breeding dogs.

Called the “Ohio Puppy Prevention Amendment,” the initiative petition was certified by the Ohio Attorney General as having met certain legal criteria. This criteria contained both the necessary 1,000 valid signatures from registered Ohio voters and a “fair and truthful” summary of the proposal, said Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine.

By accepting the filing from attorneys representing “Stop Puppy Mills Ohio,” the Ohio Attorney General has green-lighted the next step, which will mean petitioners have their work cut out for them. They will have to meet various voter signature-gathering requirements in order to place their agenda before Ohio’s voters, likely in 2018. That is the target date the “Stop” group states on its web site.

Ohio has often been cited by animal rights organizations as being a hotbed of of the so-called “puppy mill” business, defined in a 1984 Minnesota court case as “a dog breeding operation in which the health of the dogs is disregarded in order to maintain a low overhead and maximize profits.”

It is estimated by some animal rights groups that as many as 10,000 licensed and unlicensed puppy mills produce about two million canines annually in the United States with a 2004 estimate of 4,000 dogs born in Ohio.

However, calls in the past for crackdowns on the so called “puppy mill” issue has met some resistance from legitimate bird-dog and houndsman enthusiasts. They fear that a too broadly written law could very well hurt their small and specialized operations that typically involve only one or a few pure-bred female dogs.

As for his duties as Attorney General in regards to this petition, DeWine says:

Without passing upon the advisability of the approval or rejection of the measure to be referred, but pursuant to the duties imposed upon the Attorney General’s Office I hereby certify that the summary is a fair and truthful statement of the proposed law.”

DeWine said also that once the summary language and initial signatures are certified, the Ohio Ballot Board must determine if the amendment contains a signle issue or multiple issues.

That requirement is vital. The reason being is that petitioners must then collect signatures for each issue from registered voters in each of 44 of Ohio’s 88 counties, equal to five percent of the total vote in the county for the office of governor during the immediately previous gubernatorial election.

Total signatures collected statewide must also equal 10 percent of the total vote cast for the office of governor at the last gubernatorial election, DeWine said.

In other words, more than 305,000 signatures will be needed.

The petitioner’s summary is lengthy and detailed. They also claim that the proposed ballot language will exempt so-called “hobbyist breeders.” This term is defined by the petitioners as keeping seven or fewer unspayed female dogs.

Also exempt are those persons who sell 15 or fewer dogs in the state each year.

However, the requirements as stipulated for the generic term “puppy mill” are rigorous. They include defining the parameters of care, how often dogs are to be fed, continuous access to potable water that is “free of contaminants,” access to veterinarian care, sheltering, exercise, and “socialization.”

It even states how many times a “puppy mill”-eligible female dog can be breed: no more than twice in any 18-month period and no more than six times in a female dog’s lifetime.

Many of the demands are quite specific and includes where dogs can be sold. They include animal shelters, animal rescue centers, legally defined hobbyist breeders, and those commercial breeders who are compliant with the proposed Ohio constitutional amendment, should it ultimately be placed on a near future ballot and after it has met all of the initiative petition requirements.

The full text of today’s letter and the amendment petition submitted by the attorneys for “Stop Puppy Mills Ohio” can be found at

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Ohio commercial fishing ban efforts likely to continue in spite of good walleye, perch hatches

Near average hatches of both walleye and yellow perch in Lake Erie's Western Basin will continue to top off the angling tanks of fishers in that end of the lake.

Whether such good hatches will spill over into the Central Basin remains to be seen, though at least for the more migratory walleye, that chance is pretty much a given.

For yellow perch the question is more problematic.

That being said, efforts are underway from Lorain east to the Pennsylvania line to work toward ensuring that recreational perch anglers will find less interference from Ohio's small commercial fishing trap-netting fleet.

More than just talk is beginning to bubble and brew over still-developing plans to eliminate commercial fishing altogether in Ohio's share of Lake Erie. Whether that effort means working towards buying out the commercial fishermen or legislatively banning such activity is still undetermined.

However, meetings have been held in the Central Basin between sport angling activists, state legislators and others to get a move on in ridding Lake Erie of all commercial fishing. Or much more specifically, commercial fishing in Ohio's share of Lake Erie.

Until details are released by proponents of tighter restrictions on commercial fisherman or an outright ban is instituted, Ohio recreational anglers must satisfy themselves knowing that Lake Erie walleye and yellow perch stocks are both doing exceptionally well.

Here, then, is the Ohio Division of Wildlife's official take on this year's walleye and yellow perch hatch in the Lake's Western Basin:

"Each year in August, wildlife agencies from around the western basin of Lake Erie sample the waters using bottom trawls in search of young of the year walleye and yellow perch. Data from these bottom trawls are combined into a basin-wide index, and fisheries biologists compare the figures to previous years to estimate the success of the walleye and yellow perch hatches.

"Biologists from the ODNR Division of Wildlife conducted bottom trawling surveys at nearly 40 sampling locations across Ohio waters of the western basin. This information provide biologists with an estimate of how many young fish will enter the fishable population two years later.

"Based upon results from the August trawl surveys, the 2017 yellow perch hatch was successful in Ohio waters of the western basin. Initial results found 280 yellow perch per hectare compared to the 20-year average of 300 yellow perch per hectare. Five good yellow perch hatches in a row should help the perch population in the western basin continue to rebuild and lead to quality yellow perch fishing over the next several years.

"The 2017 walleye hatch was near the 20-year average in Ohio waters of the western basin. Average to excellent hatches from three of the past four years have resulted in an abundance of young walleye to complement the older and larger fish that make up the current Lake Erie walleye population. Results from Ohio’s surveys found 21 walleye per hectare. The average since 1998 is 22 walleye per hectare.

"During the upcoming months, Ohio and Ontario bottom trawl data will be combined to estimate the basin-wide hatches of walleye and yellow perch. These estimates will be used as part of the annual process to determine jurisdictional quotas.

"Information on the ODNR Division of Wildlife’s Lake Erie research and management programs, fisheries resources, fishing reports, and maps and links to other Lake Erie web resources are available at"

- By Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Monday, September 11, 2017

Birders excited that Hurricane Irma's track may shuttle rare bird species to the area

Ohio’s birding community is preparing to make lemonade out of the lemons still tossed about by Hurricane Irma and its aftermath.

With at-one-time a powerful Category Five storm, Hurricane Irma crashed through the Caribbean, swept up the west coast of Florida and is now headed toward the Tennessee River Valley with its remnants possibly to likely invading the Ohio River Valley.

It is what Hurricane Irma is carrying that is intriguing Ohio’s birding community: bird species seldom or even rarely encountered in the state.

“It’s unfortunate that the hurricane happened but birders are prepared to take advantage of potential sightings,” said John Pogacnik, Lake Metroparks’ biologist and an avid birder.

“Hurricane Harvey never did much and it didn’t bring anything into Ohio because it sort of died out,” Pogacnik said.

What makes Irma so different is the anticipated hook the storm’s remnants are anticipated to take; a route that is projected to move north-northwest and then swing northeast.

When freed of the winds and the resulting entrapment, the birds are going to work to find a place to rest their weary wings. This potential appearance of uncommonly to rarely seen bird species could began as soon as the end of this week, Pogacnik says.

Pogacnik says too that sea birds and shorebirds in particular are likely to be Hurricane Irma’s hitchhikers. Among these potential avian visitors are laughing gulls, magnificent frigate birds, and shearwaters.

“These birds may very well have been trapped inside the eye of the hurricane for days, and they could end up along Lake Erie or some of our inland lakes” Pogacnik said. “We also could see some rare terns showing up, too, but it’s all possible. It could be some good stuff.”

Even so, Pogacnik says whatever arrives may stick around for only a day or two and then depart in an effort to return to places the bird is more familiar with in the way of suitable habitat.

However, not all of any arriving refugee bird may make it back home alive, Pogacnik says.

“Some of these bird species can live only in a salt-water environment, and we could see that these birds have died; it’s happened before,” Pogacnik said. “It could go bad for some species.”

As for what Hurricane Irma and its residuals might mean to migrating birds – which have begun their seasonal trek south – Pogacnik says the recent weather events could delay but will not stop, that travel.

Yet whatever happens the birding community is ready, and its spy-glassing citizens are primed to take quick action when news via the Internet appears quicker than a carrier pigeon, Pogachik says.

Among the sites that Ohio birders will find themselves monitoring include the North American Rare Bird Alert (,,, and

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Friday, September 8, 2017

With Irma's eye on Forida, this is what the Coast Guard expended on Harvey

NEW ORLEANS -- The Coast Guard has completed search and rescue operations in response to Hurricane Harvey but continues to work alongside the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and other federal, state and local partners to address pollution concerns as a result of the storm.

During their response to Hurricane Harvey, Coast Guard men and women rescued 11,022 people and 1,384 pets.

Involved in the Coast Guard response were:

• 2,060 active duty, Reserve, civil servant and Auxiliary personnel from as far away as Guam, Alaska and Hawaii
• 50 rotary and fixed-wing aircraft
• 75 shallow-water boats
• 29 cutters

Of the 2,519 Coast Guard members who live in the impacted areas in Texas, 51 suffered catastrophic property loss and 124 others reported property damage. Most of the members who experienced these losses were heavily involved in response efforts despite the personal challenges they faced.

“The Coast Guard’s response to Hurricane Harvey is one of the largest our organization has seen in decades, and men and women from the furthest reaches of our service answered the call to assist others in their time of need,” said Rear Adm. Paul Thomas, commander of the Coast Guard 8th District.

“I’m incredibly proud and humbled by the resiliency of our first responders who were deeply impacted but continued to work around the clock to save more than 11,000 people in a matter of days.”

All commercial ports in Texas have reopened, and Coast Guard captains of the port for the Corpus Christi and Houston-Galveston captain of the port zones are continuing to evaluate and reassess port restrictions.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Hurricane Harvey rumor mill bears watching; alerting impacting family members

You can take it to the bank that rumors and false alarms will surely follow natural disasters faster than a tornado, be more powerful than a magnitude 8 earthquake, and sink deeper than flood waters.

Hurricane Harvey is no different. Here is the response from the U.S. Coast Guard and FEMA on rumors spreading through the Houston area. Anyone with family there should alert their relations to be on the alert for scams and rumors.

Hurricane Harvey rumor control

Posted by LaDonna Davis, Thursday, August 31, 2017
There are a lot of rumors floating around the internet in the wake of Hurricane Harvey.
Unfortunately, there are also many scams out there trying to take advantage of  people’s good will during this massive flood event. FEMA has put together a rumor control website to fact check many of the rumors and keep the public informed of what’s true, what’s false and how to tell the difference.

Rumor: There are reports of a flyer titled FEMA Field Inspectors needed ASAP and states
Earn $4-5K per week call (214) 284-XXXX between the hours of 9:00am – 11:00am up to August 31, 2017.
This report is TRUE. (August 29/Updated 8/30).
FEMA is hiring field inspectors under a pre-existing contract to assist with surge capacity of field inspections.

Rumor: There are reports stating FEMA is looking to employ 1,000 people offering to pay $2,000/week for 90 days and the phone number to call is 888-776-XXXX.
This report is FALSE. (August 29/Updated 8/30)
Learn more about official FEMA job opportunities to help with the response and review a list of trusted non-profit organizations who are active in disaster response.

Rumor: There are reports of people impersonating Homeland Security Investigations (HSI)
special agents in Texas.
This report is TRUE. (August 29).
Real Homeland Security Investigations officials wear badges labeled “special agent,” which members of the public can ask to see and verify. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers with Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO)also wear badges labeled with ERO Officer. They also carry credentials with their name and organization. Members of the public who receive such visitors should ask to see these properly labeled badges, and their credentials.
In addition, these officers and special agents would be conducting hurricane relief operations with other local law enforcement agencies. Also note that during Hurricane Harvey relief efforts,
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement is not conducting immigration enforcement operations in the affected area.
To report suspicious activity or individuals you believe are impersonating ICE officials, members of the public should immediately contact ICE toll free at 866-347-2423.

Rumor: There are rumors undocumented immigrants cannot go to a shelter because they will be reported to ICE or CBP.
This rumor is FALSE. (August 27)
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) have stated that they are not conducting immigration enforcement at relief sites such as shelters or food banks. In the rare instance where local law enforcement informs ICE of a serious criminal alien at a relief site that presents a public safety threat, ICE will make a determination on a case-by-case basis about the appropriate enforcement actions.
More information is available at U.S. Customs and Border Protection and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) joint statement. The Federal Government strongly encourages all persons to follow the guidance of local officials and seek shelter regardless of their immigration status.
Most shelters are managed by local communities, the Red Cross, and other voluntary agencies. American Red Cross’ humanitarian mission is to feed, shelter, and provide other forms of support without regard to race, religion, or citizenship status.
The Red Cross will not ask people to show any form of identification in order to stay in their shelters. In order to receive some Red Cross services, such as meeting with a caseworker to facilitate disaster recovery, they will need to verify a person’s pre-disaster address. For people who don’t have government-issued identification, the Red Cross can usually do this through alternative means, such as a copy of a utility bill.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Coast Guard remains on the front line in Harvey search and rescue operations

While Ohio has not directly sent anyone yet to the Houston area the U.S. Coast Guard
has been very busy there, working with local, state and other federal governmental
agencies as well as such civilian assets as the “Cajun Navy” to offer aid and perform rescue operations.

This is the latest from the Coast Guard:

The Coast Guard Flood Punt Teams rescued more than 940 people in the
greater Houston Metro Area, Wednesday.
"We are assessing the needs of the community around-the-clock and strategically placing
our punt teams in the best place to assist,” said Petty Officer 3rd Class Stephanie Tindall,
marine science technician at Coast Guard Sector Houston-Galveston. “We have been working
closely with partnered agencies to ensure an effective and efficient response effort." 
The Coast Guard has deployed assets and resources from across the country to create
a sustainable response force. 
Currently, there are 33 Coast Guard helicopters and nine Coast Guard Flood Punt Teams,
with 12 shallow-draft vessels, capable of operating in flooded urban areas.
Coast Guard has rescued more than 4,500 people and more than 113 pets.

By Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Coast Guard's diversion to Houston not hampering its role on Great Lakes

Driving a stake into Hurricane Harvey’s heart has proven problematic with the storm expected to spread misery into Ohio – just in time for the Labor Day weekend.

And thus also for the start of Ohio’s early Canada goose-only hunting season, which opens September 2nd; Saturday.

Certainly a missed goose season opener pales in comparison to what the Houston area is undergoing right and what the bayou country of lowland Louisiana will encounter over the next couple of days.

As it stands, only two of Texas’s six ports are open: Brownsville and Port Arthur. Closed still are Galveston, Freeport, Houston, Corpus Christi, and Victoria, reports the U.S. Coast Guard. In Coast Guard parlance, these ports are under what the agency calls “Zulu Status.”

The Guard has been pulling assets from all over to help in the search and rescue as well as recovery efforts in Houston and the surrounding area – an area larger than some New England states.

Responders have encountered an overwhelming need for evacuations and
search and rescue operations. The response to Harvey is drawing upon Coast Guard assets
throughout the United States,” said the Guard’s Ninth District (Great Lakes Region)
headquarters in Cleveland.
In the Great Lakes, this will mean that some seasonally operated units will
suspend their operations at least one week earlier than anticipated.”
In terms of Coast Guard assets diverted to the Houston area, the service reports
that more than 2,000 of its personal are working there along with 20 helicopters
and one airplane (about one-tenth of the service’s aviation fleet), and 20 marine vessels.
Since beginning its assistance in the Houston area, Coast Guard personnel have affected
more than 3,200 rescues of people and more than 110 rescues of pets, the service reports.
Even with a large contingent in the Houston area the service remains
“fully capable of responding to emergencies throughout the Great Lakes,”
said Coast Guard Captain Tim Wendt, chief of response for the Ninth District.
That capability was demonstrated Tuesday when the Coast Guard
joined forces with its Canadian counterpart in a search and rescue operation off Cleveland.
This duel duty came about when a pleasure boat with two anglers aboard was reported overdue.
During the search, a Canadian helicopter located the capsized boat with one of the anglers
clinging to the vessel. The victim was successfully retrieved but the other angler
remains missing and is presumed to have drowned.