Wednesday's horrific tragedy at Florida's Stoneman Douglas High School was not the GOP's fault nor the fault of the NRA nor any other single entity or person.
Geezee, many pro-gun control stories and commentators never even blame the shooter nor even mention his name. Instead it's become the firearm and access to it that are the problem.
We had an obviously trouble kid. I mean how long does a person's "check engine light" have to say illuminated before family and friends and officials take notice? There appears to be a huge parental responsibility gap here..
He is said to have repeatedly pulled the school's fire alarm for which he was expelled. Sorry, but that's a crime and he should have been held accountable with the first instance, if not all of them.
Instead, as we're beginning to learn, the school system simply kicked him out the door for someone else to deal with. Even his former classmates said the kid was a ticking bomb.
Evil will manifest itself because evil always manifests itself. Without the firearm this kid almost certainly would have found some other method. Maybe not killing 17 people all at once and maybe not with a firearm but he still would have killed. Perhaps by driving a car through a crowd of students. Perhaps by kidnapping people and torturing them. Maybe more than one person, too.
Those examples are every bit as common as what the media would have us believe is the exclusive domain of so-called "gun violence."
And, yes, we gun owners need to come together and say "okay, there's a problem here of others using in an evil fashion what we use daily lawfully." I am not sure how that can be done but I believe we must try and focus ourselves towards a workable solution.
Let's face it, we're are not going to get every AR platform rifle or 20-, 30-round magazine off the streets. The train left the station ages ago. Many gun owners simply do not trust their elected officials to say "that's enough" without believing they'll also end with "for now."
But there has to be a solution and that solution must include the Giffords, Hollywood, gun control prone legislators, and members of the public recognizing and admitting that the vast majority of AR owners in particular and gun owners in general are good eggs. Their proposals must be realistic, specific, targeted and not some "first step" toward further gun control measures. Not if they want the cooperation and input from us gun owners.
And we gun owners will need to accept that we have to do more to help keep our arms from falling into the wrong hands, whatever that solution may be.
But all of us must always be aware: Push evil's head down somewhere and its going to pop up in some other fashion somewhere else.. Evil is evil and it will not be denied.
- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn
Thursday, February 15, 2018
Monday, February 12, 2018
The addition of five new recognized species and the reduction in the minimum length requirement of three other species when caught from inland waters has helped to breath new life into the state’s Fish Ohio program.
Fish Ohio was launched in 1976 with only 138 entries. This 42-year-old program recognizes anglers who catch a qualifying specimen from one of 25 different species categories. Started last year was sub-setting the minimum length requirements for five species into separate Lake Erie/tributary, and inland/Ohio River categories.
The addition of sucker, longnose gar, bowfin, spotted bass, and bullhead also helped clear the way to an increase in the number of successful Fish Ohio applicants in 2017, says Vicki Farus, the Ohio Division of Wildlife’s Fish Ohio program administrator.
Farus said that for 2017 the Wildlife Division accepted 15,242 applications. That is up from the 13,918 accepted entries for 2016, Farus said.
Each successful Fish Ohio recipient on a one-per-year basis receives a colorful lapel pin featuring a pre-selected member from the program’s recognized list of species. Fish Ohio applicants can also print out on their own home computers certificates honoring their catch during the application processing procedure.
“The addition of the new species added 396 entries with the bullhead leading the way at 137 entries,” Farus said.
Also, says Farus, the new totals represent 1,928 entries for fish species that had their qualifying lengths lowered. Coupled with the 396 accepted entries for new species entries and the total of additions becomes 2,324, Farus said.
“So without those new entries we would have been at 12,918; a figure which is right around the average number of entries per year,” Farus said.
However, said Farus also, “we have no way of knowing how many entries were lost because of the qualifying lengths that we increased.”
Those increases were for carp – which saw it minimum length requirement rise from 26 to 28 inches; muskie from 36 to 40 inches; and freshwater drum (sheepshead when taken from Lake Erie and its tributaries from 22 inches to 24 inches.
In terms of approved applications for the various recognized Fish Ohio species, the numbers for each in 2017 were (combined totals for any two-segmented species): blue catfish – 91; bowfin – 64; brown trout – 30; bullhead – 137; carp – 497; channel catfish – 1,643; crappie – 1,753; flathead catfish -265; freshwater drum/sheepshead – 939; hybrid striped bass – 382; largemouth bass – 1,599; longnosed gar – 57;muskie – 298; northern pike – 126; rainbow trout/steelhead – 296; rock bass – 542; sauger – 140; saugeye – 570; smallmouth bass – 737; spotted bass – 33; sucker – 105; sunfish/bluegill – 2,066; walleye – 1,587; white bass – 699; yellow perch 586.
Although the Fish Ohio program seems to have largely stabilized in terms of total number of entries, several species did post impressive numerical gains between 2010 and 2017. Among them were channel catfish, growing from 974 entries to 1,643; largemouth bass from 751 to 1,599; rock bass from 187 to 737; smallmouth bass from 274 to 737; sunfish/bluegill from 1,575 to 2,066, and the white bass from 245 to 699.
Other species, however, have posted declines such the rainbow trout/steelhead which dropped from 406 entries in 2010 to 296 entries last year.
None, though, had seen the precipitous drop that befell the yellow perch. Fish Ohio applications for yellow perch dropped from the 1,117 entries in 2010 to 586 entries last year.
As for the walleye, that species’ entries dropped from its eight-year high of 2,430 entries in 2015 to the 1,587 entries in 2017.
In regards to where the Fish Ohio qualifying entries came from, the private pond remains the perennial favorite fishing hole with 3,636 entries, followed by Lake Erie with 3,317 and then the Ohio River at 679.
From there the numbers drop fast with Mosquito Reservoir at 307, Indian Lake at 305, Scioto River at 294, Portage Lakes at 279, the Maumee River at 276, and Hoover Reservoir at 225.
The Wildlife Division’s Fish Ohio program also has a Master Angler component. This segment is a step up, recognizing anglers who catch at least one qualifying specimen from a minimum of four different recognized categories.
In 2017 there were 831 qualifying Master Angler recipients, the most ever awarded since this honor began in 1982 with just 35 qualifiers. In 2016 the total number of Master Angler recipients was 613.
Each approved Master Angler receives a modified version of the lapel pin along with a certificate designating his or her Master Angler status.
“I suspect the large increase in the number of Master Anglers recipients was simply because of the addition of those new species and the lowering qualifications of others,” Farus said.
A cost breakdown of the Fish Ohio program shows that the postage required to send out the popular lapel pins is the greatest expense. With the sending of some nine-thousand protected mailing envelopes this expense amounted to $24,525.
The cost of the pins totaled $7,159.50. And this year’s Fish Ohio will again feature a walleye – the fifth time for this species with the last time being in 2010. This is the most appearances by any recognized Fish Ohio species.
Species which have appeared on the pin four times include the largemouth bass, yellow perch, and the smallmouth bass.
- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn
Jeffrey L. Frischk@Ameritech.net
Thursday, February 8, 2018
Deer hunting in Ohio could become more complex after the Ohio Division of Wildlife announced its proposals to add restrictions and caveats to such participation on publicly owned grounds.
What the Wildlife Division is proposing – and presented February 7th before the eight-member Ohio Wildlife Council – is a short series or law changes regarding the taking of antlerless deer on public property.
These changes encompass the widest spectrum of public lands that hunters can access. Among these properties are state wildlife areas, state forests and parks, as well as the Wayne National Forest. Also included are so-called “agreement lands,” which means such places as the Wayne National Forest, Muskingum Watershed District, AEP lands, City of Akron (Akron Watershed District), among others.
For a complete list of potntially impact lands please refer to: http://wildlife.ohiodnr.gov/portals/wildlife/pdfs/public%20areas/Public%20hunting%20areas.pdf
The possible rule changes mean that hunters will be permitted to take only one antlerless deer on any public land per season. That restriction thus includes making it illegal for a hunter to shoot an antlerless animal on one public wildlife area, for example, and than to shoot another antlerless animal there or on any other publicly owned property at any time during the deer-hunting season.
A second new proposed tightening of the rules would mean that after the conclusion of the general seven-day firearms deer-hunting season the taking of antlerless deer on any publicly owned or managed property would be prohibited.
This proposed restriction would include the taking of an antlerless deer during the two-day/weekend statewide firearms deer-hunting season, the muzzle-loading deer-hunting season, along with the remainder of the archery deer-hunting season.
In short, if a hunter wishes to pursue deer on any publicly owned or managed land after the seven-day gun season is over than it will have to be for an antlered deer, says Clint McCoy, the Wildlife Division’s chief deer management biologist.
It is important to remember that should these rules be approved by the Wildlife Council, they apply only to public lands. At no time do they impact deer hunting on private property, McCoy is quick to note.
McCoy says that the agency’s various deer hunter surveys strongly suggest wide support for increased antlerless deer restrictions on public lands.
“That’s been one of the hottest topics I’ve heard brought up,” McCoy said. “Fully 70 percent of survey respondents expressed support for a measure of this kind.”
Only about 10 percent of Ohio’s deer hunters shoot two or more deer annually on public lands and just about 8.5 percent of resident Ohio deer hunters engage in their interest either exclusively or mostly on public land in the state, McCoy also said.
Asked if public lands then are more popular with non-resident deer hunters, McCoy was quick to say “oh, yeah.”
Thus much of what the Wildlife Division is doing is to help relax the tension that many Ohio deer hunters have about deer bag limits – particularly for antlerless deer – when these allowances impact public lands. Such properties can, at times, during the deer-hunting season leave the impression on some participant’s minds of over-crowding along with its twin complaint: that some deer hunters take legal advantage of the state’s liberal bag limits, McCoy says.
The only only other appreciable proposed change would be the reduction of the maximum allowed deer bag limit for Jefferson County. This proposal calls for the season bag limit to be reduced to no more than two animals, down from the previous maximum limit of three animals.
McCoy said this proposal stems from the marked decline Jefferson County’s total deer kill during the just-concluded deer-hunting season when compared to the 2016-2017 deer-hunting season. This decline amounted to 897 animals. It is suspected that the entire county’s deer herd likely was seriously impacted by epizootic hemorrhagic disease (EHD), McCoy said, thus mandating the request to lower the bag limit in order to rebuild the county’s herd.
Wednesday, February 7, 2018
In a back-peddling move by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources and its Ohio Division of Wildlife, a popular program that supports sportsmen/conservation groups’ outreach efforts remains in tact.
Credit the 180-degree turn-around by intense lobbying by sportsmen’s and conservation groups as well as efforts by some state legislators who hold the all-important trump cards of politics and agency-funding approval.
About one month ago the Natural Resources Department and the Wildlife Division unveiled a revamped plan whereby local sportsmen/conservation clubs would receive funding for such activities as youth and veteran fishing outings, expanded hunter education programming, outdoors introductory activities for women and minorities, and similar hands-on engagements.
The two state agencies had informed the clubs that total monies for the program would be slashed to no more than $500,000, annually down from the minimum promised several years ago of at least $750,000 and sometimes which had seen as much as $1 million.
Grant-qualifying clubs also would see a reduction in the dollar amount they’d each get for approved projects with further curbs on what the money could be used for during an event. In many cases clubs had bought things such as themed tee-shirts or ball-caps as token premiums along with buying food items served at free lunches and snacks for the students and other program attendees.
The money for the so-named “Conservation Club Grant Program” is derived from federal excises taxes paid on firearms, ammunition, fishing reels and rods, archery tackle and other such commodities. The federal government than doles out the dollars to the various states and territories based upon a formula that enfolds a state’s physical size and number of licensed hunters and anglers.
From there the states distribute the money based on an application process.
In Ohio, the money was in lieu of the dollars that clubs at one time received for their distribution of hunting and fishing licenses and game law digests to local license-issuing agents. When the state went to a computerized license-issuing system that necessity was discontinued. The state consequently developed a different system whereby clubs could still receive money in order to accomplish their important recruitment/retention/reactivation projects.
However, the National Resources Department and the Division of Wildlife changed the rules of the grant-awarding game; all without first seeking input from the impacted clubs. Instead, the two agencies conducted a series of informational meetings that basically were intended to inform the clubs that this is the way things are going to be; a move that did not go over well with the conservation/sportsmen community.
Club officials were stung by the swiftness of the changes and the lack of being consulted. They also sought help from state legislators; a group of elected officials who did not take kindly to what they perceived to be a heavy-handed approach to their constituents by the Kasich Administration.
Consequently, in a February 6 letter to the state’s conservation/sportsmen’s clubs the Wildlife Division’s chief Mike Miller announced that the program’s initial requirements and fund-distribution system would remain intact after all, much to the delight of some who helped shepherd the grant program from the beginning.
“These meetings were well attended, and a number of opinions and options were shared on how to help make the grant program more successful,” Miller wrote in his letter.
“The takeaway was that we have passionate sportsmen and women all across the state, and working together we can continue to preserve Ohio’s outdoors traditions.”
Then without really acknowledging that the Natural Resources Department and Wildlife Division were taken out back to the political and sportsmens’ woodshed, Miller said also “As the chief of the ODNR Division of Wildlife it is my responsibility to take everything into consideration and utilize the money in the most effective and efficient way we can.”
Miller then went on to list what he described as changes to the Conservation Club Grant program for 2018. These memorandum notes really are not changes but rather the status quo of what was done prior to the agency’s attempted – and now aborted - program overhaul.
Which has made sportsmen such as Jim Marshall very happy.
Marshall was the Wildlife Division’s assistant chief from 2007 to 2010 and also the agency’s acting chief for about seven months in 2010. In all, the now-retired Marshall was employed by the Wildlife Division for 31 years. He likewise was a major contributing cog in the grant program’s start-up machinery.
“I am very happy about all of this,” Marshall said. “This has always been money that’s been promised to the clubs made after the end to the service fee they collected for distributing hunting and fishing licenses. These clubs used that money for important projects that sought to recruit and retain hunters and fishermen.”
Marshall said the matter never should have reached critical mass in the first place; rather the Natural Resources Department and the Wildlife Division should have first consulted with the affected conservation-sportsmen clubs.
A key to the Natural Resources and Wildlife Division retreat, Marshall said as well, was that a number of sportsmen began contacting their state elected officials and complained bitterly about the Department/Division mulish approach and the dire impact the changes would have on the clubs’ programs.
At that point resistance to the clubs’ complaints began to crumble, Marshall said.
“They broke a promise we made to the clubs, and I cannot think of a program that has done more good than has this grant program” Marshall said.
An additional incentive to the Natural Resources and Wildlife Division’s retreat, Marshall said, came when Lawrence and Gallia County sportsman contacted their state representative, Rep. Ryan Smith R-93. Smith also is chairman of the powerful Ohio House Finance Committee.
Smith approached the Natural Resources Department and Wildlife Division to set up a meeting where the representative said he “expressed my frustration” at the changes that would seriously impact recruitment/retention/return programs he’s personally familiar with.
“I told them that the local programs for kids and veterans and others are important to me,” Smith said. “I’m not against statewide R-3 programs at all but they cannot come at the expense of what is being done now, especially in my district.”
Smith said he requested that the Natural Resources Department and Wildlife Division really “needed to fix” its new program with a return to the original system being the best option.
“To their credit they did fix it,” Smith said.
Tuesday, February 6, 2018
While on February 2nd a famous Pennsylvania groundhog was predicting six more weeks of winter, on that same day three black bears in Northeast Ohio ignored the woodchuck’s long-range weather forecast.
The trio of bears – very likely a family unit consisting of a sow and two yearling cubs – took a stroll on Groundhog Day in Lake County and a stone’s throw away from Lake Erie. A somewhat blurry cell phone-camera-like photograph was taken of at least two of the animals and was posted on Cleveland’s WKYC-TV3’s web site.
However, this appearance occurred in the dead of winter and in an area of Lake County that many people would say was devoid of bear-denning habitat. The bears were reported in Painesville Township. This location is largely a mix of housing complexes, and undeveloped parcels undergoing second growth reversions and some industrial sites as well as Lake County’s prodigious landfill and the also-substantial and highly restricted Perry Nuclear Power Plant.
In terms of open spaces, just to the east is Lake Metroparks’ nearly 600-acre Lake Erie Bluffs Park in Perry Township. But this area does not contain much of what most people would call good bear habitat, says the agency’s biologist John Pogacnik who has tramped extensively through his agency’s Bluffs’ holding.
“The Bluffs were logged off some time ago and there’s a lot of second growth and reverting fields. Maybe the bears had found a place at the landfill or at the old factory site nearby. It’s definitely odd,” Pogacnik said.
Pogacnik did add that a bear was seen last summer near Perry Park Road close at hand to the Bluffs – an easy stroll for a human and less so for a bear.
“Just being out in winter does seem weird for a bear, but it is known that if a bear is disturbed when its sleeping it will move,” Pogacnik said.
True enough says the Pennsylvania Game Commission’s black bear authority. Such winter-time physiological activity is actually somewhat common. At least for bear family’s with this apparent make-up, says Mark Ternent, the Commission’s Black Bear Project leader.
Ternent says that almost certainly the trio consists of a sow with cubs almost old enough to go their separate ways; which typically happens just before bear breeding season in May and early June.
“We have bears killed on our highways here in Pennsylvania every month of the year,” Ternent said. “I would guess that in your case it’s a sow with older cubs; and a unit like that is much easier to be disturbed than were it a sow with new-born cubs. A unit like that will not get up and move if it were to be disturbed.”
In fact, Ternent said, so casual is the denning protocols of sows with nearly grown cubs that such sites are often nothing more than a hollowed out piece of ground with a pile of leaves, twigs and limbs scooped up.
“I like to compare it to a bird’s nest,” Ternent said. “We’ve walked up to such sites and watched the bears simply rise and wander away. After a couple of days of walking around they’ll lay back down and go back to sleep, though rarely in the same place where they were first disturbed.” They’re not starving either.”
Ternent is not overly surprised that the Lake County sighting occurred in an area few people would conclude as being ideal bear denning habitat.
“Bears have expanded their range so much that they are now in places we never would have imagined before,” he said. “It’s why we now have a bear-hunting unit in Northwest Pennsylvania along the border with Ohio.”
And wondering what will become of the three bears befalls on Marino Pellegrini, the state wildlife officer assigned to Lake County.
Pellegrini said he reconnoitered the sighting area the day after the photo shoot but did not find any creatures nor any sign of tracks. And Pellegrini said as well how whenever he’s in that general location he’ll poke around the park, the landfill and the Painesville and Perry township neighborhood.
“There are still some nooks and crannies where the bears may be sleeping, and I’ll keep in touch with the Lake County Sheriff Department to see if it receives any more reports of bears being sighted,” Pellegrini said.
As for overall bear sightings in Ohio, Jamey Emmert, spokeswoman for the Wildlife Division’s District Three (Northeast Ohio) office in Akron, said that in 2017 Lake County recorded six bear sightings of which three were confirmed.
In neighboring Geauga County the figures were 11 and 8, respectively. Meanwhile, next door in Ashtabula County, the numbers were 29 and 15, also respectively. The figures for Ashtabula County easily were the most for any of the 30 Ohio counties where black bears were reported in 2017, Emmert said.
Overall in the state last year the number of bear sightings totaled 113 with the number of confirmations standing at 70.
Monday, February 5, 2018
Ohio’s deer hunters didn’t kill 188,00 animals this past combined seasons nor even 187,000 whitetails as was possible but they still bested what they did during the 2016-2017 all-seasons’ tally.
When the final arrow was launched and the final figures tabulated, Ohio’s archers, firearms and muzzle-loaders shot a total of 186,247 white-tailed deer for the 2017-2018 season. That figure is 4,078 more animals than were killed during the 2016-2017 deer-hunting period which saw 182,169 animals being taken, or harvested in the vernacular of biologists with the Ohio Division of Wildlife.
For comparison, the 186,247 figure falls into forth place in total kill over the past six deer-hunting seasons. The total deer kills for these seasons were: 2012-2013 – 218,91 animals; 2013-2014 – 191,503 animals; 2014-2015 – 175,801 animals; 2015-2016 -188,335 animals; and 2016-2017 – 182,169 animals.
Yet while the total overall deer kill was up over its 2016-2017 all-implements counterpart, that is not true for the harvest associated with archery tackle. Total deer kill figures for archery equipment were down for both antlered and antlerless deer when stacked up against their 2016-2017 numbers. The total archery-associated take for antlered deer for the just-concluded 2017-2018 season was 38,334 animals while the comparable 2016-2017 number was 40,705 antlered animals.
For antlerless deer the numbers were 41,945 animals and 42,616 animals, respectively.
“Based on a three-year average, this year’s total archery deer harvest was off by only three percent, and it’s important to remember that archers still account for almost 43 percent of the entire deer harvest total,” said Clint McCoy, the Wildlife Division’s chief deer management researcher-biologist. “In the world of biologists that three-percent figure is peanuts.”
The totals do show, however, that 63 of Ohio’s 88 counties saw gains this past season verses their 2016-2017 total deer kill status. Among the counties with significant increases were (in alphabetical order): Carroll – plus 349 animals; Coschocton – plus 630 animals; Guernsey County – plus 188 animals; Morgan County – plus 286 animals; Preble Couty – plus 122 animals; and Tuscarawas County – plus 683 animals.
“Most hunters want to see more deer and we are moving in that direction but we want to increase the numbers gradually,” McCoy said as well.
Some counties did see rather eyebrow-raising declines, though, and none more so than Jefferson County where the decline in the deer kill was 897 animals. Earlier in the hunting season when Jefferson County’s to-date numbers were coming it was suspected that the entire county’s deer herd likely was impacted by epizootic hemorrhagic disease (EHD), McCoy said.
“At first blush the most obvious thing about this concluded season’s deer harvest was how much it was off in Jefferson County,” McCoy said. “But there were other counties, too.”
And other counties also recorded deer kill declines for whatever reason. This year’s deer harvest for Scioto County was off about 11 percent from the three-year average, for Pike County the deer kill was off around nine percent, and for Lawrence County the deer kill was off about eight percent, McCoy said.
“There were some southeast counties where we anticipated seeing increases in their respective harvests, and we did,” McCoy said.
It may or it may not be telling that a number of counties that are considered urban and suburban – and of which some were once enfolded into one of the Wildlife Division’s former Urban Deer Zones - had consistently shown to-date deer kill declines throughout the entire 2017-2018 deer-hunting season.
The urban-suburban counties of Cuyahoga, Lake, Geauga, Lorain, Lucas, Franklin, Summit, and Medina each saw declines when stacked against their respective 2016-2017 final figures.
And most of them experienced declines in their archery kill numbers, though McCoy is more than a little reluctant to say that their respective herds are now in check due to controlled archery hunts.
“I do not doubt for a second that there are communities within counties where controlled archery hunts are having an impact,” McCoy said, “but you have to look at the county as a whole; which makes it difficult to say that on a county-wide basis such hunts are having a widespread impact.”
list of all deer checked by hunters during the entire 2017-2018 deer season. The first number following the county’s name shows the harvest number for the 2017-2018 season, and the 2016-2017 season number is in parentheses.