Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Weekly crop harvest report and deer hunting do mix

It may seem strange how the government's weekly crop harvest report could ever be linked to hunter success, especially for the up-coming firearms deer-hunting season.

But that oddity is only on the surface.

Hunt white-tails for any length of time and a person will quickly gather that deer lovesto sneak and hide in fields of still-ripening or unharvested corn. There, they can find shelter from brisk winds, the prying eyes of hunters and still have the opportunity to eat without moving very much.

Eliminate the standing corn and deer have fewer places to play hide-and-seek.

That is why the latest weekly crop harvest report is so telling. Produced jointly by the United States Department of Agriculture and the Ohio Department of Agriculture, the weekly crop harvest report offers a current snapshot on just how extensive is Ohio's remaining ungleaned corn and other crops.

The latest report shows that 85 percent of the state's corn crop has matured. That is well ahead of the long-term, five-year average of 52 percent. And to date, fully 24 percent of the corn intended for grain has been picked, compared to just 5 percent for the long-term average.

Also, the amount of corn harvested for silage likewise is considerably above the five-year average.

So too is the state's soybean maturation as well as harvest.

And Ohio's crop of fall/winter varieties of apples is similarly well ahead of schedule.

All of which means there should be fewer places for the deer to hide and less farm-produced grain and other food stuffs for the animals to eat, forcing the white-tails to seek forage elsewhere. Hopefully next to my (and your) ground blind or tree stand.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Monday, September 27, 2010

Frischkorn's reflection on Ohio's archery deer-hunting opener/w video

After spending nearly 10 hours in two ground blinds during the first three days
of Ohio’s archery-deer-hunting season I’ve seen two white-tails.

Add three more deer that I spotted after I had exited one blind. The two does and one fawn were munching on grass behind a barn where I had parked my car. Go figure.

The guess is in many circles that Ohio’s abundant crop of white oak mast is keeping the deer from exploring all of their feeding potentials. That would include shelled corn, apples, salt blocks and similar deer attractants left by archery hunters near their stands.

Even in many suburban settings are reports of people seeing fewer deer than were noted just a few weeks ago.

Still, I was happy to have had the chance to enjoy a couple of mornings and a couple of evenings in an effort to refuel the freezer with fresh venison.

One is never disappointed with the constant ebb and flow that can be sen and heard while archery deer hunting.

On Saturday just before legal shooting time arrived my ears picked up the notes of a nearby singing pack of coyotes.

And I watched from one of my ground blinds a red squirrel take it upon itself to bully away several chipmunks from off the corn pile. This same red squirrel then proceeded to dine on an apple that I had also tossed onto the bait pile, the little critter happily gnawing away on the fruit.

I was likewise rewarded this morning when a male American towhee visited the bait, not worrying a couple of female cardinals. There’s no way of telling whether this is the towhee that I saw for much of last year’s archery season but I’d like to think that it’s the same fellow.

With a season that runs clear through to the first Sunday in February there is still enough time left to complete by venison-gathering mission.

This story is accompanied by a video, available for viewing on The News-Herald’s web site and under the “blog” heading. Go to the “sports blog” section where you’ll find “Outdoors with Frischkorn.” It’s the last item.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Puppy Mill petition would outlaw DU acutioning of Labrador puppies

My very first Labrador retriever was Rebel, a hard-headed but hard-working yellow dog that fast became my hunting buddy for 12 years.

I picked Rebel up at a Lake County Ducks Unlimited banquet, bidding what it took to own the dog.

But if the Coalition to Ban Ohio Dog Auctions gets it way no DU chapter, Whitetails Unlimited banquet or National Wild Turkey Federation dinner will ever again be allowed to offer a high-quality Labrador retriever, Golden retriever or any other sporting breed member as a fund-raising auction/raffle item.

Pity, too, because the canines presented at such setting are hardly abused or in poor shape. If anything, my Rebel came from the kennels of one of the nation's top Labrador breeders and trainers. Most of the dogs available at such venues similarly herald from such stock.

No more, however, should the anti-dog auction group be able to collect the required 120,700 signatures needed to place the matter on the Ohio ballot. They'll likely get them, too, as signers will be appalled by images of cruelly run so-called "puppy mills" and huge dog auctions - often operated by members of the Amish community - that do not treat canines with the best of care or concern.

And this is a point I've tried to make before to pro-sportsmens organization who (seriously and incorrectly) have minimized the liklihood that such a move is forthcoming.

Thing is the proponents of the petition drive have dragged state Sen. Tim Grendell, R-Chester Township, into the fray. They say that Grendell is a big supporter of the petition effort; all of it, lock, stock and barrel.

However, that's not the case, says Grendell.

He strongly opposes a ban that would force groups like DU to abandon the auctioning of one or two pure-bred and well-cared-for retrievers for legitimate fund-raising activities.

Grendell is especially mad that O'Connor-Shaver has been quoted as speaking for him. hat's far from the case, Grendell told me just a few short moments ago.

In any event, sportsmen and their representatives were - and continue to be - asleep at the switch on this issue.

While puppy mills and dog auctions that mistreat animals must be dealt with there is no reason to toss the baby out with the bathwater, if I'm allowed to use such a cliche.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Local conservation group gets state praise/honor

It was only fitting that the Friends of Euclid Creek would be recognized by the Ohio Lake Erie Commission.

The Commission held its quarterly meeting Wednesday in Euclid. Among its activities was recognizing the conservation efforts of the Friends of Euclid Creek. This stream is a Lake Erie tributary that discharges it waters at the Wildwood unit of Cleveland Lakefront State Park; one very popular steelhead fishing site.

In officially recognizing the Friends group, Ohio Department of Natural Resources Director Sean Logan noted that the citizen-based organization works to promote, educate and encourages "cooperative interaction to improve the Euclid Creek watershed."

Among the noted Friends' highlights is the sponsorship of a photography contest, the conducting of a stream monitoring program, holding rain barrel workshops, and hosting invasive plant pulls.

"All of their events encouraged further local awareness and involvement, leading to tangible projects, such as the Lower Euclid Creek Greenway project, East Branch dam removal project, rain garden implementation project and purchase of conservation easements for important riparian and wetland habitat," Logan said.

"This citizen-led organization is making a difference by improving the lives of those in the Euclid Creek watershed and the surrounding Lake Erie region."

The Ohio Lake Erie Commission was established for the purpose of preserving Lake Erie’s natural resources, protecting the quality of its waters and ecosystem, and promoting economic development in the region. The director of the Ohio Department of Natural Resources serves as the commission’s chairman.

Additional Commission members include the directors of the state departments of Transportation, Health, Development, Agriculture and the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency.

The Commission also oversees the Ohio Lake Erie Protection Fund, which is the source of grant money for projects that benefit the lake’s watershed economically and environmentally. The fund is supported by an Ohio motor vehicle license plate that displays either the Marblehead lighthouse or the Toledo Harbor lighthouse.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

On the passing of Fritz Neubauer

Today's News-herald story on the death of 91-year-old Felix "Fritz" Neubauer includes several reflections on the life of the cantankerous Geauga County sportsmen, Labrador retriever owner and conservationist.

Anyone and everyone who spent any time at all with Fritz has at least one or two good stories to tell. Myself included.

Many moons ago Fritz had invited me to participate in one of the drives he annually hosted at his Burton Township hunting reserve. The drive was for later in the general firearms deer-hunting season.

This also was way back when Ohio deer hunters still used smooth-bore shotguns firing Foster-type slugs; neither of which were was conducive to accuracy.

Anyway, I was positioned at the edge of a swamp; me holding my late father's smooth-bore Browning A-5 shotgun much more suitable for killing rabbits than white-tails.

A doe came running past at pretty close range and I uselessly fired three or four rounds at the escaping deer. Fritz was none too happy with my effort and totally ignored my pleas for mercy.

On toward evening Fritz posted me in a rather comfortable hand-built tree house, instructing me not to come down until he fetched me.

Well, the hours went by and it got beyond legal shooting time, entering early nightfall.

I climbed down out of the stand, walked through the darkening woods and hiked up the rutted, gravel road to Fritz's house/hunting lodge/and whatever else you want to call it.

There sat Fritz, who figured he was going to teach me a lesson.

I felt pretty sheepish then and still do now though I continue to chuckle at my error and the resulting chastisement from Fritz.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Monday, September 20, 2010

Granger's and Painesville park ponds to see annual trout stocking

Area trout anglers can get their gear ready.

The Ohio Division of Wildlife is planning on stocking 34-acre Granger’s Pond with about 1,900 catchable rainbow trout.

Also to be stocked is the 3-acre pond at Painesville’s Recreation Park along the Grand River. This small pond is expected to get about 300 catchable rainbow trout.

Both of these stocking are scheduled for October 15; a Friday. All of the fish will range in size from 10 inches to 13 inches.

Granger’s Pond is located within 100-acre Veteran’s Park, located off Hopkins Road in Mentor. Recreation Park is located off Main Street in downtown Painesville.

Lake Metroparks also will stock Granger’s Pond with about 550 pounds of rainbow trout. These fish will average about one pound each and likely will be stocked about one week after the planting by the Wildlife Division, says Tom Adair, Lake Metroparks’ natural resource manager.

In all, the Wildlife Division will stock approximately 25,000 catchable rainbow trout into 25 Ohio waterways during October.

A valid Ohio fishing license is required to fish either pond.

- By Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Friday, September 17, 2010

UPDATED: Brown County prosecutor not taking any chances with indicted Wildlife Division officials

With a prickly legal case to ponder, Brown County Common Pleas Court Judge Scott Gusweiler has used up the two weeks he said it would take to render an opinion that will impact five indicted top Ohio Division of Wildlife officials.

However, Brown County prosecutor Jessica A. Little is not taking any chances.

She is preparing not only to go forward to trial with the case but also to press the matter further should Gusweiler rulein favor of the defendants.

“If I lose I’m taking it to appeal,” Little said.

However, Little is not terribly surprised that Gusweiler has yet to reveal his legal opinion on whether the five defendants are covered by the so-called “Garrity Rights” rule.

The courts have ruled under Garrity that public employees are protected against self-incrimination while being investigated internally and thus face adverse action such as losing one’s job, Little was quoted as saying earlier this month.

It is Little’s contention that the Garrity Rights rule applies to internal agency investigations, not to external investigations in which the investigating party has no authority over hiring or firing.

All of which Gusweiler said September 2 that he’d take under advisement and possibly render a decision within two weeks.

The problem is, Little says, that Gusweiler will be “breaking new” legal ground when he issues his expected legal opinion.

“It’s been a difficult case and but once the (Garrity) issue is resolved than the rest won’t be as difficult,” Little said.

Among the five Wildlife Division officials charged with two felony counts are the agency’s chief, one assistant chief, a district supervisor, the division’s law enforcement administrator and the agency’s human resources manager.

Mike Shelton, chief spokesman for the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, says that if the matter goes to trial and the five Wildlife Division defendants are each found guilty they would not be required to return their salaries collected while on paid administrative leave. The five officials have collected - combined - approximately $160,000 since being placed on paid administrative leave.

However, Shelton says also, that should the defendants be found guilty of the two fifth-degree felony charges each faces that they would not be eligible to collect state retirement benefits.

This blog posting may be updated as further information becomes available.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

LaTourette says other issues more weighty than lead sinkers

With the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency having told environmentalists it has no authority over regulating lead-based ammunition, U.S. Rep. Steven LaTourette, R-Bainbridge Township, thinks the agency should do the same regarding lead fishing tackle.

That includes sinkers and such.

A few weeks ago several environmental groups petitioned the U.S. EPA to look at banning both lead-based ammunition and lead-based fishing tackle, such as sinkers.

While rejecting authority over ammunition the agency is currently taking reviewing what - if any - authority it has related to fishing gear.

That's too much for LaTourette, however, who believs that 60 million American anglers would sink under a lead ban. The ban could include sinkers, jigs, weighted fly line, and many lures and spinners that contain some lead.

"The EPA must review, as required by law, a petition filed by environmental groups that seeks to ban lead in ammunition, fishing tackle and sinkers," LaTourett says in a press release issued today.

"The EPA will soon decide whether to move toward issuing new regulations that would greatly impact recreational fishing, which contributes $125 billion annually to the economy."

LaTourette correctly noted that the Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus will send a letter to the EPA later this week urging the EPA to dismiss the petition, thus stopping the issue from moving toward a regulation or rulemaking process.

“We’ve got historic unemployment, soaring deficits and are dealing with a massive oil spill in the Gulf and the EPA is worried about lead fishing tackle,” LaTourette said. “If this doesn’t tell you our priorities are out of whack, I don’t know what will.”

LaTourette said the original deadline for comments was Oct. 31, but the EPA slashed the comment period and it ends tomorrow -- Sept. 15. To submit a comment, go to: http://www.regulations.gov/search/Regs/home.html#submitComment?R=0900006480b3f0cd

The Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies, which represents 50 state fish and wildlife agencies, told the EPA last week that a “national ban on lead fishing sinkers is…neither necessary nor appropriate.”

Some fishing groups say fishing tackle and sinkers made without lead can be six to 15 percent more expensive.

“How much would this ban cost, how many manufacturers will go out of business and how would such a ridiculous ban be enforced?” LaTourette said. “Are we going to hire millions of tackle box inspectors? Will the administration add a fishing tackle czar?”

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Local six-gunner rustles up Old West-style shooting competition

Willowick's Ron Paul Duning drew his Colt peacemaker over the Labor Day weekend and sent his competition packing out of town.

Duning participated in the annual Northcoast National Gunslingers Championship, held Sept. 4 and 5 at the U.S. Marine Corps League's Gunny's Hall in Mentor.

There, Duning claimed first place in the Shooter's Choice Open - Men's Division. He also captured first place in the Fastest Guns on Earth-Traditional Style in 0.245 seconds as well as that category's Open Style in 0.262 seconds.

Duning likewise took second place in the contest's Overall National Northcoast Top Gun.

Other winners included Donna Lochner and Howard Shingler who each captured their respective men's and women's divisions in the Fireball Phil Classic-Traditional Style.

Donna Lochner was the first place winner as well in the women's division of the Shooters Choice Open along with the same title for the Fastest Guns on Earth with a time of 0.308.

The winners of the Gunny's Hall Open were Ron Zimmerman and Melinda Shingler in their respective gender divisions.

In the contest's Unlimited Style the winners were Howard Shingler with a time of 0.251 seconds and Donna Lechner with a time of 0.257 seconds.

Meanwhile, Howard Shingler and Melinda Shingler each captured first place in their respective divisions in the Worldwide Double Gun competition.

Melinda Shingler was not done, either. She also was victorious in the Showdown 1X Elimination-Top Elimination.

The Overall National Northcoast Top Guns were Ron Zimmerman and Donna Lachner. Second place were Dunning and Melinda Shingler while in third place were Terry Cambell and Maren Roberts.

For more information about fast-draw competition, contact Duning at ronpaulgun@people.com

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Friday, September 10, 2010

UPDATED Embattled Ohio Division of Wildlife to lose acting chief

In an e-mail statement sent Thursday to the employees of the Ohio Division of Wildlife, acting agency chief Jim Marshall stated: “All; I will be retiring from the Division of Wildlife on September 30, 2010.”

Marshall was to have retired April 30. However, officials with the parent Ohio Department of Natural Resources had asked Marshall to remain as the Wildlife Division’s acting chief.

This was done when agency chief David Graham was placed on paid administrative leave pending the outcome of his indictment on two fifth-degree felony counts now before the Brown County Common Please Court.

When Marshall leaves as acting Wildlife Division chief he will be replaced by John Daugherty, currently the agency’s acting assistant chief.

Daugherty also is the Wildlife Division’s supervisor for the agency’s District Two (Northwest Ohio) office in Findlay.

It is alleged that Graham and four other top Wildlife Division officials failed to properly take administrative action regarding a matter involving the state wildlife officer assigned to Brown County, Alan Wright.

The legal matter involving the indicted officials remains before the court with the last hearing having been conducted Sept. 2. It is expected the judge handling the case will shortly render an opinion on some legal aspects regarding the subject.

Jim’s done very well and we are, of course, sad to see him go,” said Mike Shelton, the Natural Resources Department’s chief spokesman.

“But we understand that he wants a life beyond work and we are thankful that he has stayed on for as long as he has.”

Shelton said also that Daugherty will not be collecting any additional pay, commensurate with that typically awarded to a serving division chief.

Also, Shelton said, the five Wildlife Division officials have to-date collected while on paid administrative leave a combined total of $159,412.43.

This blog posting may be updated as further information becomes available.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

A good morning fishing report bodes well for PerchFest

Stubborn to a fault, area Lake Erie charter captain Marv DeGreen is reporting this morning of outstanding yellow perch fishing.

And that the perch are some of the largest he’s seen in quite a while. His chartered party of anglers are returning shortly to Don Schonauer’s fish-cleaning business. That’s with a full limit of 30 perch per person, too.

DeGreen was fishing in 48 feet of water and on the west of the so-called “hump,” located slightly to east of the Mentor lagoons and slightly to the west of the Grand River.

All of which is important, given that the Lake County Visitor Bureau’s PerchFest fishing derby begins tomorrow.

With an almost relentless string of days that have seen considerable windy conditions Lake Erie has churned and boiled with waves of 10 feet and more.

Right now conditions are seeing waves of 3 to 4 feet and diminishing. By tomorrow waves should be less than two feet; a perfect perch-fishing chop.

Unfortunately, it may be a one-day fishing contest instead of the planned two-day derby. Once again the winds are to intensify late Saturday and into Sunday with an increased chance of showers and thundershowers.

PerchFest fishing derby permits are available at most area bait and tackle operations.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

All of Ohio now under emerald ash borer quarantine

It was only a matter of time before Ohio waved the white flag and announced that the emerald ash borer is a statewide threat.

Thus the Ohio Department of Agriculture has placed each and every one of Ohio's 88 counties under the state’s emerald ash borer quarantine.

Department officials announced through a statement made today that the quarantine stipulates that ash tree materials and hardwood firewood cannot be taken from a quarantined area into a non-quarantined area.

Despite the fact that quarantining the whole state will allow for ease of movement of ash materials and hardwood firewood, it is recommended that Ohioans continue to exercise caution when moving these materials, the Agriculture Department notes.

“Limiting firewood movement helps the state protect against the artificial spread of many pests in addition to emerald ash borer, including gypsy moth and Asian longhorned beetle,” said Ohio Agriculture Director Robert Boggs. “The Department strongly urges Ohioans to continue buying firewood locally.”

The federal quarantine, enforced by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, remains in effect. This quarantine makes it illegal to transport ash trees, parts of ash trees and all hardwood firewood out of the state of Ohio.

Ash trees infested with emerald ash borer typically die within five years. The pest belongs to a group of metallic wood-boring beetles.

Adult ash borers are dark green, one-half inch in length, one-eighth inch wide and fly from early May until September. Larvae spend the rest of the year beneath the bark of ash trees and leave D-shaped holes in the bark about one-eighth inch wide when they emerge as adults.

So dangerous is the threat from emerald ash borers - an invasive species from China and believed to have come to America in wooden pallets - that the nation's entire ash tree population is at high risk.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Bass fishing web site well worth a look

Got to hand it to BassFan.com - It is far and away the best fishing-related web site out there; bar none.

The site is constantly updated. And with news items, too, not just some infomercial that often marks other angling web sites.

I am particularly disappointed with the one devoted to walleye fishing.

That's not true for BassFan.com, however.

One of the latest postings concerns Pure Fishing patent infringement lawsuits against Shimano as it relate to braided fishing lines and also Normark as it relates to scented lures as well as braided lines.

All three companies are industry leaders and are easily among the giants in the fishing tackle world.

BassFan.com is well worth bookmarking regardless of whether you strictly fish for bass or any other species.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Rough seas won't stop the PerchFest's fishing derby

The show must go on and that includes the Lake County PerchFest, set for Friday through Sunday with the two-day fishing derby on tap for Saturday and Sunday.

Regardless of this past weekend’s sever blow and the likely threat of more high winds and rough seas forecasted for the middle of this week, Lake Erie perch anglers will still be out in force.

Whether the perch cooperate is a different matter, though at least one Lake Erie charter captain believes not all is lost.

“It won’t be a problem in finding them but in getting them to bite. The fish get really beat up in these kinds of storms. The perch won’t go anywhere, though. Hopefully the lake will settle down to where we can get them going,” said charter captain Ron Johnson of Painesville Township.

Johnson said that right now the water is stained inside with rough conditions existing over the “hump,” the area’s premier perch-fishing grounds.

And it is even possible that rough conditions today through Thursday may actually help, rather than hurt, most PerchFest derby participants, says Bob Ulas, executive director of the Lake County Visitors Bureau.

“It will give more people an equal advantage. Fishing is always unpredictable. You can see them on the screen and they’re not biting or go the next day and strike gold,” Ulas said.

The Visitors Bureau produces the PerchFest in all of its forms, being held again this year at Lake Metroparks’ Fairport Harbor Lakefront Park.

“The PerchFest is probably the best opportunity to catch a dinner and maybe win $500 or some of the other prizes,” Ulas said also.

For details about Lake Erie’s largest yellow perch-fishing contest as well as the related beach-side activities, including the popular fish dinners, visit the festival/derby web site at www.perchfest.com.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Good works by local Friends of NRA

The local Western Reserve Friends of the NRA has distributed dollars to area outdoors service groups as part of the fund-raising organization's mission.

The money used to make the donations came from the group's annual fund-raising banquet, held May 28. Attendance at the dinner was up 40 percent over its first year in 2008.

Receiving funding were:

4-H's Ohio 4-H Shooting Sports via Kirk Bacon of the Geauga County Coyotes. Received was $2,400 for the purchase of two shotguns, a trap thrower, clay targets and shotgun shells.

The ORCO Gun Club in Geneva Township received $1,673 to assist with noise abatement on the club's several target ranges. This has become an issue as the club increasingly is being crowded by housing development.

The Weslaco Sportsmen's Club received $836 in order to help the Hambden Township group upgrade its archery program that will help bring it in compliance with the standards of the National Archery in Schools Program.

For details about the local Friends activities, contact it at WesternReserveFNRA2gmail.com.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Friday, September 3, 2010

UPDATED Court case against Wildlife officials drags on

Thursday’s court hearing involving five indicated top Ohio Division of Wildlife officials proved a lengthy, exhausting affair.

The largely technical hearing lasted about five hours before Brown County Common Pleas Court Judge Scott Gusweiler.

At issue was whether the courts should grant a defense motion to suppress interviews made by the five Wildlife Division officials to the Ohio Inspector General.

Among the five Wildlife Division officials charged with two felony counts are the agency’s chief, one assistant chief, a district supervisor, the division’s law enforcement administrator and the agency’s human resources manager.

While the defense did not call any of its witnesses - which included Ohio Department of Natural Resources Director Sean Logan - the Brown County prosecutor called three witnesses.

The prosecution’s three witnesses included two from the Ohio Inspector General’s office - the agency which conducted the matter’s original investigation - as well as one called witness from the Natural Resources Department.

These three witnesses were grilled not only by the Brown County prosecutor but also by the defendants’ five attorneys.

“I felt that I was in the boxing ring with five of them beating up on me. But they were just doing their job,” said Brown County prosecutor Jessica A. Little.

While Judge Gusweiler did not rule on any matter he did listen to the testimony of the witnesses as well as the questioning presented by both sides, Little said.

Gusweiler said he would render a decision in a couple of weeks, Little said.

“I presented 21 exhibits; six of them were transcripts of interviews before the Inspector General office, which is what the defense is trying to suppress,” Little said.

Closing arguments were presented at the end of the hearing; a point that Little said was better than filing more paperwork.

“I didn’t want to kill any more trees by writing another brief; there’s been enough of those already,” Little said.

As for the prosecution’s three witnesses, Little says she believes they “got the facts before the court and which the judge needed to be aware of in order to render a decision.”

At the core of the legal wrangling is the so-called “Garrity Rights” rule. Here, the question is whether Garrity will apply to the interviews conducted of the five indicted state officials by the Inspector General’s office.

The courts have ruled under Garrity that public employees are protected against self-incrimination while being investigated internally and thus face adverse action such as losing one’s job, Little said.

However, Little believes that the Garrity Rights rule applies to internal agency investigations, not to external investigations in which the investigating party has no authority over hiring or firing.

“It’s a right the private sector does not enjoy. In my opinion, the Inspector General’s office was independent of the agency being investigated,” Little said.

In attendance at the hearing as well was Allan Wright, the state Wildlife Officer assigned to Brown County.

It was an alleged incident involving Wright that launched the subsequent complicated legal proceedings involving his five superiors.

Wright was alleged to have allowed a South Carolina wildlife officer to use his Ohio address in order to obtain an Ohio hunting license on Nov. 6, 2006.

While the initial case against Wright was voluntarily dropped, a special prosecutor was assigned by Little to oversee the matter.

Adams County assistant prosecutor David Kelly informed Judge Gusweiler in May that he intended to conduct an independent investigation of Wright and presentation to the Brown County Grand Jury.

To date no announcement has been made regarding either an investigation of Wright or any presentation to a grand jury. Wright was reinstated to his post in late May.

Besides Wright, a number of other Natural Resources Department personal were in attendance in the courtroom.

Among them were Wildlife Division employees Jim Marshall, acting agency chief and retired assistant chief; Vicki Mountz, the agency's executive administrator for information and education programs; and Susan Vance, wildlife communications specialist for the agency's District 4 (southeast Ohio) office.

These four Wildlife Division officials as well as Wright attended the hearing as private citizens, not as Wildlife Division agents.

However, those Natural Resources Department personnel who did attend the hearing in an official capacity included Logan; Bret Benack, the department's labor relations chief and who did testify; as well as Kathy Lucas, the department's legal counsel.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn