If high-energy Rock-’N-Roll star Ted Nugent wanted to jam in Ohio he’d find no opposition.
However, if the pro-Second Amendment activist and vocal sportsman advocate wants to hunt white-tailed deer here he’d be in a pickle, says officials with the Ohio Division of Wildlife.
That is because earlier this summer the Motor City Madman entered no-contest pleas in California for hunting deer near a bait-feed station and not having a properly signed deer tag. While baiting for deer is legal in Ohio it is not in California.
Besides paying a fine of $1,750, the 61-year-old Nugent -a member of the National Rifle Association’s board of directors - also cannot hunt deer in California until June 2012.
And as such, Nugent is prohibited from hunting deer in Ohio until then as well. The reason being that both Ohio and California are part of a 35-state so-called Interstate Wildlife Violator Compact.
Under this multi-state program a fish and game law violator found guilty in a compact member state is prohibited from exercising the same privileges in any of the other compact states during the assigned suspension period.
This issue takes on added significance because last month Nugent hunted ring-necked pheasants in South Dakota, also a compact state member. What is being asked now is whether Nugent violated South Dakota law by hunting pheasants for a deer-hunting-related violation in California.
In Ohio, it’s not much of a question, says Ken Fitz, Ohio Division of Wildlife law enforcement program administrator as well as the vice president of the Interstate Wildlife Violator Compact.
“He would lose his deer hunting privileges in Ohio but that is all,” Fitz said.
“We added a lot of flexibility when we wrote the administrative code dealing with the interstate wildlife violator compact, and our laws are written so that we can agree with just about any entry from any state in the compact.”
Fitz said that each compact member state can apply its own set of rules to determine eligibility for buying a hunting or fishing license.
“For example, we can enter a violation for negligent hunting but some states in the compact don’t do that,” Fitz said. “This is why we tell convicted violators that they are the ones required to check to see if they can legally hunt elsewhere.”
Ohio has been in the compact member since January 1, 2008. In that time the Wildlife Division has made 318 what are called “entries,” or people who saw their hunting, fishing or both privileges suspended in Ohio, Fitz said.
Fitz said also that the agency has reviewed the suspension of around 13,500 convicted fish and game law violators from other states as to whether they would be allowed to hunt or fish in Ohio.
“We agreed to all of them expect for maybe three; and one of those was for driving an ATV through a stream,” Fitz said.
Even if a person lost his elk-hunting privileges in a Western state where such hunting is allowed, Ohio still would suspend that individuals deer-hunting privileges in this state, Fitz said as well.
“From an enforcement perspective it is a great tool. Often one of the first questions I get when I issue a summons is whether or not the person can still hunt or fish, including out of state. That’s a big concern for people,” Fitz said.
Also, under the Ohio Division of Wildlife’s new license-issuing system that will jell statewide next year, the agency will be able to flag hunters or anglers who have been convicted of wildlife.
The process then can either block them from purchasing licenses or monitor their license-buying/game-check activities, says Korey Brown , the Ohio Division of Wildlife’s point man on the new system.
“This is an example of how (Wild Ohio Customer Relations Management System, or WOCRMS) will deliver behind-the-scenes operational efficiencies that will benefit all law-abiding hunters, anglers and wildlife enthusiasts,” Brown said.
As for Nugent, a Blog posting today on the Field and Stream’s online magazine site and also with "West Virginia Outdoors," indicates that he believes his California experience was a “witch hunt.”
Nugent further is quoted in the blogs that he intends to explore the possibility that California wildlife officials had it out for him and that he also wants to find out if there is abuse of power within that state’s fish and game department.
- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn