Wednesday, December 28, 2011

New U.S. postage stamps to feature raptors

The U.S. Postal Service salutes five kings of the sky with the Birds of Prey stamps: the northern goshawk (Accipiter gentilis), peregrine falcon (Falco peregrinus), golden eagle (Aquila chrysaetos), osprey (Pandion haliaetus), and northern harrier (Circus cyaneus).

These powerful birds are depicted in colorful portraits and shown from the neck up.
The artwork appears against a plain, white background.

Customers may preview the stamps on Facebook at, through Twitter @USPSstamps or on the website Beyond the Perf at Beyond the Perf is the Postal Service’s online site for the back story on upcoming stamp subjects, first-day-of-issue events and other philatelic news.

Illustrator Robert Giusti worked with art director Howard E. Paine on this issuance. Giusti painted the original designs in acrylic on canvas board.

The Birds of Prey stamps are being issued at the three-ounce rate. The stamps will be issued Jan. 20, 2012, in Washington, DC.

Visit this link to see the stamp images:

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn
Twiter: @Fieldkorn

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Steelheaders Ball back on track to wipe away mid-winter blues

Citizens for Lake Metroparks has revived a way to help anglers and others beat the mid-winter blahs.

After missing a year the somewhat “annual” Steelheaders Ball is back on the agenda. This year this popular event is scheduled for 6:30-10:30 p.m., Feb. 17 at Lake Metroparks’ Pine Ridge Country Club in Wickliffe.

Agreeing is Steve Madewell, Lake Metroparks’ executive director.

Profit from the fund-raiser will go toward helping the Citizens’ group fund levy efforts for the agency.

As always the fund-raising event will feature raffles, auctions, live music, an open bar, multiple food stations, and good company, says Vince Granito, long-time treasure for the Citizens group.

Both Granito and Madewell point out that the agency has done much to buy access to both the Grand and Chagrin rivers that has helped steelheaders find a place to cast a spawn sack or flick a fly at a trout.

The cost is $45 for individuals, $90 for couples, and $450 for groups. The deadline for ticket purchases is Feb. 8.

Also, the group is looking for raffle and auction items and other support.
For further information, call 440-954-4295, leave a message and your call will be returned.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn
Twitter: @Fieldkorn

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Kasich bails out Wildlife Division on deer season date mistake

A calendar goof made by the Ohio Division of Wildlife required special action today by Gov. John Kasich.

Kasich was asked by the Wildlife Division to sign an executive order allowing the agency to set January 7 through 10 as the time frame for the statewide muzzle-loading deer-hunting season.

The governor quickly agreed, allowing the up-coming season to take place as initially called for by the agency.

And while those dates were picked many months ago - and even appear in the Wildlife Division’s hunting regulations guide that is given with each sold hunting license - they actually violate state policy.

Ohio’s Administrative Code says that muzzle-loading deer-hunting season is to enfold the second weekend in January, not the first weekend as is the case with this season.

Last year’s season was the second weekend, by the way.

“Rules change so much and periodically you have to look to ensure that they don’t complicate matters even further,” said Wildlife Division official Vicki Mountz. “It happens periodically and every now and then you see a boo-boo like this.”

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn
Twiter: @Fieldkorn

Monday, December 19, 2011

UPDATED: State pleased with on-going reduced deer kill

Ohio’s two-day “bonus” firearms deer hunting season missed the bull’s-eye as much as did the general seven-day gun season and also the first six weeks of the state’s archery season.

The two-day hunt that ran Saturday and Sunday saw a kill that dropped 19 percent from that of 2010.

On Saturday and Sunday, Ohio’s firearms deer hunters killed 16,766 animals. That compares to the 20,916 deer killed during the 2010 two-day season; a drop that is pleasing the state's deer managers.

“Well, the take is that we may have fewer deer - and that’s reason to celebrate because that’s what we’ve been trying to achieve that goal since 2007,” said Mike Tonkovich, the Ohio Division of Wildlife’s deer management administrator. “That was the entire intent of the antlerless-only permit.”

Some of the state’s most fabled deer-hunting counties experienced declines, some by substantial percentages. Ashtabula County recorded a two-day kill of 387 deer this year compared to the 579 animals for the 2010 two-day season. That is a significant 33 percent drop.

Other noteworthy examples: Guernsey County - off 28 percent with 446 deer shot compared to 620 animals in 2010; Harrison County - off 31 percent with 477 deer killed compared to 693 deer shot in 2010; Coshocton - off 36 percent with 593 deer killed on Saturday and Sunday but compared to the 931 animals taken during the 2010 two-day bonus season; Tuscarawas County - down 26 percent, reflected by a kill for this year’s two-day season of 541 deer compared to 740 deer shot during 2010’s two-day bonus hunt.

Tonkovich says also that now that the state’s deer herd continues to show declines some areas may need to see reductions in the liberal hunting regulations.

“If in fact this is an indication that the herd is being reduced then we’ll take a look at adjusting the seasons,” Tonkovich says. "In fact, I’ve all ready begun to start to look at this.”

Likely to be examined closely are Madison, Washington, Vinton, and Lawrence counties. Not on the list, however, are the big deer kill counties like Guernsey, Harrison and Coshocton.

“They aren’t on the list but there’s nothing to say they won’t be looked at,” Tonkovich says. “I don’t want to say that we’re going to see a major overhaul of the deer hunting regulations.”

Tonkovich says as well that the news is good for the deer herd since it has begun to degrade the habitat as well as started to produce bucks with small antler mass.

"We need to restore the balance," he said. "Folks need to understand that is where the rubber meets the road."

A close inspection will be made of the bow-hunter observation survey, which is actually intended more for recording fur-bearers but does double-duty with deer, Tonkovich says.

Nearly 4,000 archers participate and their results provide valuable information on regional trend data, Tonkovich says as well.

Locally, only Geauga County posted a gain: 160 deer this year for the two-day season and compared to the 133 animals shot in 2010 for a 20-percent gain.
Lake County was down 19 percent; 46 deer this year compared to 57 deer last year.

Cuyahoga County doesn’t chip in much. This year’s two-day season saw just two deer killed in Cuyahoga County compared to three deer last year.

In Trumbull County, a 26 percent drop was seen, from 329 animals shot during the 2010 two-day hunt to 242 deer for this year’s two-day bonus season.

Down as well was Lorain County - off 32 percent - with 173 animals shot this year and 255 deer shot last year; Erie County - off 62 percent with just 31 deer killed on Saturday and Sunday compared to the 82 deer shot during last year’s two-day season; Medina County - off 22 percent with 157 deer shot over this past weekend and compared to the 203 deer killed there last two-day season; Sandusky County - off 26 percent with 60 deer shot this year and 82 deer taken last year.

The two-day hunt decline follows on the heels of the general seven-day firearms season drop of 14 percent: 90,282 animals this year and 105,034 deer for the 2010 seven-day gun season.

Likewise, the general season and the two-day bonus season declines are further enhanced by the drop in the deer kill encountered during the first six weeks of Ohio’s archery deer-hunting season. That statistic was represented by the 45,836 animals taken during the first six-week period this year compared to the 51,543 deer taken during 2010’s first six weeks of the archery season.

Only Ohio’s two-day early youth-only hunt has thus far posted a gain. This two-season saw youths shoot 8,681 deer compared to the 8,445 deer taken during
2010’s two-day youth-only hunt.

Here are the county-by-county harvests for Ohio’s two-day bonus hunt with their respective 2010 figures in parentheses:

Adams - 323 (302); Allen – 122 (104); Ashland – 252 (367); Ashtabula – 387 (579); Athens – 332 (352); Auglaize – 82 (57); Belmont – 416 (529); Brown – 261 (319); Butler – 102 (96); Carroll – 442 (585); Champaign – 128 (147); Clark – 76 (77); Clermont – 226 (300); Clinton – 84 (110); Columbiana – 324 (429); Coshocton – 593 (931); Crawford – 91 (99); Cuyahoga – 2 (3); Darke – 71 (81); Defiance – 174 (182); Delaware – 143 (162); Erie – 31 (82); Fairfield – 180 (318); Fayette – 23 (29); Franklin – 47 (55); Fulton – 85 (98); Gallia – 233 (304); Geauga - 160 (133); Greene – 74 (73); Guernsey – 446 (620); Hamilton – 91 (85); Hancock – 147 (102); Hardin – 103 (116); Harrison – 477 (693); Henry – 95(70); Highland – 267 (300); Hocking – 281 (332); Holmes – 303 (466); Huron – 198 (256); Jackson – 215 (208); Jefferson – 369 (427); Knox – 373 (543); Lake – 46 (57); Lawrence – 205 (235); Licking – 483 (615); Logan – 200 (188); Lorain – 173 (255); Lucas – 30 (36); Madison – 50 (62); Mahoning – 181 (176); Marion – 80 (107); Medina – 157 (203); Meigs – 269 (358); Mercer – 57 (51); Miami – 70 (59); Monroe – 281 (367); Montgomery – 18 (23); Morgan – 242 (317); Morrow – 130 (201); Muskingum – 499 (596); Noble – 272 (430); Ottawa – 33 (51); Paulding – 124 (140); Perry – 228 (372); Pickaway – 93 (105); Pike – 161 (179); Portage – 167 (162); Preble – 72 (88); Putnam – 77 (66); Richland – 290 (403); Ross – 265 (344); Sandusky – 60 (82); Scioto – 224 (256); Seneca – 159 (200); Shelby – 97 (97); Stark – 175 (212); Summit – 44 (40); Trumbull – 242 (329); Tuscarawas – 541 (740); Union – 73 (86); Van Wert – 86 (85); Vinton – 231 (219); Warren – 110 (137); Washington – 330 (439); Wayne – 184 (204); Williams – 197 (184); Wood – 76 (71); Wyandot – 160 (163); Total – 16,766 (20,916).

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn
Twitter: @Fieldkorn

Keeping it short for Christmas wish list

When a sportsman turns the corner on 60 the person begins to take a serious inventory of the accumulated goodies in his life.

And it’s not uncommon to discover that your collection includes a lot of items that you originally thought were must-haves but now upon further reflection seem more of an unnecessary luxury than a necessity.

Still, I can’t help but ask for things either impractical economically or really not needed.

A request for a four-wheel-drive ATV heads the like-to-have-but-totally-impractical column. I hope to retire in five years and I don’t want another monthly installment loan payment.

Likewise I would dearly love to have one of the new Turkish-made Stoeger Arms semi-automatic shotguns. But we’re talking about $450 here and thus that also is a good fit for impractical column.

Yet I accumulated several items this past year that had I not already owned them would still have made good Christmas gifts.

Among them are rechargeable battery-powered electric socks and gloves made under the Gerbing’s Core Heat Transfer System banner.

Used extensively last winter and just now being employed as the weather cools, both the gloves and - especially - the socks are godsends.

They really do work. Gerbing’s gloves and socks have become “must” items whenever I take to my ground blind for a late season archery deer hunt or a chilly morning of ice fishing.

They are truly remarkable instruments. See

Fellow News-Herald reporter John Kampf put me on to the next item. He swears by the Rage series of mechanical broadheads for archery deer hunting. These tools, John says, drive a wicked entry wound as well as a massive exit wound.

So convincing was John’s arguments that I went out and bought the 100-grain, three-blade model. Sure enough, John was correct about how humanely these broadheads are in delivering a fatal blow to a deer.

I used one to take an adult doe deer the Monday before Thanksgiving. Rage’s product was coupled with a new style of arrow by Horton Archery that features a shorter and wider vane than previous models as well as an illuminated nock. It was cool to see the arrow’s flight but the effectiveness of the Rage broadhead was even more impressive.

Thirdly, I picked up both a Thermacell “appliance” and a Thermacell Lantern.

Each tool is designed to repel nasty, biting insects. Powered by replaceable butane cartridges, both the appliance and the lantern employ a replaceable so-called “mat” that is saturated with a repellent called “allethrin,” which the company says is a copy of a repellent that naturally occurs in chrysanthemum flowers.

It repels up to 98 percent of mosquitoes, black flies, and no-see-ums within a 225-square foot area. The repellent will not harm humans or pets, Thermacell says also.

And yes, the devices work - and work amazingly well. The appliance, for example, was extensively used during the early part of the archery deer-hunting season.

Since I hunt from a ground blind I brought in the appliance and watched as mosquitoes literally flew out of the blind.

As for the lantern that can be used for when want to enjoy a quiet evening in your back yard. Say good-by to all of those irksome disease-carrying Mentor Marsh mosquitoes.

These devices are inexpensive but they are worth millions if you want to avoid slapping mosquitoes for a living.


Now I know three products don’t make for much of a wish list but like I said, I’ve reached a point in life when I’m starting to forget all of the things I thought I needed only to see them collect dust. None of these three suggestions fit that category.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn
Twitter: @Fieldkorn

Thursday, December 15, 2011

UPDATED: Wildlife Division's new employee resident hunt/fish license policy

The Ohio Division of Wildlife has now put in stone what has been implied regarding state wildlife officers assisting non-residents to acquire resident hunting and fishing licenses.

Policy Number 51 - called the “License Purchase Policy” - spells out “guidelines” that Wildlife Division employees are to use in order “to assist in the purchasing of licenses or permits.”

These guidelines come in the form of four prohibitions and as approved Dec. 12 by newly installed Wildlife Division chief, Scott Zody.

“It just reinforces what we’ve said in the past,” said Laura Jones, spokeswoman for the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.

The Ohio Division of Wildlife has now put in stone what has been implied regarding state wildlife officers assisting non-residents to acquire resident hunting and fishing licenses.

Policy Number 51 - called the “License Purchase Policy” - spells out “guidelines” that Wildlife Division employees are to use in order “to assist in the purchasing of licenses or permits.”

These guidelines come in the form of four prohibitions and as approved Dec. 12 by newly installed Wildlife Division chief, Scott Zody.

“It just reinforces what we’ve said in the past,” said Laura Jones, spokeswoman for the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.

Agreeing is David Lane, a Wildlife Division assistant chief.

“There never was a policy in place specifically within the Wildlife Division but there had been some verbal communications and memos sent out,” Lane said. “That was one of the things in the (Ohio Inspector General’s) report that we should do so we did it. Common sense can go a long ways but if needs to be written out, so be it.”

The prohibitions are:

* Employees are not to advise or assist in the purchase (of) a license contrary to or in violation of the law.

* If an employee is aware of a person acquiring a license in violation of the law, the information is to be documented on a violation report and this report shall be given to the district law enforcement supervisor.

* Non-residents may not use an employee’s address to obtain a license nor may they use the address of any ODNR facility or office.

* Division of Wildlife employees may not purchase a license at a reduced price in other states unless a formal written agreement allowing reciprocal purchases of licenses between Ohio and the other state exists, or the law of the other state clearly allows such a purchase.

This enhanced policy position takes effect January 1, the document reads. It also notes that Ohio law requires that resident license of any kind can only be bought by a resident of the state.

Prompting the new policy directive were a number in incidents in which an out-of-state wildlife officer was assisted by an Ohio Division of Wildlife officer in obtaining a resident fishing or hunting license.

Which in turn has spiraled into a legal case that has unsnarled a number of current and retired Wildlife Division officials.

The prohibitions are:

* Employees are not to advise or assist in the purchase (of) a license contrary to or in violation of the law.

* If an employee is aware of a person acquiring a license in violation of the law, the information is to be documented on a violation report and this report shall be given to the district law enforcement supervisor.

* Non-residents may not use an employee’s address to obtain a license nor may they use the address of any ODNR facility or office.

* Division of Wildlife employees may not purchase a license at a reduced price in other states unless a formal written agreement allowing reciprocal purchases of licenses between Ohio and the other state exists, or the law of the other state clearly allows such a purchase.

This enhanced policy position takes effect January 1, the document reads. It also notes that Ohio law requires that resident license of any kind can only be bought by a resident of the state.

Prompting the new policy directive were a number in incidents in which an out-of-state wildlife officer was assisted by an Ohio Division of Wildlife officer in obtaining a resident fishing or hunting license.

Which in turn has spiraled into a legal case that has ensnared a number of current and retired Wildlife Division officials.

It is expected this story will be updated, likely to include quotes.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn
Twitter: @Fieldkorn

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Christmas Bird Count begins this weekend

Come Saturday Mary Huey of Willoughby will marshal a covey of like-minded birders for an annual bird-tallying event that stretches back more than a century.

The Burrough’s Nature Club participants will be engaged in the National Audubon Society’s 111th annual Christmas Bird Count. They have set aside for themselves a swath of western Lake County.

Meanwhile, other groups - such as the Blackbrook Audubon Society - will view and record bird sightings at different locations in Lake County and also on Sunday.

The entire program is sponsored by the National Audubon Society and is held nationwide from Dec. 14 to Jan. 5 each year.

Every participant is assigned a certain territory and designated to locate places to key in on as well as record findings and sightings.
Huey’s job is to coordinate activities with the group assembling at Lake Metroparks’ Gully Brook Park on the Willoughby-Willoughby Hills line.

“This is the first year we’ve surveyed that area in some time so I’m not sure what we’ll find,” said Huey, who has participated in the count since the early 1960s.

Previous outings have spied many common wintering birds such as tufted titmice, cardinals and bluejays.

“We hope to see some owls and kingfishers, and we would really like to have an eagle fly over us,” Huey said.

Huey says the groups tend to average small in size; numbering maybe a dozen or so participants.

“After about an hour we break off into smaller groups of two or three people,” Huey said. “If you do see something unusual it’s good to have someone else around to verify the sighting.”

Some of Huey’s more noteworthy sightings included identifying a cowbird - normally long gone by winter - as well as a mockingbird, which likewise had no business hanging around Northeast Ohio during the Christmas season.

“And I remember once seeing some snow buntings around the old Willoughby landfill,” Huey said. “That was pretty exciting. And we’re still seeing some migration, especially with ducks and geese.”

Among the count’s frequent participants and excellent birders is John Pogacnik, John, Lake Metroparks’ biologist.

“I do but not around here,” Pogacnik said. “I participate in the Lake Erie Island area count, which I organized about 25 years ago.”

Pogacnik said that because of the warming influence of Lake Erie the weather tends to be more mild and thus often allows seeing species less commonly encountered in Northeast Ohio such as the hermit thrush as well as bald eagles.
“You get some really neat stuff, which is one of the reason I put it together,” Pogacnik said.

High on Pogachik’s count list are buffleheads, a type of diving duck. Where once a count of around 100 birds was tallied now the total is up to 2,000 or more birds, he said.

“I think that’s because of the proliferation of the zebra mussel which the bufflehead like to eat,” Pogacnik said,

However, one bird species Pogacnik said he rarely sees around the islands is the common tufted titmouse, which doesn’t like to cross large expenses of open water.

“And we very seldom see pigeons anymore, either,” Pogacnik said. “Whether they like
the big city habitat or what I just don’t know.”

Asked to note the difference between the Christmas bird count and February’s Great Backyard Bird Count, Huey said the former has a much richer history and is more technical in its execution.

“The Christmas count has been going on a lot longer and also does more field counting of birds and less bird feeder counting; which we do too but not as much,”

Huey said who noted that by noon most every counter is tuckered out and ready to gather to mull over the findings.

“We usually have the tally done by then so we can stop and eat lunch somewhere in downtown Willoughby,” Huey said.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Monday, December 12, 2011

State blames sea lampreys for steelhead losses

While Northeast Ohio steelhead anglers are grumbling about a seemingly lack of trout the Ohio Division of Wildlife maintains that the stocking rate remains at goal levels.

However, once the stocked fish are released and enter Lake Erie they are facing a life-threatening gauntlet by the flesh-eating, invasive sea lamprey.

In terms of stocking trout, though, only this past spring was the Wildlife Division unable to reach its targeted goal of 400,000 fish. These fish are released into the Huron, Rocky, Chagrin and Grand rivers along with Conneaut Creek.

“So the only thing that anglers might not be see are more ‘skippers,’” said Kevin
Kayle, manager of the Wildlife Division’s Fairport Harbor Fisheries Research Station and also the agency’s steelhead program administrator.

In fact, Kayle says, the agency stocked 433,000 trout in 2010, 458,000 steelhead in 2009, and 465,000 fish in 2008.

Of chief concern for trout mortality, says Kayle, is the high population of adult sea lampreys that call Lake Erie home.

This invasive fish species prefers such soft-rayed fish as trout. A lamprey has a round mouth with a series of curved teeth that are used to attach the pest to the side of a fish. The lamprey then feasts on its host’s flesh.

“We have been seeing a higher incidence of lamprey-wounding rates on both our steelhead and also lake trout,” “Before anyone goes and starts trashing our Little Manistee-strain of steelhead this is really a regional issue, too Our counterparts in Pennsylvania and New York are seeing the same thing.”

Asked if there are any answers or solutions to the problem, Kayle said that intensive sea lamprey control is a must.

“We just can’t let up and continue to be diligent,” Kayle said.
In this regards Kayle said he’s unsure about possible 2012 treatments since that work is performed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

“And we’ll be meeting with them later this winter,” he said.

Kayle said also that Canadian commercial fishermen can’t sell what steelhead they do catch and thus have to go out of their way to avoid this species.
Other contributors to the generally lack of stellar steelhead fishing this year has been - and continues to be - the weather.

“Certainly this year’s poor weather conditions factored into the equation,” Kayle said. “It was just miserable last spring.”

The massive appearance of green algae blooms in Lake Erie may “have some influence on distribution of the steelhead” but likely did not contribute to any die-off of fish,” Kayle says.

“We’re continuing to monitor where it pops up in the summer but right now we don’t believe that it has any impact on steelhead morality,” he said.
Kayle did say that the agency’s creel clerks have been seeing a “lot of big fish; steelhead in the 12- to 15-pound class.”

“These fish have probably been swimming around Lake Erie for the past three or four years,” Kayle said.

As for the future of the state’s steelhead stocking and management program, the $5 million to $7 million improvements at the Wildlife Division’s Castalia coldwater hatchery are nearly complete, Kayle says also

“These improvements will allow us to have better quality control over the steelhead that we do raise and will also allow us to raise all of our steelhead eggs instead of relying on Michigan where we once got both eggs and advanced fry,” Kayle said.

“They were of variable size and that complicated matters.”

Jeffrey L. Frischkorn
Twitter: @Fieldkorn

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Wildlife Division kept busy with citations during gun deer week

With the Ohio’s seven-day general firearms deer-hunting season under its belt the state’s wildlife officers can reflect on how participants behaved themselves.

Or misbehaved as once again commissioned officers with the Ohio Division of Wildlife spent some of their time issuing citations.

Not that these law enforcement agents had a quota to meet. It’s just that sometimes people do bad things that warrant a ticket, says Jim Lehman, the agency’s law enforcement administrator.

And even though the first few days of this year’s gun season was wet, windy and miserable the number of citations issued was on par with previous seasons, Lehman said.

In all, the state’s commissioned wildlife officers performed 7,951 contacts and made 909 arrests, up only two percent, Lehman said.

Count trespassing without written permission as the top ticket item with the state’s wildlife officers issuing 133 citations.

“It is a high priority for us, given the amount of private property in the state,” Lehman said.

Other frequently encountered violations included unplugged guns (Number Two at 131 citations), and failure to properly tag a deer (Number Three with 122 citations), no deer permit (Number Four with 102 citations) and not wearing blaze orange (Number Five with 62 citations).

The failure to wear an orange garment is typically written when another violation occurs as the hunter is often trying to avoid detection, Lehman said.

“Obviously someone who is hunting with a rifle or else hunting without a deer tag likely won’t be wearing hunter orange,” Lehman said.

Yet concerns about using the new deer check-in system would result in unintended violations did not crop up as much as Wildlife Division officials first thought, Lehman said.

Calls to the Wildlife Division inquiring about the new check-in process and other matters were up 44 percent, Lehman said.

“Many people called to inquire if they were filling out the tags properly, and that was encouraging,” Lehman said.

Lehman said also that it appears the bulk of successful hunter employed the telephone to check in their animals, though Lehman believes using the Internet is even easier.

As for hunters not properly caring for their paper document while dragging out a deer, that issue will be looked at during the officers’ debriefing procedure, Lehman says.

Lehman did say that many hunters employed some rather unique tools to weather-proof their filled-in deer tags. This effort included using a zipper-style of plastic holder given away by wildlife officers that featured a clear side and an orange side along with a hole for attaching with a string or plastic cable tie.

Importantly, Lehman says, it is not the object of the wildlife officers to see who can write the most tickets. If an agent determines that nothing is deliberate and the hunter makes a good faith effort he more often than not is given a pass, Lehman says.

Carelessness or intentionally trying to evade the law is a different matter all together, Lehman says also.

“That’s what is nice with this system; it allows you to have (the information) right at the officer’s fingertips and can be dealt with right in the field or shortly thereafter,” Lehman said. “We don’t want to issue citations when they’re not necessary but this new system is a great tool.”

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn
Twitter: @Fieldkorn

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Wildlife Division: Farmers Not Interested In Hosting Deer Hunters

Well, so much for THAT idea.

The notion that Ohio's farmers would welcome hunters with open arms in order to help control the state's deer herd has crashed and burned.

Ohio's Division of Wildlife is reporting that the Web site will be discontinued due to lower than anticipated participation from Ohio’s farming community.

In its press release the Wildlife Division says:

"The Web site was launched in August 2009 in order to educate Ohioans on crop damage by deer, while at the same time increasing awareness of hunting opportunities. This was a joint effort between the Ohio Farm Bureau (OFB) and the ODNR Division of Wildlife.

"After the first year, more than 9,000 hunters had enrolled with 83 landowners signing on in the four-county test area. The OFB and the Division of Wildlife agreed to expand the program to 38 counties across southeast Ohio in 2010. Despite direct mailings by the Division of Wildlife and marketing efforts by the OFB, an insufficient number of landowners signed up for the program. At the end of year two, an additional 5,000 hunters had enrolled with only 40 additional farms.

"Access to private lands for hunting is integral to managing local deer populations and minimizing agricultural damage. The Division of Wildlife will continue to work with the OFB, as in the past, to find practical solutions to deer crop damage using deer hunting and other means as needed."

Obviously it is past time for Ohio's farmers and their powerful lobbying groups to stop whining about the state's large deer herd. They had an opportunity to contribute to a meaningful control method and chose not to do so.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn
Twitter: Fieldkorn.

Monday, December 5, 2011

UPDATED Ohio's firearms deer hunters see 14 percent kill decline

Even with the best of hunting weather on Saturday, Ohio’s 420,000 deer chasers couldn’t make up for all of the ground lost during the gun season’s first four weather-miserable days.

However, the deficit shrank from 39 percent on Opening Day, Nov. 28, to 17 percent on Friday, Dec. 2, to “only” 14 percent when the seven-day season concluded on Sunday.

In all, the state’s deer herd was trimmed by 90,282 animals. For the 2010, seven-day firearms deer-hunting season, sportsmen killed 105,034 deer.

Hunters “clearly took advantage of the weather” as the week progressed, though the total deer killed numbers don’t reflect significant gains when compared to Saturday, 2010, said Mike Tonkovich, the Ohio Division of Wildlife’s deer management administrator.

On Saturday, Ohio’s deer hunters checked in 16,677 animals compared 16,463 deer taken on the gun season’s lone Saturday in 2010.

“While other factors may have been at work, it is clear that extreme weather – good or bad – on key harvest days can have a significant impact on the bottom line,” Tonkovich said. “I do have to say - on speculation only - that more hunters were out on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday than usual; likely people who were hunting locally and not traveling to a deer camp. With tags in their pocket, guys are going to find a way to fill them.”

Hunters still have a weekend of firearms deer hunting season left; Dec. 17 and 18. Weather-determining this hunt could yield a kill of around 20,000 animals.

However, Tonkovich says that before eliminating this season the state would trim bag limits or place further antlerless permit restrictions.

“Based on way the season has gone so far I don’t see making this recommendation,” Tonkovich says.

The statewide muzzle-loader deer-hunting season will be held January 7 through 10, 2012. Participants in this season also typically shoot about 20,000 deer.

Meanwhile, the state’s archery hunters have until Feb. 5, 2012 to fill their remaining deer tags. For the late season archery hunters can be called on to kill an additional 20,000 deer as well.

“The big picture has to be the major goal and we won’t know that until all of the dust settles at the end of the hunting year,” Tonkovich said.

As far as implement type used during this year’s firearms deer-hunting season, the breakdown was: 75,896 deer taken with shotguns, 405 with crossbows, 213 with longbows, 12,150 with muzzle-loaders, 1,050 with handguns, and remainder were killed by unknown implement type, Tonkovich said as well.

Also, says Matt Ortman, the Wildlife Division administrator in charge of the state’s hunter education program, reports that the seven-day season saw only six non-fatal hunting accidents, officially called “incidents.” Last year that figure was eight.
hio’s last fatal firearms deer-hunting incident was in 2009, Ortman said also.
Here is the county-by-county 2011 seven-day firearms deer-hunting season kill with their respective 2010 figures in parenthesis:

Adams – 1,727 (1,639); Allen – 293 (440); Ashland – 1,096 (1,350); Ashtabula – 1,777 (2,400); Athens – 2,059 (2,147); Auglaize – 192 (245); Belmont – 2,431 (2,736); Brown – 1,229 (1,423); Butler – 345 (401); Carroll – 2,252 (2,952); Champaign – 554 (613); Clark – 276 (295); Clermont – 980 (1,215); Clinton – 373 (391); Columbiana – 1,738 (2,391); Coshocton – 3,690 (4,288); Crawford – 441 (568); Cuyahoga – 37 (38); Darke – 223 (265); Defiance – 725 (910); Delaware – 594 (696); Erie – 137 (157); Fairfield – 1,152 (1,258); Fayette – 104 (114); Franklin – 170 (142); Fulton – 302 (438); Gallia – 1,844 (1,899); Geauga – 623 (738); Greene – 287 (293); Guernsey – 2,982 (3,309); Hamilton – 298 (306); Hancock – 402 (576); Hardin – 354(567); Harrison – 2,772 (3,547); Henry –279 (505); Highland – 1,432 (1,527); Hocking – 2,184 (2,138); Holmes – 2,013 (2,529); Huron – 925 (1,007); Jackson – 1,515 (1,742); Jefferson – 2,044 (2,564); Knox – 2,480 (3,141); Lake – 185 (178); Lawrence – 1,574 (1,449); Licking – 2,678 (3,003); Logan – 760 (845); Lorain – 739 (863); Lucas – 129 (164); Madison – 167 (185); Mahoning – 563 (672); Marion – 320 (428); Medina – 556 (633); Meigs – 1,974 (1,941); Mercer – 203 (248); Miami – 194 (212); Monroe – 1,960 (2,180); Montgomery – 144 (117); Morgan – 1,804 (1,962); Morrow – 851 (1,007); Muskingum – 3,223 (3,683); Noble – 2,028 (2,229); Ottawa – 81 (88); Paulding – 416 (610); Perry – 1,832 (2,126); Pickaway – 466 (570); Pike – 1,077 (1,102); Portage – 644 (740); Preble – 267 (253); Putnam – 238 (364); Richland – 1,714 (2,169); Ross – 1,723 (1,792); Sandusky – 195 (214); Scioto – 1,224 (1,250); Seneca – 603 (849); Shelby – 305(376); Stark – 661 (744); Summit – 151 (198); Trumbull – 1,060 (1,305); Tuscarawas – 3,180 (4,038), Union – 354 (391); Van Wert – 194 (358); Vinton – 1,577 (1,579); Warren – 412 (451); Washington – 2,225 (2,555); Wayne – 644 (869); Williams –787 (1,001); Wood – 208 (305); Wyandot – 661 (838); Total – 90,282 (105,034).

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn
Twiter: @Fieldkorn

Wildlife Division Fiscal Status In Fine Shape

While fisheries management carves out a large slice of the Ohio Division of Wildlife’s fiscal pie the state’s hunters still contribute more apples.

For Fiscal Year 2011 - which ran July 1, 2010 through June 30, 2011 - the Wildlife Division receipts from fishing license sales totaled $14.04 million while sales of general hunting licenses was worth $10.88 million.

However, in many instances hunters are required to purchase a special permit of one form or another in order to pursue select game. That is unlike fishing where anglers need only to buy a single license in order to catch everything from bullheads to walleye.

Besides the sales of general hunting licenses the Wildlife Division collected another $10.51 million from the sale of the state’s various deer tags, $2.47 million from the sale of both spring and fall turkey tags, and $341,186 for revenue from sales of the state waterfowl hunting stamp, which is required of both adult duck and goose hunters.

Along with all of these revenue sources was an important $12.23 million from the federal government’s aid to restoration projects program. This kitty supplies dollars for both fish and game management projects.

The state is reimbursed money from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for performing this work, the income derived from special excise taxes on various kinds of shooting, hunting, archery and fishing gear.

Another $2.21 million was collected from that portion of the state motor fuel tax as it relates to boating/fishing activity, $933,136 from sales of the voluntary wildlife diversity and endangered species fund program, and $3.3 million from other sources.

Money collected from fish and wildlife fines amounted to only one percent of the agency’s revenue stream; or $374,186.

On the expenditure side the agency spent $11.81 million for wildlife management projects, $11,046,659 for fisheries management work, $9.79 million for operating the Wildlife Division’s five district offices, $7.6 million in capital expenses, $7.3 million for wildlife officer pay and benefits, $6.2 million for law enforcement, $1.1 million for administration, and $4.1 for information and education.

Pull everything together and for fiscal 2011 and the Wildlife Division collected $56.3 million in revenue but spent $59.02 million in expenditures.

And while it looks like the Wildlife Division is operating with a deficit it really isn’t, says the agency’s fiscal administrator, Susan Howard.

“This all has something to do with how we get our federal reimbursement,” Howard said. “In Fiscal 2012 we’ll actually get $3.2 million that we thought we were going to get in Fiscal 2011.”

By far the greatest expense for the Wildlife Division goes for employee wages, salaries and benefits. These items account for between 55 and 60 percent of the Wildlife Division’s annual expenditures and are spread throughout the entire budgeting mechanism, Howard said.

Asked if such money movement complicates book keeping, Howard said “not really,” though she would like to see the application of just one annual accounting system.

Presently the Wildlife Division is forced to work with three different “calendars:” the state’s fiscal year, the actual calendar year as well as the license sales year, each of which start and end at different times.

“That would help,” Howard said.

But the agency’s accounting and management profile is such that the on-going process allows for mid-course corrections to accommodate both cash flow as well as expenses, Howard explained.

“That’s the way we’ve been doing things, at least ever since I’ve been here,” Howard said.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn
Twitter: @Fieldkorn

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Instant Steelhead Backdoor Access - And A Bargain To Boot!

If you’re a steelhead angler and are on the hunt for that perfect personal fishing hole where you can step out your back door and start casting then a small slice of heaven awaits you in Gates Mills.

The Howard Hanna real estate firm has put on the block a 3,016 square foot, five bedroom home that sits on 5.6 acres of green space bordering the steelhead trout-rich upper Chagrin River.

So removed is this home - which has hardwood floors and wormy chestnut woodwork - that its only access is by a single footbridge spanning the stream.

Yep, you can’t even drive up to the place, though the real estate firm’s bio of the property says that either a beefier car bridge can be built or else an access drive constructed from a nearby public street.

The Colonial-style home - built in 1923 - comes complete with an office, various white goods appliances, propane heat, vinyl siding, porch, basement, 14 rooms, two fireplaces and 2 1/2 bathrooms.

Currently the asking price is $399,000. Property taxes are valued at $4,608 annually and any kids (when they’re not out guiding lodged clients) would attend the nearby Mayfield School District.

For further information paste this web site and watch a video tour of the home and property and pick up some additional information:

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn
Twitter: @Fieldkorn

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

UPDATED: Rains wash away Opening Day deer hunter success

Drowned out by torrential rains that thoroughly drained much enthusiasm for the chase, Ohio’s approximately 420,000 white-tail hunters experienced a 39-percent decline in Monday’s opening day deer kill.

On Monday Ohio’s blaze orange army shot 23,600 white-tailed deer. Last year the open day figure was 39,071 animals.

Virtually every one of Ohio’s 88 counties posted a decline in the respective opening day deer kills. Thus the opening day preliminary figures show a decrease of 39 percent from last year’s opening day total kill.

Blame the weather, says the state’s deer biologists.

“Last year’s opening day harvest was exceptionally high. Even with ideal weather conditions, I’m sure this year’s harvest would have fallen short of the 2010 season simply because last year was an atypical season,” said Mike Tonkovich, the Ohio Division of Wildlife’s deer management administrator.

Tonkovich noted that the weather conditions on opening day in 2007 were so poor that the harvest was down an unprecedented 51 percent.

Count Don Schonauer of Chardon Township was being one of the successful opening day hunters. The owner of the popular Painesville-based taxidermy shop killed an eight-point that weighed about 225 pounds. He shot the deer at about 8:35 a.m. while hunting in Lake County.

“I went back out today (Tuesday) and I didn’t have one dry piece of clothes on me when I left the woods for lunch,” Schonauer said. “In fact it was worse today than it was Monday, and even my boots were full of water but I’ll be going back out tomorrow (Wednesday).”

Counties reporting the highest numbers of deer checked on Monday included: Coshocton - 1,197, Muskingum - 964, Tuscarawas - 896, Harrison - 882, Guernsey - 816, Knox - 719, Belmont - 629, Carroll -6 20, Holmes - 617, and Licking - 616.

Approximately 420,000 hunters are expected to participate in the statewide deer-gun season. Ohio’s deer population was estimated to be 750,000 prior to the start of the fall hunting seasons.

The white-tailed deer is the most popular game animal in Ohio, frequently pursued by generations of hunters. Ohio ranks 8th nationally in annual hunting-related sales and 10th in the number of jobs associated with the hunting-related industry.

Each year, hunting has an $859 million economic impact in Ohio through the sale of equipment, fuel, food, lodging and more.

Ohio’s firearms deer-hunting season remains open through Sunday, (Dec. 4). The statewide two-day “bonus” firearms deer-hunting season is set for Dec. 17 and 18.

Korey Brown, the Wildlife Division's administrator in charge of the license issuing system and deer check-in program - says very few snafus were encountered Monday with the new system.

"It ran smoothly and we didn't get slammed with a lot of complaints," Brown said. "People seem to be navigating the system well so we're pleased."

Also, on Monday the Ohio Division of Wildlife says that only two non-fatal hunting accidents - called "incidents" - were reported.

Here is a county-by-county listing of deer recorded for this year’s firearms season opener with last year’s opening day statistics in parentheses:

Adams – 395 (538); Allen – 67 (144); Ashland – 330 (563); Ashtabula –609 (1,057); Athens – 505 (779); Auglaize – 50 (81); Belmont –629 (971); Brown –244 (479); Butler –31 (136); Carroll –620 (1,042); Champaign – 112 (210); Clark – 43(97); Clermont – 150 (414); Clinton – 61 (129); Columbiana – 485 (833); Coshocton –1,197 (1,923); Crawford – 118 (186); Cuyahoga –4 (5); Darke –3 7 (88); Defiance – 261 (402); Delaware – 120 (233); Erie – 24 (53); Fairfield – 298 (432); Fayette – 21 (37); Franklin – 35 (43); Fulton – 109 (169); Gallia – 465(703); Geauga – 153 (265); Greene –40(88); Guernsey – 816 (1,260); Hamilton – 18 (75); Hancock – 105 (184); Hardin – 104 (191); Harrison – 882 (1,365); Henry – 78 (242); Highland – 299 (552); Hocking – 602(803); Holmes – 617 (1,087); Huron – 284(409); Jackson – 402 (671); Jefferson – 546 (900); Knox – 719 (1,315); Lake – 38 (54); Lawrence – 382 (494); Licking – 616 (1,117); Logan – 162 (316); Lorain – 167 (268); Lucas – 34 (53); Madison – 35 (68); Mahoning – 101 (239); Marion – 66 (132); Medina – 110 (171); Meigs – 499 (733); Mercer – 51 (99); Miami – 22 (53); Monroe – 532 (726); Montgomery – 16(46); Morgan – 458 (769); Morrow – 178 (356); Muskingum – 964 (1,523); Noble – 584 (825); Ottawa – 18 (23); Paulding – 128(247); Perry – 477 (750); Pickaway – 124 (216); Pike – 246 (407); Portage –144 (229); Preble – 46 (64); Putnam – 46 (139); Richland – 434 (750); Ross – 385 (579); Sandusky – 58 (59); Scioto – 278 (402); Seneca – 148 (329); Shelby – 87 (139); Stark – 153 (220); Summit – 22 (44); Trumbull – 315 (554); Tuscarawas –896 (1,494); Union 76 – (128); Van Wert – 45(104); Vinton – 468 (674); Warren – 66 (143); Washington – 503 (979); Wayne – 167 (304); Williams – 299 (485); Wood – 47 (89); Wyandot – 224 (324); TOTAL: 23,600 (39,071)

Fall turkey numbers drop/Hunters await Opening Day deer kill figures

With nearly every Ohio hunter’s attention drawn this week to white-tailed deer largely being over-looked are the results of the just-concluded fall wild turkey-hunting season.

And the figures continue to show slippage in popularity as the numbers of birds killed declines.

Ohio’s fall wild turkey season ended Nov. 27 with hunters bagging 1,375 during the seven-week season. Last year’s tally totaled 1,425 birds.
Ashtabula County again led the state with 67 birds taken, according to the Division of Wildlife.

The 2011 fall turkey season ran from Oct. 8 through Nov. 27 allowing hunters to pursue a wild turkey of either sex using a shotgun, muzzle-loading shotgun, bow or crossbow in 48 counties in the state.

Prior to the start of this fall’s hunting season, Ohio’s estimated wild turkey population was around 180,000. As many as 15,000 people - not counting private landowners hunting on their own land - participated.

The top 10 counties were: Ashtabula-67, Knox-55, Guernsey and Tuscarawas-53, Noble-50, Monroe-45, Coshocton-44, Holmes-42, Licking-40, and Carroll and Richland-39.

Still on the on-deck circle are Monday's Opening Day firearms deer-hunting season figures. These numbers should become available this afternoon.

The following is a list of wild turkeys taken during the 2010 fall turkey season is marked in parentheses: 2011 (2010).

Adams – 35 (29); Ashland – 17 (38); Ashtabula – 67 (77); Athens – 27 (18); Belmont –32 (11); Brown – 26 (28); Carroll – 39 (28); Clermont – 32 (44); Columbiana – 37 (35); Coshocton – 44 (68); Cuyahoga –0 (2); Defiance- 13 (25); Gallia – 36 (34); Geauga – 31 (53); Guernsey – 53 (39); Harrison – 38 (34); Highland – 37 (51); Hocking – 20 (17); Holmes – 42 (29); Jackson – 17 (22); Jefferson – 20 (25); Knox – 55 (62); Lake – 7 (4); Lawrence –21 (16); Licking – 40 (53); Lorain – 29 (15); Mahoning –24 (27); Medina –1 7 (24); Meigs – 15 (33); Monroe – 45 (15); Morgan – 23 (20); Morrow – 11 (13); Muskingum - 36 (32); Noble – 50 (34); Perry – 26 (25); Pike – 21 (10); Portage – 18 (23); Richland – 39 (31); Ross –19 (32); Scioto – 22 (12); Stark – 23 (19); Summit – 3 (8); Trumbull – 31 (60); Tuscarawas – 53 (56); Vinton – 21 (19); Washington – 24 (25); Wayne – 9 (8) and Williams - 27 (22). Preliminary totals – 1,375 (1,425).

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

UPDATED SUNDAY: A Look Ahead At Ohio Deer Gun Week Weather

Weather is an important component in the success of Ohio’s deer hunters, particularly those who hunt during the firearms season.

This year the often-called “Ohio deer gun season” runs Nov. 28 through Dec. 4 with a two-day “bonus” season set for Dec. 17 and 18.

A problem this week has been an ever-changing forecast, mostly not for the better. A general heavy rain has begun and is forcasted to extend into Tuesday with some areas of the state also may see snow. Amounts of two inches or more are anticipated as well.

Here is a look ahead weather-wise of what is forecasted to happen during next week’s Ohio firearms deer-hunting season. It is broken done by Ohio Division of Wildlife district by district.

I’ll be making an exception for Wildlife District Three (Northeast Ohio) simply because that is where I’ll be hunting in Ashtabula County.

Here is the fifth installment:

Wildlife District One (Columbus as base): Nov. 28 - 57 degrees and some rain; Nov. 29 - 51 degrees with rain; Nov. 30 - 42 degrees with rain or snow; Dec. 1 - 47 degrees with periods of sun; Dec. 2 - 42 degrees and partly sunny; Dec. 3- 43 degrees and mostly sunny; Dec. 4 - 48 degrees and p.m. rain.

Wildlife District Two (Findlay as base): Nov. 28 - 48 degrees and mostly cloudy with a shower possible; Nov. 29 - 48 degrees and breezy with rain possible; Nov. 30 - 41 degrees with periods of rain or snow; Dec. 1 - 44 degrees and mix of clouds and sun; Dec.2 - 41 degrees and partly sunny; Dec. 3 - 41 degrees and mostly sunny; Dec. 4 - 42 degrees and snow to rain.

Wildlife District Three (Akron): Nov. 28 - 54 degrees with rain; Nov. 29 - 54 degrees and breezy with rain; Nov. 30 - 41 degrees and cloudy; Dec. 1 - 42 degrees and partly cloudy; Dec. 2 - 39 degrees and snow possible; Dec. 3 -47 degrees and partly sunny; Dec. 4 - 45 and rain. (Rome/Ashtabula County): Nov. 28 - 62 degrees and mostly cloudy with rain possible; Nov. 29 - 53 degrees with decreasing rain; Nov. 30 - 43 degrees and with periods of sun; Dec. 3 - 46 degrees with periods of clouds and sun; Dec. 1 - 47 degrees and partly sunny; Dec. 2 - 44 degrees and sunny; Dec. 4 - 50 degrees and rain.

Wildlife District Four (Athens as base): Nov. 28 - 62 degrees with rain; Nov. 29 - 62 degrees with rain tapering off; Nov. 30 - 45 degrees with rain or snow; Dec. 1 - 46 degrees with periods of sun; Dec. 2 - 46 and partly sunny; Dec. 3 - 43 degrees and sunny; Dec. 4 - 49 degrees and rain.

Wildlife District Five (Xenia as base): Nov. 28 - 54 degrees and with some clouds and rain; Nov. 29 - 49 degrees with rain; Nov. 30 - 42 degrees with rain or snow; Dec. 1 - 43 degrees with periods of sun; Dec, 2 - 41 degrees and partly sunny; Dec. 3 - 42 degrees and sunny; Dec. 4 - 45 degrees with rain.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn
Twitter: @Fieldkorn

Monday, November 21, 2011

Kids Take Advantage Of Nice Weather For Youth-Only Deer Gun Season

With spring-like weather to aid them, Ohio’s young firearms deer hunters did well Saturday and Sunday.

For the special two-day, youth-only firearms deer-hunting season on those two days the young guns killed 8,681 animals. The previous year the youth brigade killed 8,445 deer.

Thus the young hunter scored a net gain of two percent.

Under Ohio law qualifying youngsters age 17 and younger could hunt deer with a shotgun, muzzle-loader or archery tackle.

Almost to a boy - or girl - the instrument of choice was a shotgun.

Adults also could hunt during this period but only use archery tackle and also had to follow the rule that required the wearing of blaze orange incorporated into an outer garment.

As for local success, a youthful deer hunter who can claim bragging rights is 13-year-old Kent Weber of Chardon Township who scored a direct hit on an eight-point buck while participating Sunday in the youth-only firearms two-day deer-hunting season. He was hunting on his uncle’s property, also in Chardon Township, when he killed the trophy buck.

Raw statistics snow that in Northeast Ohio during the two-day hunt that youngsters killed (with their respective 2010 season figures in parentheses): Ashtabula - 162 (136), Cuyahoga - 1 (1), Erie - 24 (37), Geauga - 67 (56), Huron - 92 (99), Lake - 7 (9), Lorain - 77 (86), Medina - 56 (43), Sandusky - 25 (33), Trumbull - 97 (100).

Among the notable deer-hunting counties were: Coshocton - 287 (277), Guernsey - 316 (248), Harrison - 227 (233), Knox - 214 (223), Licking - 248 (218), Muskingum - 277 (254), and Tuscarawas - 321 (277).

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn
Twitter: @Fieldkorn

Thursday, November 17, 2011

UPDATE 2: Kasich Plays Musical Chairs With ODNR

Ohio Gov. John Kasich has undertaken a seismic shift in power within the Natural Resources Department, playing either a great game of political musical chairs or else Russian Roulette with the agency.

He has brought in as the agency's new director the former director of the Ohio Department of Agriculture, Jim Zehringer.

In turn, Zehringer towed along two of his underling associates with him: Andy Ware and Frederick Shrimp.

Zehringer replaces Scott Zody who served as interim Natural Resources Director when former ODNR director David Mustine left to take a position with a quasi-governmental group that is promoting energy development in Ohio.

Now Zody has become the latest chief of the Ohio Division of Wildlife, replacing David Lane who has been demoted to assistant chief of that agency and in charge of Wildlife's five district offices.

Zody said the moves were natural fits, even though he becomes the first non-Wildlife Division official to ascend to the chief's post.

Importantly too, Zody says, the repositioning of Lane has nothing to do with his short tenure as the Wildlife Division's chief.

"There's been a little bit of a shake-up here but things are going well," Zody said. "Really, both the Governor and the new Director thought the best role for me would be in Wildlife. I'm looking forward to a more narrowed area of responsibilty and the new challenges."

Tom Rowan - former state wildlife officer assigned to Lake County - remains as the Wildlife Division's assistant chief in charge of law enforcement, fisheries and wildlife.

And Sue Howard - who had been the Wildlife Division's other assistant chief -now becomes the agency's business operations manager, responsible for human affairs, fiscal responsibilities as well as marketing the Wildlife Division. She relinquishes the role of managing the five district offices to Lane.

"We still have a mission to do; support the director and chief and make them proud," Rowan said also.

As for Ware this is not his first stint within the Natural Resources Department. He was once an agency spokesman, became the assistant chief for the Division of Forestry and eventually transferred to the Agricultural Department.

Now he is back in the Natural Resources Department where he will oversee not only Forestry but also the Division of Geological Survey and several other agencies.

Meanwhile, Shrimp will concern himself with the "day-to-day" operations of the Natural Resources Department.

In terms of Zehringer, the sum of his Natural Resources Department's experience includes a stint as a state representative, a livestock raiser and commercial fish hatchery owner.

Also, this change will do nothing to quiet the rumors that the Natural Resources Department will be enrolled within the Agricultural Department along with the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency.

If anything the changes only heighten this possibility, though Zody says that Kasich is now on the hunt to appoint a new Agriculture Department director.

This Blog will be updated as additional information is obtained.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn
Twitter: @Fieldkorn

Friday, November 11, 2011

Paperless Licenses Likely In Sportsmens' Future

While most hunters and anglers are still using the services of a licensing vendor to buy their documents the winds of change are beginning to blow.

Research conducted by and has found that 58 percent of those hunters surveyed still purchase their licenses through a retailer, while 61 percent of surveyed anglers bought theirs at a local store as well.

Retailers often count on their role as a sporting license vendor to lead to additional sales of hunting- and fishing-related equipment when consumers visit to buy a permit, the survey polling firm says.

At the same time the Southwick and Associates’ two-survey program say that as many as 24 percent of hunters and 25 percent of surveyed anglers reported purchasing licenses online.

Which hardly surprises Korey Brown, the Ohio Division of Wildlife administrator in charge of Ohio’s all-new Internet-based license-issuing system.

Additionally, more than 17 percent of hunters and just over 14 percent of fishermen bought permits directly through a game agency or government office or through some other source.

“Although paperless licensing is not a stated goal, it is certainly in the conversation,” Brown says.

“The day that we can bridge the communications gap - guaranteeing that law enforcement officers have 100-percent cell phone coverage and/or have the ability to remotely access the central license database, is the day we’ll begin to talk seriously about paperless licensing.”

Brown bases this assumption partially on what has happened to the airline industry. In the span of just the past 10 years the airline industry went from mandatory multi-layered paper-tickets to mandatory paperless e-tickets, Brown said.

“Against this backdrop, paperless hunting and fishing licenses don’t seem all that farfetched,” Brown said.

Indeed it does not, agrees Rob Southwick, President of Southwick and Associates.

“Retail license purchases will probably never die,” Southwick says. “However, the proliferation of high speed internet connectivity, the widespread acceptance of e-commerce, and the incredible increase in smart-phone usage indicate that it’s just a matter of time before Internet purchases eclipse retail purchases as the most popular method of transacting.”

And yet Southwick notes that even though every state game agency in the country now providing regulations, season dates, bag limits and other hunting and fishing information online - as well as the popularity of digital products such as websites, apps, mobile phones and smart tablets - “it is interesting to note that the printed regulations book remains a critical resource to today’s hunter and angler.”

“More than 84 percent of surveyed hunters said they had received or expect to receive the regulations booklet,” said Southwick. “And of that number, a whopping 96 percent said they have read or plan to read the booklet, with more than 54 percent revealing they read it more than once and nearly 24 percent citing they use it as a resource throughout the season.”

On the fishing side, 89 percent of survey respondents said they have read or plan to read the regulations booklet, with more than 54 percent revealing they read it more than once and 17 percent saying they use it as a resource all season, says Southwick.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn
Twitter: @Fieldkorn

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Huge increase in duplicate hunting/fishing license sales explained

With more than 21,000 duplicate hunting and fishing licenses having thus far been sold the numbers far exceed those of any previous year.

For hunting licenses alone the number of duplicate documents issued jumped nearly 236 percent for the eight-month period of February 15 to October 31 this year when compared to last year for the same time frame.

In all, the number of duplicate hunting licenses issued was 9,915. For the same period in 2010 that number was 3,937.

The number of duplicate fishing licenses likewise climbed; in this case by a factor of 97 percent, reports the Ohio Division of Wildlife.

“So far this year we have issued over 21,000 duplicate licenses and permits; a significant increase over last year,” said Korey Brown, the Wildlife Division’s administrator in charge of the agency’s new license-issuing system.

Brown attributes the large volume increase to two major factors. Those being:

n The switch to plain paper license stock which has resulted in more destroyed license documents.

In this case, hunters and anglers are reminded to protect their license documents, Brown says.

“We believe hunters and anglers will eventually adapt to the new license stock which will lead to a decrease in duplicate license issuances,” Brown said.

n The new WOCRMS is a real-time transaction automation system whereas the old license-issuing system was a “store-and-forward system,” Brown said.

Our network of 900-plus license sales agents are still familiarizing themselves with the new system,” Brown said.

“Next year we plan to implement changes to the software that should reduce the number of duplicate license issuances.”

Yet even with these minor glitches, Brown says, the WOCRMS system “puts the Division of Wildlife in a position to deliver products and services via multiple distribution channels with relative ease.” These “multiple distribution channels” include traditional retail sales outlets (license agents), the Internet, the telephone, and eventually smart-phone applications, or “mobile applications.”

“However, before we implement any change as it relates to the issuance of license and permits, we must ensure adherence to Ohio Administrative Code, which dictates the process by which duplicate licenses and permits are issued,” Brown said.

“The Ohio Division of Wildlife will continually review various sections of (Ohio law) and propose changes designed to improve product and service delivery, and take full advantage of an extremely powerful WOCRMS tool.”

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn
Twiter: @Fieldkorn

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Dip In Ohio Hunting/Fishing License Sales

Sales of both Ohio hunting and fishing licenses took hits when compared to the same eight-month period one year ago.

This shortfall resulted in a decline of revenue of nearly $1.5 million for the Ohio Division of Wildlife.

For the period Feb. 15 through Oct. 31 this year, the Wildlife Division issued a total of 788,990 fishing documents of all kinds for a total revenue of $13,978,700.

For the same period in 2010 the agency issued 867,065 documents for a revenue stream of $15,228,928.

The greatest drop came in the sale of resident fishing licenses; a drop of 58,233 permits that turned into a loss of nearly $1.11 million.

In all, 651,811 resident annual fishing licenses were sold during the eight-month period in 2010 while 593,578 such documents were issued for the same period this year, reports the Wildlife Division.

Also off were sales of three-day non-resident fishing licenses (off 14.19 percent), annual non-resident fishing licenses (off 4.95 percent), and one-day fishing licenses (off 8.96 percent).

Up, however, were sales of duplicate fishing licenses by a whopping 47.81 percent for an increase of $19,536 in revenue to the agency.

“Between the rains this spring along with high gas prices this summer, license sales were down,” said Susan Howard, one of two Wildlife Division assistant chiefs.

Factor in as well the algae blooms that plagued Lake Erie toward summer’s end and into autumn, said Howard also.

“It was not a good mix for license sales,” she said.

The bottom line is that Lake Erie drives fishing license sales in Ohio. And with that being said, other Great Lakes states also experienced poor weather which seemed to have caused lowered fishing license sales, too.

“That’s what I’m hearing,” Howard said.

Hunting license sales were likewise down, though not by nearly as much. For the period of Feb. 15, 2010 through Oct. 31, 2010, the Wildlife Division sold 192,587 resident hunting licenses.

By comparison, during this same eight-month time frame this year the agency issued 182,844 resident hunting licenses, resulting in a dip of $185,117, says the Wildlife Division.

There are many more categories of hunting licenses and tags than types of fishing licenses and most of the former saw only modest declines. For example, the sale of fall turkey permits dropped by 577 documents for a decline of $13,848 in revenue.

And sales of Ohio’s “duck stamp” similarly declined. Here, for the eight-month recording period in 2010 the Wildlife Division issued 19,058 stamps but sold 18,580 stamps for the same accounting period this year. This drop resulted in a decline of $7,170 in revenue.

Also off - but only slightly - were sales of both the either sex deer tags and the antler-only deer permits.

For the eight-month period in 2010 the Wildlife Division sold 156,308 either-sex deer tags while for the same time frame this year the agency issued 154,417 permits. This drop resulted in a decline of only $45,384 in revenue.

And sales of the antlerless-only tags took a slight hit as well. Here, during the eight-month 2010 accounting period the Wildlife Division sold 89,664 antlerless-only tags, a figure that fell to 87,822 permits this year for the same period. This drop resulted in a loss of only $27,630 in revenue for the agency.

Like it was for the sale of duplicate fishing license the issuance of duplicate hunting licenses soared.

Conversely, in 2010 the Wildlife Division issued 3,937 duplicate hunting licenses of all kinds for the eight-month recording period. That figured rose to 9,915 duplicate permits issued for the same period this year and for a net gain of $27,849, almost wiping out the deficit seen in the decline in sale of antlerless-only tags.

In all, sales of the Wildlife Division’s shopping cart of hunting/trapping-related licenses, stamps, permits and tags dropped by 21,763 documents.

In all, revenues from the sale of all hunting/trapping related licenses, tags, permits and stamps was $13,806,798 for this year’s eight-month recording period. In 2010 that figure was $14,003,207.

As for an explanation as to why a very modest decline in the sale of various hunting licenses was seen, Howard says “it’s still too early to tell.”

“I think with the good weather we’re having now the numbers may pick up a lot,” Howard said.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn
Twiter: @Fieldkorn

Monday, November 7, 2011

Ohio's archery deer hunters behind last year's to-date totals

Ohio’s bow hunters recorded an 11 percent drop in the number of animals taken during the first six weeks of the state’s archery deer-hunting season.

The first six-week kill for this year was 45,836 deer during compared to last year’s kill of 51,543, for the same period, reports the Ohio Division of Wildlife.

The archery season started September 24 and will continue through February 5, 2012.
Counties reporting the highest numbers of deer brought to check stations were: Licking - 1,836, Coshocton - 1,522, Tuscarawas - 1,259, Ashtabula - 1,143, Holmes - 1,101, Knox- 1,092, Muskingum - 1,060, Guernsey - 1,045, and Hamilton and Trumbull - 977(tied).

Ohio's deer population was estimated to be 750,000 in early October. Approximately 345,000 bow hunters are expected to participate in the statewide deer-archery hunting season.

Bow hunters harvested a total of 85,012 deer during last year’s four-month Ohio archery season.

Here is a list of deer checked and tagged by hunters during the first six weeks of the current deer-archery hunting season. The number taken during the 2010 season is marked in parentheses:

Adams – 945 (931); Allen – 290 (369); Ashland – 676 (779); Ashtabula – 1,143 (1,248); Athens – 709 (719); Auglaize – 213 (221); Belmont – 488 (670); Brown – 608 (702); Butler – 538 (591); Carroll – 773 (957); Champaign – 442 (455); Clark – 253 (290); Clermont – 939 (1,060); Clinton – 234 (283); Columbiana – 699 (814); Coshocton – 1,522 (1,776); Crawford – 257 (281); Cuyahoga – 303 (320); Darke –264 (247); Defiance – 371 (441); Delaware – 492 (610); Erie – 188 (221); Fairfield – 571 (634); Fayette – 50 (75); Franklin – 291 (289); Fulton – 214 (251); Gallia – 451 (589); Geauga – 748 (786); Greene – 338 (327); Guernsey – 1,045 (1,183); Hamilton – 977 (867); Hancock – 284 (377); Hardin – 273 (322); Harrison – 902 (1,144); Henry – 161 (180); Highland – 666 (754); Hocking – 704 (752); Holmes – 1,101 (1,328); Huron – 523 (502); Jackson – 626 (694); Jefferson – 494 (739); Knox – 1,092 (1,222); Lake – 262 (263); Lawrence – 446 (525); Licking – 1,836 (1,912); Logan – 616 (644); Lorain – 691 (795); Lucas – 237 (205); Madison – 136 (157); Mahoning – 545 (537); Marion – 189 (203); Medina – 584 (617); Meigs – 564 (646); Mercer – 178 (203); Miami – 271 (303); Monroe – 419 (487); Montgomery – 233 (253); Morgan – 443 (520); Morrow –424 (436); Muskingum – 1,060 (1,182); Noble – 530 (640); Ottawa – 133 (143); Paulding – 233 (338); Perry – 494 (524); Pickaway – 204 (230); Pike – 426 (471); Portage – 748 (771); Preble –273 (265); Putnam – 193 (269); Richland – 945 (1,113); Ross –597 (695); Sandusky – 250 (269); Scioto – 512 (541); Seneca – 404 (459); Shelby – 262 (303); Stark – 543 (613); Summit – 515 (543); Trumbull – 977 (1,016); Tuscarawas – 1,259 (1,483); Union –223 (240); Van Wert – 154 (187); Vinton – 496 (583); Warren – 511 (551); Washington – 467 (542); Wayne – 501 (622); Williams – 542 (621); Wood – 180 (261); Wyandot – 272 (362); Total – 45,836 (51,543).

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn
Twitter: @Fieldkorn

Ghosts Return To Haunt For Small-Game Opener

You’d be impressed as you watched Millie deeply inhaling the exotic odor of the male ring-necked pheasant.

Her nostrils flared at the scent, enriched by the newfangled odor. The black Labrador retriever also gave some gurgling sounds as she tried to both breath and at the same time trot her way back to me.

The pheasant wasn’t going anywhere. A seven-eighths ounce of number six shot propelled from my 28-guage Remington shotgun ensured that anchorage.

It was opening day of Ohio’s small-game hunting season; the first for Millie, a transplanted Alaskan by way of Washington State. That’s a long way from here to there but I had eagerly sought this day together for months.

And not just because I’d be hunting with a new companion to join Berry (my other black Labrador) but also for the reason that I like to hunt things that wear feathers even more than I do things that wear fur.

Opening Day has always carved out a favored spot in my heart, going back to the late 1950s and into the mid-1960s. That’s when I started out carrying a Daisy air-rifle and later, a borrowed 16-guage double-barreled shotgun.

My partners included my two older brothers, Terry and Rich. We would hitch our hunting wagon to our father and sometimes, our Uncle Val.

Oh, I can’t forget the dogs, either. There were Rusty and Munk and Penny and Moochie and Pepper; beagles all.

Those were the days when rabbits held high esteem and what few pheasant we did find were true wild birds, not the remnants of a bird dog field trial.

No matter nowadays, though. The dogs don’t care and if you really want to know, neither do I. That is, not on Opening Day.

Problem is, however, I’m one of a diminishing crew. Every year there appears to be fewer and fewer small-game hunters out on Opening Day. It seems that is the case, anyway, given how few vehicles were observed pulled off the highway and into places where you’d expect to see a hunter.

So the opener is greeted both with good cheer and a bit of melancholy. Neither Terry nor Rich have taken in a small-game opener since I don’t know when.

And Dad and Uncle Val both passed on more than 30 years ago.

But their ghosts still come each and every small-game season opener. I can see them as blurs moving through the shadows of a woodlot now almost totally barren of leaves.

I can see all of the dogs as well - hounds, pointers and retrievers - accompanying us in the spangled glint of light that reflects off polished, dried corn stalks and mirrored on the surface of beaver ponds.

They are my companion now, these ghosts that hang close and cling to our walk through the fields and forests.

I swear I can hear too the tinkling of the collar bell worn by Suzie, the pointer, or catch the flash of Rebel and Miss Daisy as they help scout out the ragweed patch ahead of Millie and Berry.

They don’t see her, Millie and Berry, that is. And I also snatched a glimpse of Jenny Lynn, the latest of my dogs to enter my personal hunting netherworld.

I guess I could be sad at having so many ghosts around on a day that should be about having fun and enjoying another small-game hunting season opener.

I am not, though. If anything, I am comforted at the thought of being around them, finding peace in the joy of having known giants among men and owning dogs that knew more about running a rabbit or finding a pheasant than I’ll ever be capable of understanding.

Nope, my ghosts are real and I look forward to our annual visit together every first Friday in November.

That others have decided to herald the remarkable incline of the white-tailed deer and the wild turkey more than they have sorrowed over the decline of the ring-necked pheasant is for those hunters to sort out.

As long as I have the heart, the lung power and my wobbly legs and back hold up I’ll be there on Opening Day. Ghosts and all.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn
Twiter: @Fieldkorn

Friday, November 4, 2011

Elk Shot In Geauga County; What's Next From Pennsylvania?

It’s been a coon’s age since the last wild elk had been killed in Ohio.

That changed a bit Wednesday when a Geauga County farmer saw a bull elk in his Parkman Township field.

When given the green light by the Ohio Division of Wildlife that elk are not a protected species here the farmer bagged the bull, adding a few hundred pounds of prime meat to his freezer.

After the animal’s remains are checked out for chronic wasting disease (CWD), that is. That is because elk have been known to be infected with the prion-based brain disorder disease.

Just how the elk came to be in Geauga County is easier to explain than how an elephant got into Grocho Marx’s pajamas.

It seems that the elk is an escapee from an elk-rearing farm in western Pennsylvania.

Wildlife Division officials said that the animal headed west, through Ashtabula County and made its last, fatal, stop in Geauga County.

Exotic ungulates are uncommon in Northeast Ohio though not totally unheard of. Sometimes sika deer are shot by Lake County hunters.

These exotic Asian deer are the remnants or offspring of sikas that escaped from an estate in Leroy Township.

Nor was the elk the only game species that chose to visit Ohio. In most cases where a black bear is seen in Northeast Ohio it is the result of a young male animal that has been booted out by its mother and is looking to set up housekeeping on his own.

Likewise the Geauga Park District notes in its latest “Snow Belted” exhibit at the West Woods Reservation that it is only a matter of time before porcupines migrate west from Pennsylvania and into Northeast Ohio.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn
Twiter: @Fieldkorn

Thursday, November 3, 2011

ODNR Seeks To Set Record Straight Regarding Brown County

The Ohio Department of Natural Resources is responding that it harbors no ill will against Brown County Prosecutor Jessica A. Little.

In a two-page final disciplinary report signed Oct. 28 was the statement: “...
This became an issue because of ODNR’s history with Brown County. Brown County is displeased that they were unsuccessful in bringing charges against ODNR employees for a previous issue involving a wildlife officer. Therefore they want to find fault with ODNR when possible. Management in turn is fearful of Brown County and wants to protect themselves from appearing to have done something wrong...”

In her telephone response to a query made by The News-Herald, Little said that she didn’t “appreciate that we’re being accused of a ‘witch hunt against Allan Wright’” and that “There’s no animosity toward the department.”

To which Natural Resources Department spokeswoman Laura Jones replied late Wednesday that the actual two-page letter clearly spells out the belief that Brown County was displeased at not being able to find fault with Wright was his and his union representative’s position and not that of the ODNR.

“Somewhere along the lines there was a misunderstanding,” Jones said.

That misunderstanding likely came with my communication with Little where “who said what” was not so clearly defined.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn
Twiter: @Fieldkorn

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Brown County Prosecutor Takes Issue With ODNR Accusations

Brown County Prosecutor Jessica A. Little bristles at accusations that her office has a “vendetta” against former state wildlife officer Allan Wright or even the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.

Her reaction follows an October 28 Natural Resources Department Hearing Officer’s Report regarding Wright, who was fired by the agency for alleged departmental rule violations.

In that report the hearing officer - ODNR Human Capital Management Senior Analyst Renee Norris - wrote: “... This became an issue because of ODNR’s history with Brown County. Brown County is displeased that they were unsuccessful in bringing charges against ODNR employees for a previous issue involving a wildlife officer. Therefore they want to find fault with ODNR when possible. Management in turn is fearful of Brown County and wants to protect themselves from appearing to have done something wrong...”

“I don’t appreciate that we’re being accused of a ‘witch hunt’ against Allan Wright,” Little said today; Wednesday. “There’s no animosity toward the department.”

Little said also that Wright is not even a subject of any work being conducted by her office.

In fact, says Little, the special prosecutor that Little named in 2010 is no longer investigating Wright.

“We’re finished with Allan Wright,” Little said. “So there is no need to do anything (more) in Brown County."

That is because Wright has been charged in federal court for alleged violations of U.S. fish and game laws.

As for the case against five current or retired Ohio Division of Wildlife officials, that matter is still before Ohio’s 12th District Court of Appeals. That case has ties to the Wright issue but does not include Wright himself.

Little said also that should she win in the appellate court that the matter against the current and retired Wildlife Division officials would move back to Brown County.

If she is rebuffed by the 12th Court of Appeals than Brown County will evaluate taking the next step.

“It all likelihood this (case) will be appealed to the state supreme court,” Little said.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn
Twitter: @Fieldkorn

Hearing Report Document On Former ODW Office Allan Wright

On October 25 now former state wildlife officer assigned to Brown County Allan Wright was accorded a pre-disciplinary hearing before officials with the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.

Among the state officials was Patrick Brown, a Natural Resources Department staff officer. It was Brown who conducted the investigation into Wright’s case.

Wright was represented at the hearing by Fraternal Order of Police union representative Joel Barden.

The final disciplinary report was signed Oct. 28 by Natural Resources Department Human Capital Management (HCM) Senior Analyst Renee Norris.

Here is the complete text of that report as provided by the Natural Resources Department.

Jeffrey L. Frischkorn
Twitter: @Fieldkorn

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

UPDATED Allan Wright fired by ODNR, to appeal decision

Allan Wright - the legally embattled former state wildlife officer assigned to Brown County - has been fired by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.

In a one-page letter dated Oct. 28, 2011 interim Natural Resources Director Scott A. Zody wrote:

“As a result of your recent per-disciplinary hearing held on October 25, 2011, you were found guilty of violating the following provisions of the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) Disciplinary Policy:

* B. Dishonesty - (2) Willfully falsifying... any official document.

* D. Failure of Good Behavior - (4) Misuse of and/or carelessness with state property....

* Commissioned Officers: A. Law Enforcement - (1) Violation of Uniformed Officer’s Code of Conduct.

“Therefore, you are being removed from your Wildlife Officer position with the ODNR-Division of Wildlife effective the date of your receipt of this letter.”

Laura Jones, chief spokeswoman for the Natural Resources Department, said that Wright has filed a grievance related to this latest action.

This action also falls on the legal heels of Wright being first placed on unpaid administrative leave in August, reinstated to paid administrative leave and according to rules governed by the Ohio Revised Code.

However, the Natural Resources Department declined to write any paychecks to Wright.

That matter likewise is being appealed by the Fraternal Order Of Police, the bargaining unit for the Ohio Division of Wildlife’s commissioned officers.

In 2006 Wright allowed a South Carolina wildlife officer to use his Ohio address to obtain a resident Ohio hunting license, among other matters.

A chain reaction of legal issues have since enveloped others within the Ohio Division of Wildlife who either have retired or else remain aboard the agency.

Wright - who is also under indictment for felony and misdemeanor violations of the federal government’s Lacey Act - is slated to stand trial in federal court Feb. 22, 2012.

Wright agree to state complaints that he allowed a South Carolina wildlife officer to use his Ohio address to obtain a resident state hunting license.

He subsequently was given a written reprimand which was eventually expunged.

That set into legal motion charges being brought against five current or retired Ohio Division of Wildlife officials.

The cases involving these officials remains pending before Ohio’s 12th District Court of Appeals.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Monday, October 31, 2011

Wildlife, Watercraft Tapped First To Assist In Exotic Animal Reporting Program

The Ohio Division of Wildlife and the Ohio Division of Watercraft are contributing employee time and expertise to assist in manning a toll-free hotline and companion website for Ohioans to report suspected instances of neglect or abuse of dangerous wild animals in Ohio.

However, Ohio Department of Natural Resources’ spokeswoman Laura Jones said the effort by the two divisions will be short term, likely for just this week.

After that other Natural Resources division personnel will take over, Jones said.

Natural Resources Director Scott Zody announced today the new hotline and website as products of Gov. John R. Kasich’s October 21 Executive Order to better use existing laws and resources while specific legal authorities are being developed to protect public health and animal welfare.

ODNR will staff the hotline between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday and work with other authorities to take the appropriate follow-up actions when reports are made.

The new toll-free hotline is 855-DWA-OHIO, and the companion website is They can be accessed by Ohioans to report suspected instances of neglect or abuse of dangerous wild animals in Ohio.

Long-term, some sportsmen’s groups fear that either an administration or a legislature will tap the hunter/angler/trapper-funded Ohio Wildlife Fund to administer, enforce and maintain an exotic animal licensing and monitoring program.

However, Jones says that for this current administration at least no such raid on the Wildlife Fund is being proposed.

And it will be up to the state legislature to figure out to perform that mission, Jones said also.

Other actions underway that were initiated by the Executive Order include:

• Partnering with Local Law Enforcement: Ohio state agencies are partnering with local health departments, Buckeye State Sheriff’s Association and other law enforcement agencies across the state to identify known locations of captive dangerous wild animals and provide the support they need to enforce existing animal cruelty and public health laws.

• Partnering with Local Humane Societies: To better leverage the powerful authority that existing Ohio laws give humane societies, the Ohio Department of Agriculture (ODA) reached out to statewide member organizations of the Ohio Federated Humane Society members and all designated county humane officers to support their efforts to exercise their power to enforce animal cruelty rules and offer training in biosecurity measures and animal health guidelines.

• Identifying Potential Problems: ODNR is developing a database of locations where dangerous wild animals are known to be kept.

• Combatting Auctions: The Ohio Department of Agriculture (ODA) has issued 3,550 letters to licensed auctioneers requesting that they voluntarily suspend sales of dangerous wild animals.

• Quarantine on the Surviving Thompson Animals: ODA issued a quarantine order on Thursday, October 27 to assure that the three leopards, two macaque monkeys, and grizzly bear currently housed at the Columbus Zoo are healthy and free of any disease and parasites before being moved from that facility.

• Site Inspections: Two facilities with dangerous wild animals on the premises have been inspected. One was a joint assessment that included ODA, ODNR, and the US Department of Agriculture and the second was conducted by the ODNR Division of Wildlife. ODNR continues its review of native species permit holders across the state.

Also, the Natural Resources Department is developing a database of locations where dangerous wild animals are known to be kept.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Federal trial date set for DOW officer Allan Wright

What began back in 2006 for Allan Wright, the-then state wildlife officer assigned to Brown County, will extend into at least 2012.

Wright - who is under indictment for felony and misdemeanor violations of the federal government’s Lacey Act - won’t see a trial in federal court until Feb. 22, 2012.

Wright agree to state complaints that he allowed a South Carolina wildlife officer to use his Ohio address to obtain a resident state hunting license.

He subsequently was given a written reprimand which was eventually expunged.

That action set in legal motion charges being brought against five current or retired Ohio Division of Wildlife officials.

The cases involving these officials remains pending before Ohio’s 12th District Court of Appeals.

However, Wright had been reinstated to his Wildlife Division post, only to be placed on unpaid administrative leave in August when he was charged in federal court for the alleged Lacy Act infractions.

Based on Ohio law, Wright remained on that status for a two-month period before being elevated to paid administrative leave, though the Ohio Department of Natural Resources continues to refuse to pay Wright his wages.

In turn the Ohio Fraternal Order of Police has filed an appeal against the Natural Resources Department, demanding that Wright be awarded his wages, including back pay.

The FOP is the bargaining agent for the Wildlife Division’s commissioned officers.

All of which remains in legal limbo at this time.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Friday, October 28, 2011

Allan Wright back on paid administrative leave, no checks being written

Allan Wright, the former state wildlife officer assigned to Brown County, has been reinstated to paid administrative leave though the Ohio Department of Natural Resources still refuses to issue a paycheck.

This action by the Natural Resources Department has prompted the Fraternal Order of Police - the union that represents Ohio Division of Wildlife commissioned officers - to file a grievance against the Natural Resources Department.

Wright was placed on unpaid administrative leave upon his federal indictment for alleged violations of federal fish and game laws.

He is at the heart of an issue that began several years ago when Wright allowed a South Carolina wildlife officer to use his Ohio address to obtain a resident Ohio hunting license, among other matters.

That activity subsequently set off a chain reaction of legal issues that have since enveloped others within the Ohio Division of Wildlife who either have retired or else remain aboard the agency.

As positioned by the Natural Resources Department, the laws governing unpaid and paid administrative leave are spelled out in the Ohio Revised Code. Relating to Wright these points are, and as noted by a spokeswoman for the agency:

Per the ORC, a period of unpaid administrative leave may not exceed 2 months:
124.388 [First of two versions] Administrative leave.

(A) An appointing authority may, in its discretion, place an employee on administrative leave with pay. Administrative leave with pay is to be used only in circumstances where the health or safety of an employee or of any person or property entrusted to the employee’s care could be adversely affected. Compensation for administrative leave with pay shall be equal to the employee’s base rate of pay. The length of administrative leave with pay is solely at the discretion of the appointing authority, but shall not exceed the length of the situation for which the leave was granted. An appointing authority may also grant administrative leave with pay of two days or less for employees who are moved in accordance with section 124.33 of the Revised Code.

(B) An appointing authority may, in its discretion, place an employee on administrative leave without pay for a period not to exceed two months, if the employee has been charged with a violation of law that is punishable as a felony. If the employee subsequently does not plead guilty to or is not found guilty of a felony with which the employee is charged or any other felony, the appointing authority shall pay the employee at the employee’s base rate of pay, plus interest, for the period the employee was on the unpaid administrative leave.

The Natural Resources spokeswoman further said in an email:

“(The) ODNR did not move administratively because it needed to wait to see how the federal criminal case was going to play out. Mr. Wright had his pre-disciplinary hearing on October 25. Once a report on that hearing is written, it will include a recommendation for action.

“Mr. Wright filed a grievance during this process and because of that we are bound by his Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) contract to put him back on paid administrative leave.”

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Fears Are That Ohio's Sportsmen Will Pay For Regulating Exotic Animals

With Ohio moving to regulate the ownership and sale of exotic wild animals a leading pro-sportsmen’s group worries that the state’s hunters, anglers and trappers will be left paying the bill.

The Columbus-based U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance says it’s not responsible for draft enabling legislation that would establishing a permitting program. That effort is being undertaken by a small cadre of officials.

Under this still largely hush-hush proposal the state would empower and command the Ohio Division of Wildlife to enforce new rules regarding the ownership and sale of such exotic, non-indigenous, dangerous animals as African lions, great apes, tigers and even chimpanzees.

Published reports by the Columbus Dispatch say that material is now being worked on by a group of stake holders that would mandate that the Wildlife Division’s chief “...shall do all things necessary...” to regulate the ownership, sale, bartering and such like of exotic wild animals.

While the USSA has been a participant in the discussions regarding the status of the exotic animal trade and ownership issue in Ohio, it has not been part of the drafting of legislation that would establishes an exotic animal ownership permitting program, says Rob Sexton, the Alliance’s vice president of government affairs.

A bundle of significant problems exists, Sexton says.

Among them are no one knows how many exotic wild animals are out there, how many people own them nor what any administrative fee might be.

And that last thorn could prick sportsmen’s dollars. The reason being is that the Wildlife Division is funded solely by the sale of hunting, fishing and trapping licenses and permits along with a portion of a federal tax on firearms, ammunition, archery equipment and fishing tackle.

“What we’re worried about is that all of this will be tossed into the laps of sportsmen,” Sexton says. “It does appear that Ohio’s hunters, anglers and trappers could be stuck paying for the permits for people who own tigers, lions and grizzly bears - this is a major, major concern.”

That is because such a permitting process may not be affordable for individual exotic animal owners and sellers. Consequently, such a potential fee could so steep that no one could afford it and, thus, not be adopted, Sexton said.

Such a scenario could see an administration or a state legislature eying the Wildlife Division’s budget and funding sources as a means to compensate for the difference, Sexton says.

Since this is a state safety issue and not one of actual management of non-captive wild animals, any additional costs beyond a permit fee must come from the state’s General Revenue funding stream and not from sportsmen’s dollars, Sexton says.

“Given the track record of the legislature and the current situation with the state budget and the economy, nothing can be taken for granted,” said a very concerned Sexton

“But what we don’t want is for the sportsmen and sportswomen of Ohio to think for one minute that the U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance is involved with a (deleted) plan that would tap sportsmen’s dollars.”

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Monday, October 24, 2011

Is electronic federal duck stamp in waterfowlers' future?

With almost every state having accepted electronic license, permit and stamp sales the federal government still has its feet firmly planted in the last century.

Now Ducks Unlimited is backing a proposal to allow for the elctronic sale of the required $15 federal waterfowl hunting stamp.

And a representative of the organization will testify on Tuesday about H.R. 3117, the Permanent Electronic Duck Stamp Act of 2011.

This proposal will grant the U.S. Secretary of the Interior permanent authority to authorize states to issue electronic duck stamps.

Buying a federal duck stamp is mandatory for waterfowl hunting.

However, in the past, waterfowl hunters and other outdoor enthusiasts could only buy their duck stamp at a physical location, such as a post office. But these stamps are not available at all postal locations, sometimes making it difficult for hunters and others to purchase the stamps.

In order to expand access to the public, legislation was passed to create a pilot program that allows the public to purchase federal duck stamps online. Upon purchase, the customer was given a special receipt to use while hunting until the stamp is delivered by mail.

The pilot program has successfully made it easier for the general public to buy federal duck stamps while simultaneously preserving the integrity of the traditional duck stamp.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn