Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Bucks beginning to shed their velvet

The velvet gloves are coming of Ohio’s bucks, so to speak.

Over the next several days Ohio’s male white-tailed deer will begin to scrape off the blood-rich velvet sheaths that have nourished the growing antlers.

And these antlers now are in a stage where they are no longer “soft” but have begun to harden. Later in autumn these antlers will become formidable tools that bucks will use to impress interested does and intimidate other bucks.

Antler growth begins early in the spring with velvet “bumps” starting as early as March, says Damon Greer, wildlife biologist with the Ohio Division of Wildlife.

“That’s when the antlers begin to rebud,” Greer said.

These antlers also are among the fastest-growing tissues; from start to finish the entire process may take only six months with maximum daily growth being up to one-half inch.

Greer did say also that a 18-month-old buck deer born in the early part of spring will lose its velvet sooner than a buck that was born later in the spring.

“That might even transfer into later age, though I’m not entirely certain,” Greer said.

What is sure, says Greer, is that this is the time of the year when a buck’s testosterone levels are increasing, culminating in what’s commonly referred to as the “rut.”

In Ohio the peak of the rut is a few days either side of Veteran’s Day. This is when the bucks are most likely to encounter a doe that is ready to be bred.

“My belief is that the peak of the rut is when a buck is chasing a doe in your neighborhood,” Greer said with a chuckle.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

AG Mike DeWine is seeking help to stop invasive species

Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine today announced efforts by Great Lakes attorneys general to expand their coalition to combat invasive species. DeWine joined attorneys general from New York, Michigan, Minnesota, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin in sending a letter to 25 other states asking them to join in demanding immediate action by federal authorities to develop a permanent barrier halting the spread of and damage caused by aquatic invasive species.

"Lake Erie, like so many Midwestern waterways, is especially susceptible to invasive species like Asian carp and zebra mussels. As a long-time advocate for the preservation of the Great Lakes and Ohio waterways, I know it is of vital importance that our region unites to stop the advancement of all invasive species," said Attorney General DeWine.

Invasive species are species of plants and animals not native to a particular habitat. When introduced to new habitats, they can cause extensive damage to the existing ecosystem. Many aquatic invasive species were brought to the Great Lakes in ocean water discharged by ships.

The coalition led by the Great Lakes attorneys general is requesting the federal government develop a permanent ecological separation at the conjunction of the Great Lakes and the Mississippi River basins, which occurs at the Chicago Area Waterway System.

A recent study commissioned by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers identified the canal as the major pathway for the spread of invasive species. The Corps released a list of 40 aquatic invasive species with the highest risk of traveling through the waterway; 30 are high-risk to the Mississippi River Basin, and ten, including Asian carp, are high-risk to the Great Lakes Basin.

"As United States Senator, I introduced both the National Aquatic Invasive Species Act and the Asian Carp Prevention and Control Act to address invasive species attacking Lake Erie and the other Great Lakes.

As Attorney General, I am committed to continue preserving waterways and indigenous wildlife for the use and enjoyment of generations of future Ohioans. We must halt the progress of aquatic invasive species across this country, and I call on my fellow attorneys general to join in this important cause," Attorney General DeWine said.

A copy of the letter can be found online at

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Always something with dogs, but not always pleasant

It was a valuable - albeit, expensive lesson - I learned yesterday involving my two Labrador retrievers.

When newly acquired Millie came aboard the family as a landed immigrant from Alaska she quickly wormed her way into the hearts of Bev and me.

And it didn’t take much longer for her and Blackberry to become fast friends, either. So much so that they are rock-solid pals who seem to engage in never-ending play.

That relationship may, however, be in jeopardy. Yesterday, I fear, their world came crashing down.

During one of their tussles Berry’s lower jaw became ensnared in Millie’s heavy cloth collar and was unable to extract herself.

Worse, one of Berry’s canines appears to have pierced the underside of Millie’s tongue. That created a jet stream of deep red blood and which became mixed with saliva.

Blood spurted everywhere as Bev and I worked to free the two very obviously scared dogs.

I cut finally managed to cut through Millie’s collar, freeing the dogs.
More than a little worried, we quickly rushed Millie to nearby Lakeshore Animal Hospital in Mentor-on-the-Lake. By then it was closing time but veterinarian Debbie Ting didn’t take offense and was more than willing to work on the patient.

What Ting found was a large clot of red/black blood along with a nasty cut underneath Millie’s tongue.

Of concern, yes, but as much scary as actual damage. Being rich in blood the mouth tends to heal quickly, Ting said also.

So armed with some antibiotics we went home. There, Millie was kenneled up in her cage to help keep her active life style in check so her blood pressure doesn’t rise and set off the bleeding again.

By this morning Millie still appeared both sore and confused. She ate some cooked rice and had no problem eating her heartworm medication though it took a while to chow down on the antibiotic pill wrapped in soft American cheese.

A follow-up call from Ting this included the fact that some old and probably clotted blood was transferred to my shirt sleeve while I petted her.

Obviously, Millie is on the disabled list and won’t be joining Berry and me for the start on Thursday of the early Canada goose-hunting season. That probably will be allowed next week, Ting said.

Maybe my biggest worry is that Berry and Millie still appear dazed as to their relationship. Being dogs they obviously don’t understand that this was an accident, perhaps even thinking that one was attacking the other.

One low growl from the other sent chills down my spine, me thinking that all the progress toward developing a fast and lasting friendship may have been seriously damaged.

Give them time to work it out themselves, Ting said.

And so I shall.

I also learned a valuable lesson that cost me close to $100. Yeah, dogs should have their identification on them, including the required dog license.

However, with that being said I am done having them wear their collars while in the house or in the yard.

Ting even gave several horrific examples of dogs actually hanging themselves or being injured in one fashion or another because of a collar. I won’t take that risk

I am a dog man and I doubt that I’d ever hunt birds or waterfowl without owning at least one good Labrador retriever. That I now have two gives me ample reason to protect not only my investment but the joy I have in caring for and living with my two beloved Labrador retrievers.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Monday, August 29, 2011

Hurricane Irene strikes out at sweeping rare birds into Northeast Ohio

Hurricane Irene was something of a bust for Northeast Ohio birders.

It is not unusual for a tropical storm event to sweep in bird species not typically associated with this region. That condition often revs up the juices of birders who go out and look for a new species to add to their life lists.

However, Irene was something of a windbag, failing to let its heavy breezes to transport anything new to the shores of Lake Erie, says John Pogacnik,Lake Metroparks' biologist.

"I went to take a look yesterday at the lake and all I saw were eight rudy turnstones and six dowitchers," Pogacnik said. "I thought we might have seen some more shorebirds but that didn't happen."

Actually, Pogacnik has a good explanation for the lack of sightings.

Irene ran along the Atlantic coastline and although it was a large storm system it hardly came close to Ohio, Pogacnik said.

"Often when a hurricane comes up into Ohio that is when you see birds," he said.

Thus, it looks like Northeast Ohio birders will just have to wait for a Gulf of Mexico hurricane to hit the coast and charge up the Ohio Valley in order to catch a glimpse at an infrequent or rare avian visitor.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Boating safety a key component of summer's last holiday

With summer drawing to its unofficial close this Labor Day holiday weekend, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources' Division of Watercraft is urging boaters to stay sober and stay alert.

The advice comes at an especially noteworthy time following the death over the weekend of a kayaker who ventured out onto Lake Erie.

Here is a press release from the Natural Resources Department which it asked to be reprinted as a community service message.

Boaters and swimmers are strongly encouraged by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) to make safety a top priority during this last month of the traditional summer swimming and boating season. Following common sense rules of safety will ensure that a day of fun on the water does not turn into a moment of tragedy.

“Most of the tragic incidents that claim Ohioan’s lives on the water occur quickly and unexpectedly – heartaches that can be easily avoided when safety is made part of the plan,” said ODNR Director David Mustine.

ODNR is working in cooperation with its community partners and asking Ohio’s media outlets to again remind boaters and swimmers to:

• Properly wear a life jacket anytime while boating;
• Provide proper and alert supervision at all times to those persons who are swimming, especially children;
• Enjoy boating and swimming while sober;
• Swim only in designated areas;
• Use the buddy system and never boat or swim alone;
• And be prepared to render assistance if an emergency arises.

“We are fortunate to have an abundance of outdoor recreational opportunities to enjoy in Ohio, but all present potential hazards that need to be taken seriously," said Mustine.

Hikers, campers, cyclists and others who are active in the outdoors also should keep safety in mind when visiting Ohio’s state parks, forests and other areas. ODNR says that a good way to stay safe on trails, waterways and other areas is to simply follow posted visitor rules.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Friday, August 26, 2011

Pace quickens with approach of another hunting year

Ohio has less than one week before it turns the corner on the start of another hunting year.

And so for the next few days comes a flurry of activity to get things ready.

Actually the elbow grease has been applied for more than four weeks now.

There was the buying of some new floating goose decoys, the acquisition of a pair of duck calls, the painting the interior of a wooden deer blind, the priming the Moultree game feeder, the placing of the mineral block and doctored with a liberal dousing of buck-attracting syrup in apple flavor.

Oh, and some work on a new waterfowl-hunting blind.

Even today saw the placement of a fabric ground blind at the far end of a pasture near a corner of a woodlot where deer like to slink out from on toward evening.

The ground near where the blind sits is impressed with the stamp of at least one very large deer, based on the size and depth of the hoof prints. No need to bait here as the deer regularly enter the grassy field from this juncture.

I’ve also foraged through ammunition boxes of shotshells, sorting out the loads I’ll be using for the early Canada goose-only hunting season and next Thursday’s start of the dove-hunting season.

But this coming week will see the most intensity. Tomorrow my wife, Bev, and I, will outfit another waterfowl-hunting blind. It consists of a jury-rigged frame made from glued PVC tubing that will be superimposed with camouflaged netting.

And we’ll have to repair the rotted wooden floor, too, though I’ve got the plywood to see that project to completion.

Then we’ll have to perform a little brush trimming in front of the blind so I can ensure that no swimming goose will sneak up on us.

Later in the afternoon we’ll string the goose decoys and get them ready to be deposited an evening or two before the season starts on Thursday.

Oh, yes, we’ll keep working on training the two Labrador retrievers, trying to burnish off the rust.

And for the Labor Day holiday weekend I’ll labor on getting my main archery deer-hunting blind ready, complete with fueling its own game feeder.

If this all seems like a lot to do, it’s not for nothing. Just the opposite.

I suppose I could go to the farm pond, sit amongst the rushes and hope that a flock of geese pass overhead.

Or on Thursday’s dove season opener I could just inch my way along a treeline at the Mosquito Creek Wildlife Area like the bulk of the other hunters instead of assembling a dove “tree” that will be completed with a Mojo motion dove decoy and four stationary models.

Even though we’re still one month away from the archery deer-hunting season that’s really not all that far down the road.

Before I whistle “nice buck” the archery season will be upon us. I want to be ready and I also want the deer to be ready, pumped up by the free meal and feeling comfortable about the ground blinds.
ust like I want the geese to feel relaxed when from overhead they spy the placebos rocking on the waves of pond water in front of the two blinds.

Yes, sir, I’ve got the itch and I need all of this activity to give me some relief.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Huge changes for Ohio waterfowl season dates

The Ohio Division of Wildlife has made significant - even ground-breaking - changes to its waterfowl hunting rules for the 2011-2012 season.

Among them is that the fabled marsh region of western Lake Erie has been carved out for its own duck-hunting niche.

For Northeast Ohio goose hunters, the Lake Erie Zone goose-hunting season dates have undergone a radical make-over as well. This includes a split season running Oct. 15 through Oct. 30 and followed by a second segment that doesn’t open until Nov. 12 but will run through Jan. 8, 2012.

Duck hunters who pursue birds in Northeast Ohio will see the North Zone duck-hunting dates as being Oct. 15 to Oct. 30 as the first part and followed by a second segment that will run Nov. 19 through Jan. 1.

“Basically, this change was based on surveys that we’ve done over the past few years. Hunters didn’t think the ducks were showing up until after the seasons were over,” said Jacob Gray, the Wildlife Division’s waterfowl management biologist.
“Some of that is perception but these changes were driven by public comment.”

Gray said the goose-hunting dates were changed because most surveyed hunters by-and-large requested the change. Thus, the agency designed a goose-hunting season format to closely mirror the duck-hunting season format, Gray said.

“Hunters said they wanted to hunt Canada geese in late December and early January,” Gray said. “Based on public comments that’s what the public wanted. They are significant changes, though.”

The newly created Lake Erie Marsh Zone encompasses portions of Lucas, Wood, Ottawa, Sandusky, and Erie counties. The duck hunting season in the Lake Erie Marsh Zone is October 15 to 30 followed by a second segment that opens Nov. 12 through Dec. 25.

Bag limits will remain the same as they’ve been for the past few years with a TOTAL bag limit of six ducks. This includes allowing a hunter to shoot up to three wood ducks, four mallards (of which only one can be a hen), one black duck, two redheads, two scaup, one canvasback, two pintails, and one mottled duck.

The daily bag limit for Canada geese remains at two.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Fish Ohio applications up so far

Even though sales of Ohio fishing licenses have tanked this year - believed caused by the long stretch of poor weather - the numbers of trophy fish caught has increased.

At least those fish entered in the Ohio Division of Wildlife's Fish Ohio program.

Vicki Farus - who coordinates the program for the Wildlife Division - says that the total to-date number of Fish Ohio applications processed is around 7,300.

For the same period last year that figure was around 5,500, Farus says.

"I think the program is going very well and I'm getting ready to send out another batch of pins," Farus said.

As fishing license sales are concerned, those are down about 57,000 documents. This has resulted in a loss of more than $1 million in revenues for the Wildlife Division.

The bulk of fishing license sales has occurred.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Less than average Lake Erie walleye, perch hatches

With Lake Erie fisheries survey work winding down, state biologists are staring at a lakewide spring walleye hatch that is likely a stretch below the long-term average.

And in the Western Basin the yellow perch hatch appears to have been even more dismal.

Only in the Central Basin does it look like a half-way decent yellow perch hatch.

“The guys here in the Western Basin just finished up their work yesterday, and in consultation with the Canadians we think the hatch may be a little less than the long-term average with what we saw in July being only average,” said Roger Knight, Ohio Division of Wildlife fisheries biologist.

“August does not appear to indicate a particularly poor hatch; maybe between ‘bad’ and ‘average.’ That’s about the best I can say.”

With that being said, Knight noted that given this spring’s tumultuous weather he’s “pretty thankful we have any fish at all.”

“There’s been times in the past where we saw only a fish or two and based on this spring’s weather conditions that was what I was expecting,” Knight said. “It didn’t happen.”

Knight said also the walleye hatched this year will enter the pool of keepers in 2013. And these fish will link with the near-average 2007 year class of walleye with a similar hatch in 2010.

Shrinking in terms of feeding the fisheries, however, will be the walleye from 2003 hatch, which was one of the best all-time hatches, Knight said.

“Next year should not be a bust for anglers by any means,” Knight said. “But what we’d like to see are more fish out of the other year classes.”

Way down, though, appears to be yellow perch recruitment. At least in the Western Basin, Knight says.

“I don’t have a number yet relative to other years but it’s not good,” he said.

Still, the Central Basin’s 2011 yellow perch hatch appears to be a brighter picture than what’s found in the lake’s Western Basin, Knight said.

“We just have to keep plugging along and adjust the regulations to ensure that the take is in line with the supply of fish so that we are not over harvesting,” Knight also said.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Monday, August 22, 2011

UPDATED: South Carolina wildlife officer not yet off the hook in Ohio

While South Carolina wildlife officer Eric Vaughn won’t face charges in his home state for his involvement in obtaining an Ohio resident hunting license in 2006 there is no guarantee that he’ll avoid a ticket in Ohio.

A decision whether to charge or not charge Vaughn will come only after an investigation is completed by the Ohio Highway Patrol, says an official with the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.

But Vaughn has all ready been cleared in his home state. An investigation by the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources’ Division of Law Enforcement concluded that Vaughn acted in “good faith” when he thought Ohio Wildlife Division policy permitted him to buy an Ohio resident hunting license.

That belief stemmed from alleged assurances by Allan Wright, the former state wildlife officer assigned to Brown County, that it was okay for Vaughn to use Wright’s address in order to obtain the resident hunting license, an official with that state’s Law Enforcement Division says.

Consequently, South Carolina has concluded its investigation and will not take any action against Vaughn, says Col. Alvin Taylor of the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources’ Division of Law Enforcement.

Taylor says also that it is South Carolina’s understanding that the federal government will not seek charges against Vaughn, either, though Wright was indicted on four counts last week by the U.S. Department of Justice for alleged violations of the Lacey Act.

However, Ohio is reserving its right to take or not to take any action and pending an on-going investigation by the Ohio Highway Patrol, says Laura Jones, spokeswoman for the Ohio Natural Resources Department.

Jones said also that the Natural Resources Department is striving to be as “transparent as possible” as the entire process moves forward.

The agency provided "information regarding potential state crimes to the Ohio Highway Patrol" in late July, Jones said.

Asked when the Ohio Highway Patrol will conclude its investigation, Jones said she did not know.

“We will follow the lead of the Ohio Highway Patrol based upon its investigation,” Jones said. “We are working with them and we are being cooperative.”

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

No South Carolina, Federal charges against S.C. wildlife officer in Wright matter

South Carolina does not intend to go after one of its own who is at the apex of the incident that saw federal charges being brought against an Ohio Division of Wildlife agent.

An official with that state’s Department of Natural Resources says that wildlife officer Eric Vaughn will not face federal charges either, unlike Allan Wright, the former Ohio Division of Wildlife officer assigned to Brown County.

In 2006 Wright allowed Vaughn to use his address in order to obtain a resident Ohio hunting license. Vaughn subsequently shot three deer which were tagged by Wright and then taken back home to South Carolina by Vaughn

Vaughn told investigators that Wright informed him that Ohio Division of Wildlife policy allowed such transactions for out-of-state wildlife officers.

In a follow-up to the matter Wright was indicted in federal court last week with felony and two misdemeanor counts for violations of the Lacey Act. He has been placed on unpaid administrative leave, and may still be under investigation by a special prosecutor assigned to the job by the Brown County prosecutor.

Subsequently, the entire issue has swelled to include state felony charges being brought against five former and current Wildlife Division officials. Their cases are pending a ruling by the Ohio 12th District Court of Appeals.

As for Vaughn, South Carolina delved into its own investigation and concluded the wildlife officer had “acted in good faith” when he was led to believe that he could buy an Ohio resident hunting license instead of a non-resident one that shaved off $106.

“We looked into it and actually interviewed Allan Wright,” said Col. Alvin Taylor of the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources’ Division of Law Enforcement.
Taylor said that Vaughn “cooperated 100-percent in the investigation” that concluded he had done nothing wrong nor attempted to get out of a buying the appropriate license.

“He (Vaughn) has paid dearly and we’ve put him through the wringer,” Taylor said. “There is no doubt in my mind that he (Vaughn) thought he was within the guidelines of Ohio. He has a spotless record.”

Taylor said also that in subsequent hunting trips to Ohio, Vaughn was instructed by Wright that the policy had changed, which meant that Vaughn had to purchase the more expensive non-resident hunting license.

But the bottom line in the on-going legal matter, says Taylor, is that no South Carolina wildlife charges will be brought against Vaughn.

And any possible federal charges brought against Vaughn are similarly unlikely, Taylor says, who noted that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service concluded that Vaughn “did nothing wrong.”

As a result, says Taylor, South Carolina “took this all very seriously and we consider the investigation closed” with the caveat that if additional information surfaces then the case will be reopened.

The ultimate fallout from the incident has led South Carolina to tighten its guidelines for officer conduct while traveling out of state to hunt or fish, Taylor said also.

“They need to double-check the law and look at things differently; do everything above board,” Taylor said. “We have to be held to a higher standard.”

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Fast and Furious leaders move up the ladder of command

Tracking the on-going investigation and Congressional hearings on the BATF's "Fast and Furious" program that saw firearms deliberately fall into the hands of Mexican criminals, the National Rifle Association expressed alarm how three of its top administrators were promoted.

From the NRA: In what can only be described as "Washington D.C. logic," the three BATFE agents who were responsible for the "Fast and Furious" debacle in Phoenix have been promoted.

You read that right, promoted! Not reprimanded, not demoted and certainly not fired, but given bigger jobs with more responsibility and more pay.

Each of the agents now have high profile positions in D.C. William Newell is now special assistant to the assistant director of the agency's Office of Management, David Voth has been made branch chief for the BATFE's tobacco division.

And if those two promotions seem hard to understand, the third is particularly hard to fathom. William G. McMahon, who had been the BATFE's deputy director of operations in the West, has been made the deputy assistant director of the Office of Professional Responsibility and Security Operations. That is the division within BATFE that investigates misconduct by agency personnel.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Friday, August 19, 2011

UPDATED: Wright's arraignment set; Fed's investigation continues

Allan Wright, the former state wildlife officer assigned to Brown County and later as an at-large agent, has seen his arraignment set for 1:30 p.m. Aug. 25 before federal magistrate Judge Karen L. Litkovitz in Cincinnati.

Wright has been charged with two felony and two misdemeanor counts for alleged violations involving the federal Lacey Act.

The indictment is based on the independent investigation conducted by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, says Wyn Hornbuckle, spokesman for the U.S. Department of Justice.

And a Fish and Wildlife Service official said its investigation is not over.

The indictment charges that Wright knowingly sold and provided an Ohio resident hunting license to a South Carolina resident during the 2006 white-tailed deer season.

Also, the indictment alleges that Wright, using his authority as a wildlife officer, seized white-tailed deer antlers from a hunter who had killed a deer illegally during the 2009 white-tailed deer season.

This indictment alleges that, rather than dispose of the antlers through court proceedings, Wright caused the antlers to be transported to another individual in Michigan.

The indictment charges that Wright then filed an official state form which falsely reported that he had personally destroyed the antlers.

The federal Lacey Act makes it a crime for a person to knowingly make or submit a false record, account or label for wildlife which has been transported in interstate commerce.

Two of the four counts charged in the indictment are felonies punishable by up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine per count.

Wright’s remaining two counts are misdemeanors, punishable by up to one year in prison and a $100,000 fine per count.

Wright was placed on unpaid administrative leave and thus is denied his annual $54,225 salary.

However, Hornbuckle also says, the indictment only charges and names Wright.

Thus the indictment does not include South Carolina Department of Natural Resources officer Eric Vaughn, who used Wright’s Ohio address to obtain the resident hunting license and later took home three deer that he allegedly shot.

A spokeswoman for the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources has not responded to a request as to its position in regards to Vaughn.

Also, a spokesman for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said that because his agency was the investigatory organ in the case it cannot comment on any aspect of that work, whether it relates to either Wright or Vaughn.

Charles Traxler, Deputy Assistant Regional Director for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service/Midwest Region External Affairs in Bloomington, Minnesota, said his agency “is, has been and was assisting in the investigation.”

“It’s still an on-going investigation and we cannot comment on anything that might happen or could happen,” Traxler said.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Thursday, August 18, 2011

UPDATED Brown County prosecutor, Natural Resources officials comment on Wright's indictment

The Brown County prosecutor handling the case against the five still-indicted Ohio Division of Wildlife officials looked to the press release issued by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources as her response to the federal government’s four-count indictment against Allan Wright, 45, the former wildlife officer assigned to Brown County and later, an at-large wildlife officer.

Jessica A. Little is prosecuting three current and two retired Wildlife Division officials for the manner in which they handled Wright’s conduct when he allowed a South Carolina wildlife officer to use his address in order to obtain an Ohio resident hunting license.

The five indicted officials handled the matter as an administrative one and not as part of a criminal matter.

This case was reviewed by Brown County Common Pleas Court Judge Scott Gusweiler who issued a ruling in favor of the defense. It regarded a particular point of law as to testimonial vulnerability of state government employees.

That ruling was appealed by Little before the 12th District Court of Appeals in southwest Ohio. The court has not yet to issued its findings though the matter is expected to be appealed before the state supreme court by either the defense or the prosecution.

As for Wright, he was indicted Tuesday in federal court for allegedly trafficking in and making false records for illegally harvested white-tailed deer in violation of the Lacy Act, which is federal law.

Wright was placed on immediate unpaid administrative leave and required to return all state property in his possession, which was performed today, Thursday.

Asked about Wright’s federal indictment, Little noted that her response was the indictment charges themselves.

As for her hiring an independent investigator, David Kelly, who is now also the Adams County prosecutor, that issue’s status remains the same, Little says.

Kelly was appointed due to Little’s claim that the five officials were not immune from what’s called “the Garity Rule” that applies to a government worker’s testimony while it shielded Wright.

“I don’t know the status of the special prosecutor’s investigation and I’ve stayed away from it: I’ve been very hands off,” Little said.

But Little said the new federal charges brought against Wright do not impact the case against the five other Wildlife Division officials.

And in a 30-minute teleconference with reporters, officials with the Ohio Department of Natural Resources expounded and expanded on the agency’s officially stated response to its actions related to Wright.

Wright - who has 21 1/2 years with the agency - was placed on unpaid administrative leave rather than placed on paid administrative leave “largely because of the gravity of the matter,” said Bill Damschroder, the Natural Resources Department’s Chief Legal Counsel.

He will lose his current salary of $54,225.

“This administration thought it was the correct thing,” Damschroder said.
Damschroder said also that he “hesitates to speak respective of any administration other than this one,” and added that the new ODNR team has been “cooperative and helpful to assist in bringing every case to a conclusion with clarity.”

Asked why Wright was earlier this year moved from being the wildlife officer assigned to Brown County to an at-large agent with district-wide responsibilities, the Natural Resources Department said that its decision was in part so he could better help his family cope with the situation.

“That weighed heavily,” said David Lane, Wildlife Division chief.

Also queried as to whether any other Wildlife Division official is being investigated at either the state or federal level, Natural Resources officials said they were not aware of any others.

As for procedures to address future, similar cases, those are being reviewed now by the Natural Resources Department, says Glen Cobb, the agency’s Deputy Director.

“We are always looking for ways to improve, and we’re not going to turn a blind eye,” Cobb said. “We’re going to look at any and all things related to evidence and we have to have a certain amount of trust but (also) see where we need to tighten. We have a fiduciary responsibility to the sportsmen and others of the state.”

Then asked if the Natural Resources Department either ignored or looked away from the incident and its related fall-out, Damschroder said “in respect to the matter, given the nature of the charges we felt it was appropriate for others to do this investigation.”

Wyn Hornbuckle, spokesman for the U.S. Department of Justice, said he had no further comment beyond what is contained in his agency’s press release which is a nearly mirror image of the Natural Resources Department’s release.

Additional information is expected and this blog will be updated as that data becomes available.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

State wildlife officer indicted for alleged federal wildlife law violations

Allan Wright, the central figure in a case surrounding past and present top officials with the Ohio Division of Wildlife, has been named in a four-count federal indictment.

The indictment was released Wednesday afternoon and implicates Wright - a state wildlife officer - with alleged violations of federal wildlife laws. The text of an Ohio Department of Natural Resources' press release is included with this blog posting.

Though state charges were dropped against Wright last year, a special prosecutor was named and who indicated he wanted to perform his own independent investigation of alleged Wildlife Division matters.

Meanwhile, five current or former Wildlife Division officials have been charged in Brown County Court with two felony counts each and related to their actions as they relate to disciplining Wright. It was Wright who once allowed a South Carolina wildlife officer to use his address in order to obtain a resident hunting license.

However, the legal wrangling regarding the five Wildlife Division officials continues with a ruling from the Ohio 12th District Court of Appeals still pending.

The issue before the justices revolves around a particular point of law that is being disputed between the defense and the Brown County prosecutor. The defense won the first round in Brown County Common Pleas Court and now the question has been taken up by the appellate court.

Here is the full text of the Natural Resources Department's press release related to Wright's federal indictment:


August 17, 2011

Ohio Wildlife Officer Charged With Federal Lacey Act Crimes

The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) today obtained a four-count indictment from a federal grand jury in Cincinnati charging Allan Wright, a state wildlife officer in southwest Ohio, with trafficking in and making false records for illegally harvested white-tailed deer in violation of federal law.

The Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) and its Division of Wildlife willingly cooperated in the investigation, providing documents and other information as it was requested by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and the DOJ.

Wright will be placed on immediate unpaid administrative leave and required to return all state property in his possession, according to ODNR.

The Lacey Act makes it a crime for a person to knowingly transport or sell wildlife in interstate commerce when the wildlife was taken or possessed in violation of state law. The Lacey Act also makes it a crime for a person to knowingly make or submit a false record, account or label for wildlife which has been transported in interstate commerce.

The indictment charges that Wright knowingly sold and provided an Ohio resident hunting license to a South Carolina resident during the 2006 white-tailed deer season. According to the indictment, Wright falsely entered an Ohio address for the hunter in order to obtain a resident license. Ohio law makes it a crime to procure a hunting license by fraud, deceit, misrepresentation or any false statement. Ohio law also makes it a crime to hunt without a valid hunting license. The indictment charges that the hunter killed three white-tailed deer using the illegal license. Wright personally “checked in” the three deer, again providing the fraudulent Ohio address. The hunter then transported the deer back to South Carolina.

Additionally, the indictment alleges that Wright, using his authority as a wildlife officer, seized white-tailed deer antlers from a hunter who had killed a deer illegally during the 2009 white-tailed deer season. The indictment alleges that, rather than dispose of the antlers through court proceedings, Wright caused the antlers to be transported to another individual in Michigan. The indictment charges that Wright then filed an official state form which falsely reported that he had personally destroyed the antlers.

Two of the four counts charged in the indictment are felonies punishable by up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine per count. The remaining two counts are misdemeanors punishable by up to one year in prison and a $100,000 fine per count.

An indictment is merely an accusation and a defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

The case is being investigated by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, Office of Law Enforcement. The case is being prosecuted by Trial Attorney James B. Nelson of the Department of Justice’s Environmental Crimes Section of the Environment and Natural Resources Division.

Further developments are expected and will be added as they become available.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Fishing license sales nosedive; hunting license and duplicate sales soar

With the fishing season rounding its final bend sales of the required documents are well off last year’s pace.

In virtually every fishing license segment the sales declined from the same period last year, including sales of the all-important resident annual fishing licenses.

These sales are down by 56,871 documents for a decline worth more than $1 million, or off 9.54 percent.

Up, though, are sales of nearly every type of hunting license, including sales of the various deer tags though the first season for hunting white-tails is still almost six weeks away.

And for some reason or another sales of duplicate licenses have risen dramatically, especially for duplicate hunting licenses whose sales have gone through the roof.

For the period Feb. 15 to July 31 the Ohio Division of Wildlife sold 539,537 annual resident fishing licenses. During the same time frame in 2010 the agency processed 596,408 documents.

Down as well were annual non-resident fishing licenses (off 1,945 documents), non-resident three-day licenses (a decline of 3,298 tags), and one-day fishing licenses (a drop of 4,563 permits).

Up, however, were the issuances of duplicate fishing licenses: from 4,202 documents during the Feb. 15, 2010 to July 31, 2010 period and compared to the 5,091 duplicates issued from Feb. 15, 2011 to July 31, 2011.

More on this point in a moment.

In all, the Ohio Division of Wildlife has seen its income derived from sales of fishing licenses tumble 9.09 percent, or in real dollars, a drop of $1.25 million.

“You’d like a steady income but that’s not always possible,” said Vicki Ervin, spokeswoman for the Wildlife Division. “It was pretty much weather-related; it’s been a tough year, weather-wise, that’s for sure.”

However, sales of hunting licenses are improving even though the bulk of these documents have yet to be sold.

But the advance signs point to good hunting document sales, and that is encouraging news for the Wildlife Division.

Resident hunting license sales increased from 62,708 documents sold for the Feb. 15, 2010 to July 31, 2010 period and compared to the 64,832 resident hunting licenses issued for the same time frame this year.

Up as well are sales of non-resident hunting licenses, general either-sex (special) deer tags, antlerless-only permits, state waterfowl stamp, state wildlife stamp, youth-only deer tags, and reduced rate senior citizen deer tags of both kinds.

The bottom line is that the Wildlife Division has issued 9,297 more hunting documents than for the same period in 2010. The net result is a revenue increase of $143,881.

“It is encouraging that hunting license sales are up, and maybe it’s because of the new system of buying licenses,” Ervin said. “It’s a tough call.”
nterestingly enough, however, is that the number of duplicate hunting license documents has soared by a factor of 739 percent. In real numbers that translates into 607 duplicate licenses being issued from Feb. 15, 2010 to July 31, 2010 to 5,092 such duplicate licenses issued for the same period this year.

“The fact that the duplicate license sales are up doesn’t surprise us but the number is,” said Kory Brown, the Wildlife Division’s license manager.

Several reasons are cited by Brown for why so many duplicates are being printed.

They include because of the new license-issuing system but also because hunters are coming to find that the documents themselves “aren’t very durable,” Brown said.

“And they weren’t designed to be,” he said.

Thirdly, says Brown, individual license-issuing agents are using their own equipment and have seen challenges in printing them on the paper stock given them by the Wildlife Division.

“We’re going to be reviewing our business rules as they relate to how long issuing agents have to void a license should they have a printing problem. I believe we’ll see a major improvement next year where we’ll all go to plain white copy paper everywhere,” Brown said.

Brown said also that he personally expects that at some point the agency will adopt a paperless license-issuing system, depending nearly entirely on electronic technology.

“And it probably won’t be that long; maybe 4 or 5 years where you’re given a number for your smartphone and it can be checked through a computer,” Brown said. “But there are logistical problems now but I think we’ll always have a printed option.”

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Wyoming's archery season has started, no hunter ed required

They do things differently in Wyoming.

There the archery hunting season has all ready begun for pronghorn antelope and will start for most deer and elk areas on Sept. 1.

Perhaps most interesting of all is that Wyoming does not require bow hunting education or even hunter education certification before going hunting.

Wyoming law requires hunter education only for taking wildlife by use of a firearm, but, there are a number of other laws and regulations that affect archers.

The purchase of an archery permit, in addition to the hunting license and conservation stamp, is one such requirement.

Archers hunting in the special archery preseason will need to get an archery permit. The fee is $16 for residents and $30 for nonresidents. The archery permit for youth under 18 is $6 resident and $12 nonresident.

Oh, yes, one more thing. Wyoming is very liberal as to what archery hunting tools are allowed. These include permitting the use of crossbows.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Monday, August 15, 2011

Lake Erie watersnake no longer listed as threatened or endangered

Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar today announced that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (the Service) removed the Lake Erie watersnake, a harmless species found on offshore islands in western Lake Erie in Ohio and Ontario, from the Federal List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife.

The snake becomes the 23rd species to be delisted due to recovery.

Under the Endangered Species Act, the Service has worked to successfully stabilize our nation’s most imperiled species in part by fostering partnerships, employing scientific excellence, and developing a workforce of conservation leaders who promote conservation programs that help species recovery.

“Today the Lake Erie watersnake joins species such as the bald eagle, the American alligator, and the peregrine falcon that have rebounded from the threat of extinction and no longer require the protection of the Endangered Species Act,” Salazar said.

“These species — and the hundreds of others whose extinction has been prevented by the Act — are living testimonies to its ability to bring species back from the brink by protecting them and conserving and restoring their habitat.”

The Service listed the Lake Erie watersnake as a threatened species in 1999. Threats to the species included intentional killing and loss of its shoreline habitat on Lake Erie to development.

In 2003, the Service finalized a recovery plan that called for protecting habitat and providing outreach to reduce threats to the species.

In cooperation with the Ohio Department of Natural Resources Division of Wildlife (ODNR) and other partners, biologists worked to minimize and reduce the threats to the snake by sustaining and protecting summer and hibernation habitat and ensuring the permanent protection of shoreline habitat.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Northeast Ohio preserves to be closed to controlled deer hunts this season

The Ohio Department of Natural Resources’ fiscal belt-tightening has pinched deer hunting opportunities in Northeast Ohio.

And elsewhere in the state, too, for that matter.

Of the 30 Ohio state nature preserves to be opened to controlled hunts during the 2010-2011 deer-hunting season only nine will be available this season.

And none of those sites are located in Northeast Ohio, including Pallister and Rome state nature preserves, both in Ashtabula County.

The reasons have nothing to do with the size of the deer herd on these reserves, the lack of interest on the part of hunters or even a need to conduct a hunt.

Rather, says state officials, it has everything to do with the rearranging of the Natural Resources Department’s deck chairs as it applies to the remnants of the Division of Natural Areas and Preserves.

With a seriously eroded employee base and a shuffling of duties and responsibilities for those who do remain, there simply isn’t enough money and manpower to conduct hunts but on a fraction of the preserves opened last year, says state officials.

“I know the hunts have been popular,” said Jeff Johnson, the Natural Resources official in charge of the preserve program.

Johnson said the nine areas that will see controlled hunts are all managed by staff with enough time to conduct lottery drawings for them and also because they contain deer herds that need trimming.

None of these preserves are found anywhere near Northeast Ohio, however.

While the controlled deer hunts at Pallister and Rome did not produce high volumes of deer killed (6 and 1, respectively, during the 2009-2010 deer-hunting season) they did offer a quality experience for the participants who were successful at being drawn, Johnson said.

“We hope to add more preserves to the list next year though,” Johnson said.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Friday, August 12, 2011

Controlled deer hunt drawing results are in

The lottery results for the 2011-2012 controlled deer hunts are available at – click the link at the top of the agency's home page.

Waterfowl results will be available in early September.

The Division no longer posts the names of each winner.

Rather, applicants are instructed to visit the “Wild Ohio Customer Center”.

Lottery winners are instructed to print their own controlled hunt permits.

I looked up my applications and it took me a while to figure it out and enter the correct numbers. But once the requested information is encoded the results came up quickly.

Rats, though, I didn't get drawn for any of the four sites I applied for.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Dove fields in poor shape: Blame the weather, though

The on-going wet weather is stifling the Ohio Division of Wildlife’s dove fields in Northeast Ohio.

This situation is especially acute at the agency’s Grand River Wildlife Area in Trumbull County and to a lesser degree, the Mosquito Creek Wildlife Area, also in Trumbull County.

And a visual inspection of the two wildlife reserves on Thursday pointed out the rough condition of the fields. All of which could hamper their respective abilities to attract doves once the season begins Sept. 1.

Ron Ferenchak, Grand River’s manager, said that because of the delayed planting and wet weather the reserve will manage just one field for dove hunting: The operation off Stroupe-Hixon Road.

While neither corn nor sunflowers were planted there (or anywhere else on the property) to provide hunters with cover there is a long strip of weeds into which sportsmen can hide, Ferenchak said.

However, complicating matters is that last week the area’s workers were unable to apply an herbicide to the wheat, a prerequisite for burning. This may complicate finishing off the field’s management, Ferenchak said, but won’t stop it.

“It’s the third year for the field and I’d say it’s on par with the quality over at Mosquito,” he said.

Ferenchak said that on the dove opener it’s not unusual to find 400 or 500 doves visiting this field. Previously, this number allowed opening day limits the first year of the field’s existence, Ferenchak said.

Once word of the field’s success got out the hunting pressure quickly swelled the next two years, Ferenchak said.

“It should still be a good field,” he said.

Ferenchak did say that Grand River’s other two designated dove fields will have some management work performed on them but that it will be of limited value and will likely provide limited performance.

As for Mosquito, that operation experienced a delayed planting of corn though stalks are now just maturing to the point where they may provide some cover once the dove season begins Sept. 1.

At the Horvath plot off Rt. 45, an herbicide has been placed on the strip containing the wheat and corn. This will be burned soon.

Along with mowing the location will offer much more limited hunting than in the past, however.

At the headquarters’ plot it is difficult to tell where the wheat plantings begin and the weeds stop. What will happen here is that all will be mowed with the ground then turned over; much as what was accomplished last year and which did a fine job in spite of no burning.

However, the two strips of sparse corn used to hide hunters won’t stand head high. Currently they are waist high at best and should be chest to shoulder high by the time the season opens.

All in all it will require hunters get to the respective shooting stations long before daylight if they are to secure a decent chance of shooting doves.

It also was interesting that on Thursday I saw few doves at either Trumbull County reservation even though the telephone wires along the roadways leading to them often were being occupied by the migratory birds.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Indicators point to success of localized controlled deer hunts

With Lake Metroparks moving forward on plans to establish a limited, controlled deer hunt at its River Road Reservation in Madison Township, hopes are high that the activity will help manage the reserve’s deer herd.

Yet those hopes are tempered by a lack of statewide data as to their effectiveness.

However, there is more than enough anecdotal information by way of similar hunts done elsewhere that point to many more successes than failures, biologists say.

This point is especially true if the hunts are begun before the deer herd gets too far out of whack, says the state’s leading deer management biologist.

“There is no way to measure (success) at the very local level. We only have county-wide data,” says Mike Tonkovich, the Ohio Division of Wildlife’s deer management project leader.

The thing is, says Tonkovich, these sorts of limited hunts “have such a small ‘footprint’” that detecting any impact on overall county-wide populations through an analysis of data would “invariably lead one to conclude there is no measurable impact.”

Yet Tonkovich says don’t read negativism into that statement.

“Just judging from the longevity of some of these kinds of programs they have to be proof in and of themselves that there is progress at localized levels,” Tonkovich says.

The controlled hunts that are conducted as such places as Ravenna Arsenal and NASA’s Plum Brook Research Station have demonstrated effectiveness in helping manage their respective deer herds, for example, biologists say.

“I do know that hunters had less success at Ravenna last season but that was largely weather-related. Our fly-over there showed still high deer densities but the intent at that reservation is to reduce the amount of deer-caused damage,” said Allen Lea, a wildlife biologist for the Wildlife Division’s Northeast Ohio office in Akron. “They don’t want them all killed, though, and I believe they are successful at doing that.”

At Mosquito Creek Wildlife Area and Refuge, its controlled deer hunts appear to have helped establish a stable deer herd there as well, Lea said.

“And that is what we are looking for, so it’s a positive,” Lee said.

Which likewise appears to be the case with the Geauga Park District. The district has conducted limited, controlled archery and gun hunts at a number of its reservations since the 2006-2007 deer-hunting season. Of the 17 park reserves listed by the agency for that year, 35 deer were shot.

That figure jumped to 150 animals during the 2008-2009 season and at 11 of the agency’s now-18 units being opened.

By the following year the number of deer shot had fallen to 135 animals and even though five more sites were opened to hunting.

This past deer-hunting season the number of animals killed on Geauga Park District land fell to 110 deer.

The best way that these hunting programs can be effectively evaluated is by those most directly affected – the local homeowners and motorists, Tonkovich says as well.

“If there is a reduction in accidents and damage to property, then the hunt was effective,” Tonkovich says.

Importantly, says Tonkovich, the public appears to be coming around to the need for control through various management mechanisms. Those systems include offering controlled hunts with a stated objective of maintaining a healthy deer herd for the good of the animal, the environment, neighboring property owners and motor vehicle drivers, Tonkovich says.

“I think the opposition has seen there is no other option,” Tonkovich said. “I believe the momentum is on the side of conducting well managed deer hunts.”

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Monday, August 8, 2011

Seasonal uptick in perch bite; annual decline in shiner availablity

Along with the heat of August comes the picking of tomatoes and other veggie crops.

Less available this time of year, however, are Lake Erie emerald shiners used to catch yellow perch.

The problem happens right around this time of year. It grows more intense into

Those conditions make collecting shiners along the shore line more problematic as the bait is less inclined to hang around piers and breakwaters where they can be taken by dip netters.

To accommodate anglers, the marina at the Wildwood unit of Cleveland Lakefront State Park has begun stocking up on golden shiners, a less-effective but longer-lasting yellow perch bait.

Anglers hoping to take advantage of the slowly improving yellow perch fishing need to be aware of the seasonal shortage of emerald shiners and take appropriate action. That includes buying emerald shiners and freezing them, either in iodine-free salt or else sawdust as the curing agent.

A frozen emerald shiner is a step below a live emerald shiner in being a good perch bait but it is a step up from a golden shiner.

Speaking of catching yellow perch and Wildwood, the marina reports generally improving fishing though on some days the perch just either can't be found or else are not in a feeding mood.

That situation was the case this past weekend where the charter boat Linda Mae saw its anglers on Saturday struggling to catch fish while the next day everyone aboard limited out. This time of year you just don't know.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Friday, August 5, 2011

Building sky scraper of a duck blind a lot of work

Scratch one duck blind raising off my life’s bucket list.

And though I’ve slapped together my share of waterfowl hunting blinds in the past I’d never been a participant in what amounted to a major duck-hunting blind project. Nope, never. Not on this order anyway.

The blind extends for 14 feet and is six feet wide. It stands about eight feet at the highest point, sloping to close to six feet at the back wall. The front is 42 inches tall: a perfect height for swinging on any right-to-left or left-to-right, dodging mallard or honking Canada goose.

The affair sits atop a frame with floor joists that are supported by 8-by-8 inch pedestals, for lack of the proper carpentry terminology.

For the floor we used planking from a torn-down barn, all rustic looking and weathered dry.

Maybe I need to place a caveat on the “we” part. The landowner’s son was in charge of the project, being his idea, his equipment and his building material. The other five provided minimal supervisory skills but did the grunt work.

Okay, another caveat here is in order. Four others did the hammering and sawing and supervising.

My task was to remove nails from the planks; a safe enough, make-busy-work affair designed so that I could say I had a part in the project, protecting my ego while at the same time staying out of everyone’s hair.

My reputation as something much less than a master builder has become generally well known.

Besides, the landowner’s son knows that my bad back and doctor’s orders have placed limitations on the severity of physical labor.

“You can be our cameraman,” the landowner’s son said.

And so I was, safely at a distance, I hasten to add.

I hunt this farm pond a lot for waterfowl and built something of a two-person duck-hunting blind that now lies rotting several steps to the east of the one going up.

But the location practically begs for another blind. And so the landowner’s son vowed we’d have a duck-blind raising.

He wants a place where he can take and train his own young sons in the fine art of killing ducks and geese.

That I would have the opportunity to use the blind when the family wasn’t busy with it, well, that was my perk for staying out of harm’s way by keeping my hands off the hammer and saw.

The rest of the crew aren’t much in the way of waterfowlers but they are all good friends. Each is willing to drop whatever he is doing to help another member of the close-knit clan. That includes participating in a duck-blind raising and using material from a torn-down barn.

By nightfall the frame, floor and joists were in place, leaving the crew to decide how best assemble the sloping roof and siding. That’s a project for another day not too far in the distance.

And I hope to be able to participate in that project as well. Although I’m still thinking that they’ll wisely keep the tools far out of my reach and give me a job that protects not only them but keeps me occupied.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Portman backs restraints on any U.N. anti-gun treaty

Ohio's junior senator Rob Portman is making good on his pre-election promise to back Second Amendment rights.

Republican Portman has joined with a cadre of other Republican senators in stating that a still-in-progress United Nations' proposal to regulate the trade in small-arms first must protect the Second Amendment rights of Americans.

So far, these elected officials say, what has come out of the United Nations is largely lip service toward protecting the rights of citizens to own and use firearms for a wide range of activities, including shooting, hunting and personal protection.

The letter that Portman and the others sign deal in point-by-point discussion regarding the merits of the U.N.'s body or work, noting a treaty won't pass Senate muster unless it clearly spells and protects the Constitution's guarantee of the right to keep and bear arms.

With a similar letter sent to the Obama Administration by various members of the Senate's Democratic Party membership and the total number of upper chamber representatives expressing concern over U.N. activity reaches 58.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Firearms industry concerned over "slippery slope" with BATF action

The National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF), the trade association for America's firearms industry, has filed a lawsuit challenging the legal authority of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) under the Gun Control Act to compel 8,500 federally licensed firearms retailers in Arizona, California, New Mexico and Texas to report the sale of two or more rifles.

Specifically, the regulation calls for reporting multiple sales of any semi-automatic rifle larger than .22 caliber and capable of accepting a detachable magazine that are purchased following an FBI background check by the same individual within five consecutive business days.

NSSF's lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, seeks an injunction to block ATF from implementing the reporting requirement. ATF has sent "demand letters" to firearms retailers in the four states to inform retailers they must begin reporting such sales by August 14.

NSSF Senior Vice President and General Counsel Lawrence G. Keane pointed out that if ATF can require this record-keeping and reporting requirement of law-abiding retailers in these four states simply by sending a letter demanding the information, then there is no record or report ATF cannot require of any licensee, anywhere in the country, for as long as ATF wants.

"This is the proverbial 'slippery slope,' and our industry is extremely concerned about it," said Keane.

Keane added, "At the time Congress authorized the reporting of multiple sales of handguns, it could have required it for the sale of long guns, but it did not. Acting ATF Director Ken Melson himself has questioned ATF's legal authority to impose this new requirement."

Despite its lawsuit, NSSF is encouraging all retailers, not just those along the Southwest border, to continue to cooperate with law enforcement and report any suspicious activity to the ATF. "The firearms industry and NSSF take pride in having a longstanding cooperative relationship with ATF," said NSSF President and CEO Steve Sanetti. "Retailers have long been considered a vital source of information for law enforcement in combating illegal firearm trafficking."

Even if ATF had the legal authority to require multiple sales reporting for long guns, NSSF believes the policy would still be unwise to implement. "We believe the policy will make it more difficult for retailers to assist law enforcement," said Keane. Illegal firearms traffickers will simply alter their schemes to avoid and evade the reporting requirement, making it more difficult for retailers to identify and report suspicious activity.

For example, traffickers could simply recruit more "straw purchasers" and have them illegally purchase firearms from multiple licensees, or simply move their illegal trafficking activities to other states where the reporting requirement does not exist.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Buckeye Firearms Association looks at ranks against gun owners

Toledo police spokesperson: Defending self during armed robbery "just not worth it"

After four jewelry store holdups in the past month, a Toledo police department spokesperson is reminding citizens that while they have a right to defend themselves, they really shouldn't bother.

"You may just end up in a big gun battle and the store owner may get the suspect they may get the store owner and no telling what bystanders might be involved so its just really not worth it."

CCW laws "completely insane": Canton City Council President rails against Americans upset about cop's behavior on dash cam video

Perhaps now we know why police officer Daniel Harless thought it was acceptable behavior to unleash his violent, profanity-laced tirade on a concealed handgun license-holder in Canton, Ohio, saying "People like you don't deserve to @#$%#$ move throughout public. Period!" before threatening to murder the CHL-holder.

Canton City Council President Allen Schulman has unleashed his own version of that same tirade against law-abiding concealed handgun license-holders.

For further information, visit the Buckeye Firearms Association's web site at

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn
The weekly outdoors calender didn't make it in today's paper. Here is the text of that report:

Now on Sundays - 5-stand sporting clays course open, Crooked Creek Conservation Club, about two miles north of Hartsgrove Square off Rt. 534 in Ashtabula County.

Now through Aug. 17 - National Rifle and Pistol Matches, Camp Perry. Sponsored by the National Rifle Association and the Civilian Marksmanship Program.

Now through March 12, 2012 - Crow-hunting season, Friday’s, Saturdays and Sundays only.

Sept. 1 through 15 - Early Canada goose hunting season,.

Sept. 1 through Oct. 23, and Dec. 17 to Jan. 2 - Dove hunting season.

Sept. 1 to Jan. 31 - Squirrel hunting season.

Sept. 3 through 18 - Early teal-only hunting season.

Sept. 3 and 4 - Northcoast National Gunslingers Championships, a fast draw series of competition, Gunny’s Hall, Maine Corps League, 8720 Twinbrook Drive., Mentor. Free spectator admission. Call, 216-956-4874.

Sept. 9-11 - Lake County Visitors Bureau’s annual PerchFest with fishing derby set for Sept. 10 and 11. Call, 1-800-368-LAKE.

Sept. 10 and 11 - Gun and Knife Show, Medina Fairgrounds, Medina. Admission, $6. Visit

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Monday, August 1, 2011

NEO poor place to walk from here to there

If you’re looking for a walkabout from home to grocery store then Ohio in general and Northeast Ohio in particular is not your likely mode of transportation. has rated cities throughout the United States as to how favorable they are for walking beyond just for exercise. That would include opportunities to walk for shopping.

Ohio does not fare well.

In the 90 and above ranking (“Walker’s Paradise”), no Ohio community earned this distinction.

Neither did any Ohio community collect the “Very Walkable” status with a score of 70 to 89.

The best that any Ohio community could do was Lakewood’s score of 68.

Remaining are the “Somewhat Walkable” score of 50 to 69, “Car-dependent I” score of 25 to 49, and also - again - Car-dependent II of 0 to 24.

The description for the titles are: Walker’s Paradise - Daily errands do not require a car; Very Walkable - Most errands can be accomplished on foot; Somewhat Walkable - Some amenities within walking distance; Car Dependent I - A few amenities within walking distance; Car-dependent II - Almost all errands require a car.

A look at some area communities and their scores were: Ashtabula (42), Eastlake (39), Euclid (46), Mayfield Heights (54), Mentor (34), Painesville (48), South Euclid (56), Willoughby (42).

The web site does allow a viewer to see what their own home walkable score is. Simply follow the appropriate link at

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn