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