Monday, February 28, 2011

Gates Mills dam loss is steelheaders gain

The catastrophic failure of the 105-year-old low-head dam in Gates Mills Village today has created a while new fishing hole.

Its loss now means that migrating steelhead trout can swim their way upstream to as far as Chagrin Falls in Cuyahoga County.

The Gates Mills dam was the second such low-head dam to fail during a storm event, the first being the structure at Willoughby’s Daniels Park dam.

“Well, that opens lot more of the Chagrin River to steelhead - all the way to Chagrin Falls; past Cleveland Metroparks’ South Chagrin Reservation,” said Phil Hillman, fisheries management supervisor for the Wildlife Division’s District Three (Northeast Ohio) office in Akron. “That’s more than four more miles of stream that open up with some good public access.”

And while some of the stream lies along private property just having South Chagrin Reservation available will help spread out fishing pressure, Hillman said.

“Just as it did when the Daniels park dam failed; it’s all new frontier, especially for dyed-in-the-wool steelheaders who are willing to walk longer distances so long as they encounter fewer other anglers,” Hillman said.

Still, any trespassing on private property will require written permission from the landowner, Hillman said.

"But at least we didn’t hear of too many problems regarding trespassing when the Daniels Park dam,” Hillman said

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Friday, February 25, 2011

Are your hunting tools among these top favorites?

Southwick Associates has announced the brands hunters and shooters purchased most frequently in 2010. This list has been compiled from the 41,923 internet-based surveys completed by hunters and target shooters who volunteered to participate last year in and polls.

In 2010, top brands included (Alas, however), Southwick has failed to include "Top Crossbow Brand" - a glaring omission:

Top rifle brand: Remington (17.5% of all purchases)
Top shotgun brand: Remington & Mossberg (virtual tie with 21.5% of all purchases)
Top muzzleloader brand: Thompson Center (31.9% of all purchases)
Top handgun brand: Sturm Ruger (16.7% of all purchases)
Top scope for firearms: Bushnell (17.1% of all purchases)
Top rifle ammunition brand: Remington (25.3% of all purchases)
Top shotgun ammunition brand: Winchester (31.9% of all purchases)
Top handgun ammunition brand: Winchester (22.0% of all purchases)
Top blackpowder brand: Pyrodex (38.7% of all purchases)
Top balls, bullets, or shot brand: Hornady (28.4% of all purchases)
Top bow brand: Matthews (17.5% of all purchases)
Top arrow brand: Carbon Express (27.6% of all purchases)
Top fletching brand: Blazer (15.8% of all purchases)
Top broadhead brand: Muzzy (20.3% of all purchases)
Top archery target brand: The Block (10.3% of all purchases)
Top decoy brand: Mojo (12.9% of all purchases)
Top game call brand: Primos (33.5% of all purchases)
Top reloading bullet brand: Hornady (31.7% of all purchases)
Top reloading primer brand: CCI (38.2% of all purchases)
Top reloading powder brand: Hodgdon (37.8% of all purchases)
Top binocular brand: Bushnell (33.6% of all purchases)
Top holster brand: Uncle Mikes (19.0% of all purchases)
Top knife brand: Gerber (15.0% of all purchases)
Top scent or scent covering brand: Scent-A-Way, Scent Shield (14.7% of all purchases each)
Top shooting target brand: Shoot-N-C (31.3% of all purchases)
Top clay brand: White Flyer (51.8% of all purchases)

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Brown County Five case inching along; no oral arguements planned

The court case involving the so-called Brown County Five is inching forward though the state’s 12th District Court of Appeals in Cincinnati likely won’t render a decision until late summer.

At the earliest, says Brown County Prosecutor Jessica A. Little.

It is Little who has filed an appeal regarding a technical point of law after being rebuffed late last year in Brown County Common Pleas Court.

Little said also that while she is in the process of writing a brief to present to the appellate court she has not requested that oral arguments be made; her privilege.

The reason, says Little, is because the issue deals with the technical Garrity Rights Rule and its potential application to the five felony-indicted former or present Ohio Division of Wildlife administrators.

“I’m working on the brief now and I received the transcript of testimony,” said Little who added she has 20 days from receiving the transcript to filing her brief.

After Little has filed her brief with the court the defense has 21 days to respond after which the Brown County Prosecutor has 10 days to write a rebuttal brief.

“I don’t see a (court) decision coming before six months; I’d be surprised if it happened before that,” Little said.

As for not making an appearance before the judges to present oral arguments, the issue before the jurists is one of law so that such verbal presentations are not necessary, Little said as well.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Blue moon rare: No proposed deer hunting changes

With an 8.4 percent drop in the state’s all-deer-hunting-seasons kill, the Ohio Division of Wildlife has taken a rare step.

The agency’s 2011-2012 deer hunting proposals are so close to those encountered they are virtually identical. This lack of proposed changes likely happens less frequently than there being five Sundays in February.

Only if you hunt in far-away Fayette County is any change being proposed. This county will slide over from Deer Zone B to the even more restrictive Deer Zone A.

Other than that, if you could understand the labyrinth of last year’s convoluted deer-hunting instructions you’ll master this year’s laws and rules as well.

Rare is it when the Wildlife Division does not bring at least one major - often, controversial - rule change proposal to the table. So says the agency’s wildlife management administrator Dave Scott.

“The biggest change, of course, is how deer will be checked in under the new system,” Scott said of the state’s new $16 million license-issuing and game check-in program.

With such an expected massive undertaking the Wildlife Division did not want to add any other potentially distracting changes, Scott said.

“I suppose that next year there may be more changes in where counties are located in which deer zone,” Scott said.

Yet even veteran deer hunters get confused over the layer upon layer of deer hunting rules, regulations, requirements and stipulations.

Complicating matters are that the state’s Urban Deer Zones are themselves located within specific general deer zones. This can lead to confusion as to which permit is acceptable and when as well as where along with whether an antlered deer can be shot or if an antlerless-only tag is acceptable after a certain date.

Not on the agenda this time around during discussions is whether certain straight-walled cartridges will become acceptable tools if used in rifles or if the current ban on all centerfire rifle continues.

Likewise still off the table is any decision on whether to open up the various gun seasons to include hunting until 30 minutes after sunset. Now, hunting during the gun seasons must stop at sunset, except if you’re archery hunting in which case you can stay afield 30 minutes longer.

See what I mean about being complicated?

In any event here are the proposed dates for the state’s 2011-2012 deer hunting seasons:

n Archery season - Sept. 24 to Feb. 5, 2012.

n Special muzzle-loading season for three designated areas - Oct. 17 to 22.

n Youth-only firearms deer-hunting season - Nov. 19 and 20.

n General firearms deer hunting season - Nov. 28 to Dec. 4.

n Bonus firearms deer-hunting season - Dec. 17 and 18.

n Statewide muzzle-loading deer-hunting season - Jan. 7 to 10, 2012.

Open houses on the proposals as well as accepting comments on future possible changes are slated for each of the state’s five wildlife administrative districts between noon and 3 p.m., March 5.

The closest one is at the headquarters for Wildlife District Three (Northeast Ohio), 912 Portage Lakes Drive, Akron.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

(Updated) Weekly defensive shooting program right on target/with Video

Gunfire rang out on either side of my own shooting stall, the side boards vibrating from the blasts.

My own pipsqueak .22-caliber Browning Buckmark barked too but the sound was that a chihuahua makes and not some fearsome pit bull heard from an adjacent .45-caliber auto or even from the 9mm-caliber pistol on the opposite side of me.

The thing was, however, the use of the Buckmark target pistol was the tune-up to what would come later in the twice-weekly defensive shooting program held Tuesdays and Thursdays at Atwell’s Police and Fire Equipment shooting range, 207 Chestnut St., Painesville.

The brainchild of local gunsmith, fast-draw artist and all-things firearms expert Ron Paul Duning of Willowick, the program is designed to help handgun owners feel more comfortable with their defensive sidearms.

Such familiarity would prove vital - possibly even life saving - in the (heaven forbid) case where a person needs to draw and fire a weapon at a threatening foe.
Duning holds court and cleverly refreshes the shooting format with the winter, spring and summer shooting sessions.

If that were not enough, Duning also mixes up the format even more. When a shooter becomes familiar with one target then Duning insists that a smaller target be employed. In this way the shooter is ever increasingly challenged.

Of course when I “advance” from my Browning .22-cailber to either my .380-caliber concealed carry/home protection Bersa Thunder pistol I’ll return back to using the larger targets.

But as I improve, the targets will once again shrink until I end up using my Taurus version of the Colt Model 1911 .45-caliber pistol.

The program is not only a fun way to spend an evening but also a great way to keep the shooting eye straight on the bull’s-eye or mugger-image paper target.

For further information, contact Duning at 216-956-4874;; or visit his business at 38342 Western Parkway #6, Willoughby, across from the city’s Lost Nation Airport.

There also is a video about the program that can be found on The News-Herald’s web site at, “videos.”

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

New license issuing system working, though not perfectly

With one week under its belt, the Ohio Division of Wildlife is working to refine its new $16 million Internet-based license-issuing system.

And there are still snags in the fabric that hook the system the way Velcro can tangle a loose piece of clothing.

Between February 15 and Monday the state has issued 1,175 licenses, permits and tags. Most were for fishing licenses though some folks like me bought their hunting license along with a waterfowl permit. Some 13 percent of these documents were issued via the agency’s Internet (e-commerce) website.

Lake County saw 229 documents sold. Among them were 137 resident fishing licenses and even two antlerless-only tags as well as six shooting range permits and two fall turkey hunting permits. Value was $2,921, less $162 in agent issuing fees.

In Geauga County, the state sold 81 documents with - interestingly - 10 of them being either-sex deer tags. Total sales were $874, less $37 for agent issuing fees.

In all for the seven-day period there were 92 documents sold in Ashtabula County of which 51 were for resident fishing licenses. The state even sold one duplicate license in Ashtabula County as well as two either-sex deer tags. Total sales were $1,486, less $78 for the agent fee.

Cuyahoga County saw the sale of 358 documents that totaled $4,026, less $228 in agent issuing fees.

Korey Brown, the Wildlife Division’s administrator in charge of the new license-issuing system, says the program has had some snafus but "more positives than negative.”

As a personal aside, I visited Gander Mountain’s Mentor Store this afternoon and bought my resident fishing and hunting licenses as well as waterfowl permit. Each were printed on separate sheets of paper which I understand was not suppose to have happened.

Further, the documents are somewhat ambiguous as to what can be tossed aside and what perforated parts need to be kept.

Brown said that is an issue that can be looked into as as well as the one dealing with the toll-free telephone number required to be accessed in order to obtain a HIP identification number to go with the permit. The required call moves along at a goodly clip that required close attention and two repeats before I was comfortable with writing down the correct lengthy HIP number.

Likewise I was VERY uncomfortable as the clerk typed in my driver's license number that was visible to the persons behind me who were awaiting to make actual store purchases.

I shudder to think how even more uncomfortable I’d have been had I instead provided my Social Security number.

While we’re at it, the two customers were none too happy with the time it took for the clerk to issue the documents to me; perhaps a portend of what’s in store when the state sells its largest volumes of licenses, permits and tags

Or perhaps worse on opening day of the firearms deer-hunting season when tens of thousands of successful hunters access the system to check in their respective kills.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

When to catch the big one

If you're looking to enter Ohio's record fish book you might as well stay indoors during January and February.

Of the 47 eligible entries in the Outdoor Writers of Ohio's Record Fish program no winners are noted for either January or February.

It is the state's outdoors writers' group that maintains Ohio's record fish list; the only such journalist association in the country that handles this work. OWO works closely with the Ohio Division of Wildlife and Ohio Sea Grant in ensuring positive identification of fish species and weeding out potential non-record fish or ineligible species.

The most active months for reeling in a record-book fish are May (12), July (9), and April (8).

Other months include five for June, three for August, and two each for March, September, October, November and December.

The oldest state record is for the 1.97 pound rock bass caught from Deer Creek on Sept. 3, 1932 by George A. Keller of Dayton.

- Tom Cross - the 10-year-chairman of OWO's Record Fish Committee is stepping down after this year as head of the group responsible for certifying state record fish.

For further information about the program, visit the Outdoor Writers of Ohio's web site at

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Few changes seen in new 2011-2012 fishing law digest

With Ohio's new 2011-2012 fishing licenses now on sale the Ohio Division of Wildlife has also released its free associated fishing law digest.

Changes are noted in red type. But there are not very many changes. The most significant one is the allowing of taking 30 yellow perch lakewide in Ohio's waters. At least through May 1 when yet-to-be-announced new Lake Erie walleye and perch limits and such are made official.

Other changes found in the digest include the requirement that military personnel stationed in Ohio but not on leave must purchase a resident fishing license.

Likewise a number of lakes have seen their walleye/sauger/saugeye limit changed to 6 daily. Among them: West Branch Reservoir.

The fishing law digest is available wherever licenses are sold.

By the way, printing of the digests cost just under 5 cents each with nearly 1.3 million having been printed.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

New day arrives for issuing hunting/fishing licenses

Today marks the premier opening for Ohio's new $16 million hunting and fishing license issuing system.

While no snags have been reported at the Ohio Division of Wildlife end, at least one local vendor is experiencing internal computer problems. These circumstances are presently preventing Gander Mountain's Mentor store from issuing the necessary documents in order for sportsmen to hunt and fish.

"I can say right now that we're selling hundreds of licenses and I can give you an exact count tomorrow morning," said Korey Brown, the Wildlife Division's administrator in charge of the new web-based license-issuing and check-in system.

All hunters and anglers will need to utilize this system when they go to buy their respective 2011-2012 tags, permits and licenses. Deer and turkey hunters also will find that to check in their kills they'll need to follow the system's protocols that can use a telephone, computer, or allow for a visit to a license-issuing agent.

At my local sportsmen's club annual meeting on Sunday the Wildlife Division's two representatives explained the program.

The agents included mentioning the federal and state requirement that a person must supply his or her Social Security number when first applying for a license. The requirement is mandated in order to check to see if an applicant is behind in child support and thus ineligible to buy a license.

That being said, however, several club members expressed concern about supplying their Social Security number and how secure it will be against identity theft and subsequent fraud.

While the Wildlife Division will do all that it can to prevent such theft there is no 100-percent guarantee that somehow, somewhere and by someone the information won't become accessible to unauthorized people, Brown said.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Friday, February 11, 2011

Wildlife Division snowshoe hare researcher defends work

A research student hired by the Ohio Division of Wildlife to conduct field work on Northeast Ohio’s snowshoe hare project disputes arguments made by some agency officials as to his performance.

Likewise, says Matt Drda, from his extensive work the several-year project seems to have closed in on a dead end.

Drda said he did not quit college nor did he leave just a cluttered stack of notes for state biologists to sift through.

“I never quit school I’m currently enrolled at Cuyahoga Community College finishing up my degree which will still be from The Ohio State University,” Drada said in an E-mail sent today.

The decision to return to his West Side home was for family reasons, Drda says.

“Leaving OSU was a choice I had to make,” he said.

As for the snowshoe hares themselves, Drda says the species’ population “is extremely low.”

“From my research there isn’t a suitable population for them to make a comeback into the state,” Drda said via another E-mail.

“I talked to hundreds of people in there area and only a handful have even seen any snowshoes since the releases. Some of these people were active hunters and trappers as well. Who are in the woods on a daily basis.”

Drda says the habitat into which the hares were released has begun to change, going from first stage successional to more mature open hard and soft woods.

Thus, Drda contends, “predators can easily find the hares in these areas due to the lack of cover.”

“I feel that when they did the releases there wasn’t any organization as to thoughts in the future as to how the hares would adjust to the habitats,” Drda said.

Drda did add that he received strong support from the staff of the Wildlife Division’s Grand River Wildlife Area in Trumbull County.

“...they worked in helping to get me on snowshoes and that they were very knowledgeable about the area,” Drda said of the Grand River Wildlife Area staff.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Pennsylvania Game Commission's finances running on fumes

Without any hunting license or related fee increases since 1998, the Pennsylvania Game Commission’s financial safety net has all but rotted away to nothingness.

The Commission’s executive director, Carl G. Roe, today addressed the Pennsylvania state legislature as part of the agency’s reporting mandate.

His comments regarding the agency’s finances were grim. Noting that while the agency has $39 balance that is only about one-half of its budget authorization.

Even with royalties collected from gas and oil drilling revenues - totaling $12 million last year - the typical revenue-generation process is normally one-half that, Roe told the legislators.

“Marcellus Shale revenue has allowed us to barely tread water, but not allowed us to move forward with much needed funding to support our diverse wildlife habitat and species management program,” Roe said.

Almost as bad, while the Game Commission received an increase in federal funding through the excise tax on firearms and ammunition the agency was obligated to spend more to get this cash. In effect, a two-steps-forward and one-step-back approach to finances.

To maintain agency solvency Roe encouraged the legislature to approve increases to all types of hunting licenses and permits.

Likewise, Roe asked that the legislature adopt an excise tax on shooting and hunting equipment like firearms, archery tackle and ammunition as well as give the agency some of the state and local sales tax receipts.

Roe’s argument for this last request is that hunting contributes around $212 million in such tax receipts. Thus the agency deserves a share of this pie, Roe reasons.

Lastly, Roe is asking the legislature for permission to allow the Commission to set license fees on a graduating basis. This would take control over license increases out of the hands of the elected officials and allow them to be set by unelected bureaucrats.

That request will almost certainly fail as will any request to siphon off sales tax receipts.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Black bear/bobcat sightings on rise in Ohio

Last year saw saw a significant increase in the number of black bear sightings in the state, including in Northeast Ohio.

The same applies to the even more secretive bobcat.

All told, 164 verified and unverified sightings involving an estimated 88 individual bears were reported to the Ohio Division of Wildlife. Last year that figure 119 sightings and involving an estimated 72 individual animals.

Bears were reportedly seen last year in 36 of Ohio's 88 counties.

In Northeast Ohio, Ashtabula County and Trumbull County led the region with 12 confirmed and unconfirmed sightings each while Geauga County recorded 7 such instances. Lake County had 4 such sightings. No sightings were recorded in either Cuyahoga or Lorain counties.

The most reported sightings were in Athens and Portage counties, each with 13.

As for the prospects that at least some of these bears are home-grown animals, sows with cubs or just cub sightings were made 10 times, including one case in Ashtabula County where on two occasions a sow with two cubs was reported.

Geauga County was also twice the reported scene of a sow with either two or three cubs.

Typically, an official with the Wildlife Division attempts to verify a sighting reported to the agency, usually done by the wildlife officer assigned to the respective county.

As for bobcat sightings, the numbers here had risen as well, probably due in no small measure to the use of trail cameras placed by deer hunters.

Last year bobcats were reportedly seen in 301 unconfirmed cases and 106 confirmed cases. Both figures are up from their respective 2009 figures, the Wildlife Division says.

Since 2008, reports the Wildlife Division, trail camera video, photographs and digital images have proven the most frequent method of making a verifiable claim of a bobcat.

Since 1970, bobcats sightings have occurred in 83 of Ohio's 88 counties. Multiple sightings - verified and unverified - have come from all Northeast Ohio counties.

One raccoon huntsman reported that early last fall his dogs twice chased a bobcat in the Chardon Township-Kirtland Hills area.

Both bobcats and black bears are considered endangered species in Ohio and are protected accordingly.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Lake Metroparks to require guide permit, requirements

Professional fishing guides utilizing Lake Metroparks stream access now need to approach the agency for proper paperwork.

While the parks system has always had a policy whereby anyone offering a pay-for service must secure a free permit the issue has seen little daylight. Until now, that is, as Lake Metroparks has built a series of required steps to go along with park system policy.

“It’s really been a park rule for many years but it hadn’t been brought to anyone’s attention so I went to our ranger department and asked it to address the matter with compliant components,” said Steve Madewell, Lake Metroparks’ executive director. “What it is is a registration requirement.”

The three stipulations include obtaining a free calendar-year permit, maintain a $1 million general liability policy and which names the parks system’s three-person board of park commissioners as an insured entity. Proof of this policy holding is a requirement in order to obtain the free permit, Madewell said also.

Similarly, the guide must successfully pass a certified CPR and first aid course.

“That subject was recommended by our legal counsel,” Madewell said.
Madewell said as well that area fishing guides have voiced their support for the permit requirement and its associated stipulations.

“This speaks well of the profession and the professionals,” he said.

Lake Metroparks officials add that all properly registered guides must understand park property boundaries and also be in compliance with all applicable Ohio Division of Wildlife rules and laws.

Lake Metroparks owns or controls property along several important steelhead-fishing streams. Among them are both the Grand and Chagrin rivers as well as Kellogg, Arcola, Big, Paine, and Mill creeks. It also offers fishing at such inland waters as Granger's Pond and Hidden Lake.

Anyone desiring to obtain the free required permit can contact Lake Metroparks’ ranger office at 440-358-7290.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Preliminary county-by-county total deer harvest stats look grim

With final - though still unofficial - 2010-2011 all-seasons deer harvest numbers in the results show that fewer animals were taken this past hunting year.

Statistics compiled by the Ohio Division of Wildlife indicate that hunters shot 237,134 animals this past season. Last year the official figure was 261,840 deer. This represents a harvest decline approaching 10 percent.

It must be remembered that all figures are preliminary only and represent where deer were checked in and not actually taken. Final and official figures will come later this winter.

Each of the Wildlife Division’s five districts recorded declines; the heaviest toll was Wildlife District Four with a decline of more than 16 percent. This drop includes some of the state’s premier deer hunting counties such as Guernsey (off 22.49 percent), Hocking (off 28.58 percent), and Coshocton (off 6.26 percent).

In fact, all of District Four’s 19 counties showed declines.

Northeast Ohio is contained within Wildlife District Three and here 14 of the 19 counties showed drops. The most was Jefferson County with a 22.14 percent fall.

District Three gains were modest at best. Lorain County saw a plus of 5.67 percent with Ashtabula County observing a 1.15 percent increase. Geauga County saw a drop of 2.7 percent with Lake County noting a decline of 16.45 percent while Medina County preliminarily recording a 8.61 percent drop and Trumbull County seeing a 5.82 percent decline.

Though Wildlife District Two (northwest Ohio) saw a district-wide drop of only 0.05 percent, Erie County’s fall registered 27.43 percent and Sandusky experienced a decline of 11.24 percent.

Here are the preliminary all-seasons’ deer harvest for select counties with their respective final 2009-2010 figures in parentheses: Ashtabula - 5,178 (5,119), Lake - 1,077 (1,289), Geauga - 2,129 (2,188), Cuyahoga - 1,046 (836), Trumbull - 3,790 (4,024), Lorain - 2,947 (2,789), Erie - 873 (1,203), Huron - 2,570 (2,582), Medina - 2,081 (2,277), Guernsey - 7,197 (9,285), Coshocton - 6,756 (7,207), Hocking - 3,753 (5,255), Tuscarawas - 11,102 (12,531), Muskingum - 4,680 (5,576), Licking - 8,329 (8,942), Knox - 5,597 (5,795), Van Wert - 1,065 (637 for a 67.19 percent gain), Paulding - 1,819 (1,089 for a 67.03 percent rise), Fayette - 268 (491 for a 45.42 percent drop), and Fulton - 1,167 (848 for a 37.62 percent gain).

The state will digest these figures and brew them with other statistics and details in order to make recommendations for the various 2011-2012 deer-hunting seasons.

State biologists are not anticipating any significant changes though they may very well explore possibilities. Among them would be extending the shooting hours during the several firearms-related seasons until one-half hour after sunset instead of closing the hour at sunset daily as is the case now.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Enhanced ethanol-rich fuel a danger to boat owners

E15 is going to be to boaters what E-Check is to a lot of Ohio motorists.

Maybe even worse.

While the environmental checking of a motor vehicle is an intrusion into one's time and possibly a raid on the wallet if work is required, E15 will most certainly wreck havoc on outboard engines.

The federal government's Environmental Protection Agency has given the all-clear for fuel manufacturers to deliver gasoline with 15 percent ethanol, or E15 for short.

Problem is, gas-fired outboard engines cannot tolerate more than 10 percent ethanol. Anything more than that percentage and engine components become compromised and will need replacement.

At an owner's expense, too, since outboard engine manufacturers void their warranties whenever an owner uses fuel with an ethanol content greater than 10 percent.

Just about everything involved with E15 is bad for an outboard, says BoatUS, the nations' leading pro-boating organization.

For starters it absorbs moisture, contains oxygen which can lead to over heating of an engine and prematurely ages certain - but vital - outboard components.

The trick, then, for boaters is to ensure the gasoline they buy at a service station on the way to the boat launch - the most popular venue for such purchases - has no more than 10 percent ethanol.

And those boaters who buy their fuel at a marina also must be diligent in demanding that their fuel has no more than 10 percent ethanol. Better yet, says BoatUS, is for that fuel to be ethanol free.

"When filling up at service stations, many boaters are used to pulling up to a pump and filling their tow vehicle first and then putting the same fuel nozzle in the boat," said BoatUS official Bob Adriance. "If that happens with E15, it could be a big mistake."

And costly, too.

At least the U.S. EPA intends to require the placement of warning stickers on each fuel pump, though the exact wording has not been finalized, Adriance said.

For further information, visit BoatUS's web site on the subject at

Monday, February 7, 2011

2010 Fish Ohio/Master Angler pin program is snapping into place

The last of the Ohio Division of Wildlife single category Fish Ohio pins are - as the saying goes - in the mail.

Not too far behind will come the agency’s Master Angler award pins and certificates.

And though some anglers have received more than one “regular” Fish Ohio pin, the agency does everything possible to try and ensure that duplicates are avoided, says the Wildlife Division’s administrator in charge of the program.

“I do my best not to have duplicates and even look to see if there might be a name that’s missing a middle initial or has one where another application doesn’t but sometimes a person may get more than one pin,” said agency Fish Ohio administrator, Vicki Farus.

Farus said also she is presently in the process of formatting the data base to compile the complete list of Master Angler candidates and readying their respective certificates.

“Once that is done we’ll print out the certificates and mail them with the appropriate pin,” Farus said.

Such work should be completed shortly, Farus said as well.

From just a snapshot thumbnail look, it appears that the list of single Fish Ohio qualifiers is a little shorter than that of last year while the Master Angler list may end up a little longer, Farus says.

As for the agency’s Grand Slam program, that Fish Ohio segment’s three categories saw just “a handful” of submissions, Farus said.

“Only four, in fact, and all of those were for Lake Erie and none for the Ohio River or Inland,” Farus said. “I don’t know if many people even know about the Grand Slam program but I’m not aware of any plans to drop it.”

Information about all three Fish Ohio segments is available online at and than under the “fishing” section.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Thursday, February 3, 2011

New Lake County wildlife officer getting taste of the area

Jason Keller, recently installed as the state wildlife officer assigned to Lake County, is getting his baptism via the guidance of Tom Rowan.

Rowan, of course, is the long-time Ohio Division of Wildlife officer assigned to Lake County and a native of it as well. Rowan has switched Wildlife Division gears and is not the agency's law enforcement supervisor for Northeast Ohio.

For Keller, the 2 1/2 weeks he's spent thus far in Lake County have proven an eye-opener, he says.

Among the biggest surprises?

"All the trees. I thought it would be one city after another," Keller said over lunch today.

That sentiment is often displayed by newbees who've never experienced Lake County before. Now Keller is getting the Full Monte look at the county as Rowan pilots him around from one choice steelhead fishing spot to the next top deer-hunting location.

On tap is a get-acquainted meeting with the staff from Lake Metroparks and a deeper and more thorough look at Concord Township along with some other locations. Among them: The Kirtland-based Holden Arboretum.

As Roawn's experienced throughout his life and career, Lake County is far more diverse than many people appreciate with lots more outdoors opportunities being available than some may think.

Welcome aboard, Jason Keller. May your career be a long one and your tenure here in Lake County prove fruitful and enjoyable.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

UPDATED Another road marker in so-called "Brown County Five" case

The case involving the so-called “Brown County Five” reaches another way point February 17 on its expected long journey through the Ohio court system.

On that date Brown County Prosecutor Jessica A. Little must turn over her prosecution transcripts to Ohio’s 12th District Court of Appeals in Cincinnati.

The defense then has 21 days to respond to Little’s brief after which the Brown County prosecutor will have an opportunity to respond with a rebuttal of her own, Little said today.

“That’s when I get a parting shot,” she said.

At stake are two felony indictments each against five former or current Ohio Division of Wildlife administrators. Charges against them were filed last spring as they related to discipline involving Allen Wright, state wildlife officer assigned to Brown County.

Wright had allowed a South Carolina wildlife officer to use his address to buy a resident Ohio hunting license.

Subsequently, Brown was given a written reprimand which was expunged one year later.

It has been Little contention that Wright should have been charged criminally instead of administratively. This touched off the filing of charges against the five officials and which included both David Graham and Randy Miller, the-then chief and assistant chief (respectively) of the Wildlife Division. Both of these officials have since retired.

That leaves the agency’s law enforcement administrator, James Lehman, its human resources manager, Michelle Ward-Tackett, and the Wildlife Division’s District Five (southwest Ohio) director, Todd Haines, as the three remaining top officials still with the agency and who are similarly charged.

These five officials won the first court victory when Brown County Common Pleas Court Judge Scott Gusweiler ruled in the defendants’ favor regarding a technical point that may or may not have more broad implications.

Little said also that it is her belief it will take months for the appellate court to render a decision.

And regardless of which way the appeals court decides, either the defense or the prosecution will in all probability seek a final resolution before the Ohio Supreme Court, Little says.

“It’s a novel issue,” she said.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

UPDATED ODNR retirees, others worried about their and Department's future

With state government starting to churn with new legislative and executive grease, the speed at which the gearing shifts is looking to increase.

Of concern to at least some retired Ohio Department of Natural Resources employees is the fear is that the tempo may make their lives just so much road kill.

Not only are these former Natural Resources staffers concerned about their own futures but what may happen to the agency as well.

Then too, the Natural Resources Department has sent out a general invitation for people to submit applications for the position of chief of the Ohio Division of Wildlife.

As for the retirees, their worries may very well be justified. Documents indicate that the employee/employer contributions to state pensions and retiree health insurance may go up as well as requiring greater employee contributions to the same funds instead of the money coming from tax-supported sources.

Other troubling points suggest “uniformity” in the percentage of health insurance costs paid by old and new retirees.

The practice of so-called “double-dipping” would be prohibited except for “extraordinary, high-need situations.”

The “Redesigning Ohio Report” also appears to suggest reducing the number of state pension systems “to capture administrative savings.”

As for the consolidation of the Natural Resource Department, that issue was first brought to the front last year in the legislature. Under this scheme would be created a Department of Resource Protection with a then described Division of Land that would include many of the present ODNR functions. Among them would be Wildlife, Watercraft, Parks and Recreation and Forestry.

Among other units would be those associated with farmland preservation, specialty crop support, county agricultural societies and awards, and “the plant industry.”
Wildlife and Watercraft would be divided even further. Its law enforcement officers - county wildlife officers - would fall under a “Resource Quality Assurance Division” that likewise would include various other entities.

Among them would be Utility Radiological Safety, Engineering Activities, Food and Drug Safety, Ohio Air Quality Development Authority, licensing and permitting; or 12 sub-divisions in all.

A third division would be the Division of Public Awareness that would include resource conservation activities (fish and wildlife management?), pollution prevention, recycling and litter control, science advisory programs, seven segments in all.

A forth sub-division would be called Division of Grant and Disbursements. This agency would be responsible for administering and distributing federal and state environmental and agricultural grants.

It begs, however, an answer as to whether such oversight would include federal money obtained from the tax on fishing and hunting equipment and required by law for use only on related projects and programs.

Scott Zody, assistant director for the Natural Resources Department, said reconfiguring agencies or consolidations “will be looked at” not only with the up-coming two-year operating budget and beyond.

“I think the general position at this point that we’re not necessarily wedded to one idea or another and all are up for consideration,” Zody said.

“At the same time there’s been a lot of attention to local government reform as well, as was the example in Cuyahoga County which started the conversation.”

Zody said a very serious need exists to look at the whole spectrum of government restructuring.

“And the ODNR is just one piece of that,” Zody said.

But, Zody says as well, the state needs to look at ways to make government more efficient and improve customer service.

“Obviously you’re going to hear a lot of concerns from stake holders and we have to be sensitive to Wildlife and Watercraft and that their funds are used for those lawful purposes,” Zody said. “And we have heard from interests from both of those sides.”

If anyone is interested in becoming a part of this potential hornet’s nest of legislative and executive meddling and control they can apply for the current - maybe soon to be extinct - job as Wildlife Division chief. See for details.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Things you may not know about groundhogs

I'm not sure if this made it on Facebook or not... But here are a number of "I didn't know that" facts about groundhogs as supplied by the National Wildlife Federation.

After all, Groundhogs Day is Wednesday and happens to a favorite holiday for Bev and me. I even have a very nice floral arrangement delivered to Bev on this special day.

Where was I? Oh, yes, tidbits on groundhogs:

Groundhogs are true hibernators which fall into a trance-like stupor to get through the winter. During this time a groundhog's body temperature can drop from 99 degrees to as low as 37 degrees; Heart rate will fall from 80 beats per minute to 5 beats per minute; Breathing drops from 16 breaths per minute to as few as 2 breaths per minute; Groundhogs may hibernate up to 150 days yet lose only 1/4 through body weight due to their lowered metabolism; When awake, a groundhog can eat one pound of vegetation per sitting (equal to a 150-pound person eating a 15-pound steak); A groundhog's teeth can grow 1/16 inch per day, requiring constant trimming; If the teeth are not aligned properly a tooth can grow and then pierce the skull or lower jaw, killing the animal; A groundhog can dig a hole 6 feet deep with a labyrinth extending up to 20 feet; A groundhog's top speed is just 8 mph, or much slower than one of its enemies - the red fox which can reach speeds of up to 25 mph.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn