Friday, March 30, 2012

Feral cats a top prey for coyotes

The American Bird Conservancy is citing new studies that show just how important feral cats are to diets of urban-dwelling coyotes.

Studies indicate that "free-range" cats make up anywhere from 13 to 45 percent of the diets of urban-dwelling coyotes, the Bird Conservancy group says

The latest conflict was reported by the Geauga Park District where yesterday - March 29 - a woman was chased up a tree by an advancing coyote along a trail at the agency's Frohring Meadows in Bainbridge Township.

Biologist say the situation was likely one where the coyote was looking to protect its denning site. As a result of the encounter the trail has been closed to the public.

However, the matter involving coyotes seeking out cats for a quick and easy meal shows just how dependent the wild canines are on the domesticated felines, the Bird Conservancy group says as well.

As often as not when a coyote comes across a cat the former is going to eat the latter, a point brought home in a widely cited study on cat mortality from coyotes, the Bird Conservancy group says.

And the findings further suggest that the popular "trap, neuter, release" (TNR) programs where feral cats are caught, fixed and then returned to the wild in order to cut back on the number of offspring is a bad idea not only for birds but also cats, the Bird Conservancy group also says.

Feral cats - and household cats let outdoors during the day or night - kill upwards of 500 million birds each year, and also have been linked to extinction of 33 bird species, says Robert Johns, American Bird Conservancy spokesman.

"The TNR programs do not provide a humane solution for the cats themselves," Johns said.

And the group's Vice President of Conservation Advocacy Darin  Schroeder says also that "well-meaning but misguided cat lovers are creating unsafe conditions for domestic cats by releasing them back into areas where they may become prey for coyotes and other predators."

"Owners who let their cats out into their neighborhoods may be unknowingly ringing the dinner bell to unseen coyotes," Schroeder says.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn
Twitter: @Fieldkorn

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Indicted Wildlife Division officials back to work

The two remaining Ohio Division of Wildlife officials under indictment in the Brown County Five affair returned to work today following 60 days of unpaid administrative leave.

And while Michele Ward-Tackett and Todd Haines could have been placed on paid administrative leave - as required by the Ohio Revised Code - the Ohio Department of Natural Resources decided to let them work instead.

Ward-Tackett had been the Wildlife Division’s Human Resources manager while Haines was the agency’s District Five (southwest Ohio) manager. They are the only two Wildlife Division officials who remain as employees.

However, while Ward-Tackett and Haines are working they both remain on short leads.

Ward-Tackett is reporting to the Natural Resources Department’s human resources section while Haines is working with the Wildlife Division’s wildlife administration wing.

The agency believes that putting the two back to work at the Natural Resources Department’s Columbus headquarters campus complex was “a reasonable alternative” to putting them on paid administrative leave where they would draw a paycheck but contribute nothing to the work flow, says Natural Resources Department’s deputy chief of communications Bethany McCorkle.

“Both employees (have) reported to the ODNR’s main office for work and will have duties similar to what they’ve been doing but won’t be involved in any managerial duties,” said McCorkle. “They will be supervised closely.”

Not impacted by the Natural Resources Department’s back-to-work order are the other three indicted individuals, each of whom has since retired from the Wildlife Division.

These individuals include now-retired former Wildlife Division chief David Graham, now-retired former assistant chief Randy Miller, and now-retired former agency law enforcement executive administrator James Lehman.

Each was indicted on single counts of obstruction of justice and complicity to obstructing justice in Brown County Court of Common Pleas, having been charged about two years ago.

Their collective case is winding its way through the state’s court system with the latest legal salvo having recently been fired across the bow of the Ohio Supreme Court.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn
Twitter: @Fieldkorn

Monday, March 26, 2012

Fate of falcon nest box on FirstEnergy's Eastlake plant up in the air

Should Akron-Based FirstEnergy actually follow through and completely shut down its Eastlake coal-fired power plant the artificially peregrine falcon nesting box likely will  be removed from  utility’s imposing multi-chambered smoke stack.

There is hope, though, both for the power plant and for the falcons.

FirstEnergy earlier this year announced that it was going to shutter the Eastlake power plant and several others. All of these power plants use coal as the generating fuel source.

However, the Eastlake and the other plants are use older and less environmentally friendly coal-fired generating systems that do not meet newer U.S. Environmental Protection Agency clean air standards.

Thus, FirstEnergy believes, it would be less expensive to shut them down later this year than to reconfigure them with newer, cleaner burning systems.

And the utility is now looking at doing just that with the usage potential  for the Eastlake plant coming at peak times during the summer and winter, utility officials say.

To make a long story short, if that refurbishment should occur than what might be good for human air quality may also be good for falcons.

And for fishermen, too, who often flock to the Eastlake-CEI seawall in the dead of winter to take advantage of the warm and open water that is spewed out of the plant when its systems are operational.

But for the falcons the fact that their nesting box may remain and accessed will help ensure a platform for the raising of further broods of birds.

“Assuming we still have access we’ll be working there but where we go in the future is uncertain since this is our 10th year for the program,” said Scott Peters, the Ohio Division of Wildlife’s wildlife management administrator for the agency’s Northeast Ohio office in Akron.

The nesting box is attached about 300 feet up and is accessed from a small portal in the concrete and steel-reinforced smoke stack.

Since 2005 the pair of falcons that have consistently utilized the nesting box has successfully raised 29 offspring. This is the most of any other falcon nest in Northeast Ohio, wildlife agency officials say.

Of chief concern is whether FirstEnergy will operate the slow, ponderous elevator that crawls up the stack's outer wall. Should the plant definitely close, the elevator doors shut tight then the nesting box would be dismantled; a process that would require a federal permit.

“We’re not sure of everything just yet but if we can we’d like to go up and band the chicks but the only way we could do that is if we are allowed to use the elevator,” said also Laurie Graber, wildlife research technician for the agency’s Northeast Ohio office.

A spokesman for FirstEnergy said the utility is researching the subject.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn
Twiter: @Fieldkorn

Friday, March 23, 2012

Careful when approaching another steelheader, even if you're related

The steelhead angler huffed a categorically negative “no” when I asked if I could slip in and cast to the trout above in the next run.

A chilling response to be sure since it was me who had pointed the fly-rod-equipped angler to the pod of spawning steelhead. And that the angler also happened to be my wife, Bev, just goes to show how serious Northeast Ohio steelhead anglers can be about their sport. Even to the point of setting aside nearly 40 years of wedded bliss.

“I know if I let you in you’ll catch all of the fish,” Bev said, the hackles on the back of her head finally settling down to normal.

Yep, these steelheaders can get a mite prickly about others (supposedly) horning in on their turf.

Still, you can’t blame them. While steelhead anglers have trodden the shorelines of the Chagrin, Grand and Ashtabula rivers as well as Conneaut and other creeks since the trees still held leaves, this is when they go all-out.

The reason for this drooling excitement is the fact that for the next two or three weeks the streams will become chock-full of spawning trout. And finding the fish up on what’s called their spawning “redds” is the highlight of most steelheaders.

And that heart’s desire is no more aflame than it is in the chests of the anglers who employ fly rods.

For Bev the opportunity to try out her new Reddington fly rod, matching large arbor fly reel and Cortland fly line was the point that tipped our late afternoon fishing trip in her favor.

Bev was unable for one reason or another to christen her new equipment (which I had bought, by the way) last year.

So when my invitation arrived by way of a kiss to her cheek Bev eagerly accepted.

The stream we were to fish had been struck earlier in the day, first by me and my older brother, Rich but also by others. Simply, Northeast Ohio has no “secret” steelhead water that is still untamed and unfished.

Fortunately for us the small section of riffle water and chute were presently vacant of other anglers.

So I positioned Bev as best as I could, pointing out to her two or three pods of spawning trout. I coached Bev on where best to stand and cast, cautioning her about the vegetation growing along the stream’s bank and over-hanging the water.

Bev asked what best fly to use and I instructed her to tie on what is locally called a “crystal meth,” a sucker-spawn-like imitation made from a glassy-like synthetic fiber that sparkles.

Informed to also use no more than two B-size split shot owing to the stream’s shallow interior, Bev dutifully soaked in the recommendation. As often the case Bev tried and then rejected the best of my intentions.

Even a pink variety of the fly was tried and rejected though Bev did score two hook-ups.

Eventually Bev tied on one of her own hand-tied chartreuse sucker-spawn flies, as good a go-to lure for spawning steelhead as ever has seen the light of a fly-tying vice.

Sure enough, Bev hooked a fish, the steelhead trashing the water and upsetting the rest of the fish in the small section of stream she had staked a claim to for herself.

After a bit of a do Bev landed the steelhead, a male that spewed milt as it was beached and then measured. At 27 inches the hook-jawed male missed the Ohio minimum length of 28 inches by just a smidgen.

Back to work Bev went and kept at it until the sun hung low in the west.

Ever so reluctantly Bev spooled the line, attached the fly to the rod keeper and gingerly eased her way across the stream’s slime-slick rock and gravel.

Bev was happy. She should have been. The rod/reel combination was now officially broken in and the fly used to catch the trout was one of her own hand-made pieces.

But, boy I tell you this, Bev will guard her stretch of water the way a mother grizzly protects her territory on an Alaskan salmon stream.

I guess that means next time I better pack some bear mace or else risk getting my head chewed off.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn
Twitter: @Fieldkorn

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Odd-looking gear attracting schools of Ohio anglers

An old salt-water fishing system is attracting the interest of fresh-water bass anglers as a new way to catch largemouths.

However, the system - called the umbrella or else Alabama - method is likewise hooking the attention of professional bass-fishing tournament organizers.

What started out as a system used by salt-water anglers to catch striped bass and bluefish has evolved into usage by their fresh-water bass-fishing counterparts.

It’s not a simple rig to either load a rod and reel with nor is it inexpensive.

But it works. And works so well that the Bass Anglers Sportsmen Society has forbade its use in several of the organization’s tournament series.

Locally, at least one Ohio’s home-grown bass-fishing tournament circuit is prepared to allow the use of the Alabama rig. And that pleases area professional bass angler Richie Glavic to no end.

In a nutshell the Alabama rig is an octopus of a wire harness to which is attached about five steel wire leaders. On each leader is a snap swivel which is used to hold a hooked plastic “swimbait” that mimics a baitfish.

Obviously when you splice together a whole clump of these swimbaits what you present is a representation of a school of baitfish that no self-respecting largemouth - or two or three - can pass up.

The wire gizmo itself can cost from $20 to $40 while a package of just-so-properly paired swimbaits will set an angler back by around another $20.

And then there is the equipment needed to heave the whole shebang out to the awaiting largemouths. In Glavic’s case that includes spooling up with at least 50-pound test line (some anglers are using 80-pound test line), a heavy-duty casting rod of around 7 1/2 feet along with a beefy casting reel capable of handling all of the stresses that flinging such a monstrous enterprise entails.

Mercy, though, the system works. Last fall long-time professional bass-fishing angler Paul Elias used the rig to snatch an important FLW tournament trail victory with a whopping catch of 102 pounds of bass.

After that affair the contraption quickly snagged the attention of bass anglers everywhere, from the weekend warriors to those whose income is fueled by winning fishing tournaments.

Which has translated into income from fishing tackle firms who soon jumped on board by building their own versions.

Point is, however, the rig is not even legal in every state. For Ohio anglers the rig is not a law-breaking item but with a caveat. That limitation says anglers cannot, by law, fish with more than three hooks on any one line.

Consequently, only three of the five or so leader/swimbait combinations can contain hooks. The remaining two or three harnesses must either be shooting blanks with nothing attached to them or else fitted with swimbaits that have no hooks or else with spinners.

The Ohio Division of Wildlife believes that so great has the popularity of the rig become that the agency even has developed a web story on the subject that spells out the legal and illegal assemblies. It can be found at

As for Glavic’s take on the subject, he’s all for it.

“No one really has had much of an opportunity to use it in Ohio because it’s so new and came out last fall,”
Glavic said. “I do know that it is selling off the shelves, though.”

Glavic says he intends to use the rig both as a recreational angler as well as a tournament pro.

Where the rig will most likely induce bass to strike, Glavic says also, is on larger lakes and reservoirs where largemouth bass tend to school and seek large pods of baitfish.

That situation applies to such area fishing holes as the Portage Lakes in Akron and Mosquito Creek Reservoir in Trumbull County, Glavic says.

“It is a lot of work to use,” Glavic said. “For one thing you have to use about two ounces of weight along with the weight of the rig and lures. It’s definitely a different type of rig and a different type of technique, that’s for sure.”

All of which may be bringing chuckles and smiles to those salt-water anglers who have successfully employed even larger, more grotesque-looking, “Alabama” rigs for years to catch super-sized striped bass and bluefish.

Then again, there are ultimately few kept secrets in fishing, regardless of what lies anglers are inclined to tell.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn
Twitter: @Fieldkorn

Monday, March 19, 2012

Fish cleaning rule expansion could snag Ohio anglers

Anglers looking to finish off the cleaning of their catch need to carefully review the current 2012-2013 Ohio Fishing Law Digest.

The digest spells out what can and cannot be done regarding how fish fillets and whole fish products must be packaged for the journey to their final destination.

Among the rules is an expansion of one that before impacted anglers working Lake Erie’s Western Basin.

In the digest under the General Information category is the notation that “It is illegal to possess fish in any form other than whole or cut into complete fillets with the skin attached... until the angler reaches their permanent residence.”

And that’s the rub, says noted area night-time walleye fisherman Larry Fielder of Euclid.

In the past, Fielder says, most anglers did not have to identify the catch through the attachment some physical artifact, such as a dollop of skin affixed to a walleye’s so-called “cheek piece” or an entire length of skin over-coating a fillet sliced from a yellow perch.

That has all changed under an expansion of a rule that largely impact only those anglers fishing Lake Erie’s
“Under the new law I can’t take my processed fillets over to your house for a fish fry,” says Fielder. “There’s a lot of guys who are up in arms about this.”

Fielder said that in many - if not, most, case - anglers remove the skin during the filleting process. And frequently this chore is conducted once an angler returns to the dock and long before reaching home.

“And if a fisherman hasn’t read all of the fine print in the fishing law digest he won’t be aware of this new rule,” Fielder says.

Fielder did say that he understands the Ohio Division of Wildlife’s motive behind the move, that being, to ensure that an angler has not caught and kept more fish than he or she is entitled to as well as trying to sneak home with a fish that might have been either illegally undersized or taken out of season.

“This is going to be a tough thing for some anglers to follow and they’re only going to get caught,” Fielder says.

For the Wildlife Division the expansion to include all the waters of Ohio - among them being Ohio’s entire Lake Erie shore - is another enforcement tool to catch fish poachers, says Gino Barna, the agency’s Lake Erie law enforcement administrator.

“The reason being that over the years we’ve seen real problems with anglers having fish in the cooler that we couldn’t identify,” said Barna. “That was especially true in the spring.”

Barna says it is fortunate that Ohio have such good fishing that anglers don’t have to observe a several-day possession limit. Instead, their limitation is governed by a daily bag limit, Barna says.

“But it seems that people just take advantage of our rules,” Barna says. “Really, it’s the same type of law in many other states and even Canada.”

It’s an enforcement tool and isn’t going to be applied to everyone, “just the bad guys,” Barna says.

Barna did say that he was “surprised” that the rule is being highlighted in red in this year’s fishing law digest.

Typically whenever a rule is added, expanded or changed it is emphasized by being printed in red letters.

“We aren’t going to go to a fish cleaning stations. What we’re after are the guys who are going out two and three times a day,” Barna said also. “We’re going to use a lot of discretion.”

The penalty for such a violation is a fine of up to $250, 30 days in jail or both. This penalty is the same for violations such as fishing without a license, Barna says.

Signage is being printed for distribution, mostly along the Lake Erie shore line, with several hundred posters to be distributed this spring, Barna also says.

“I know it’s going to cause some problems but a lot of other states do it, too,” Barna says.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn
Twitter: @Fieldkorn

Friday, March 16, 2012

Concealed Carry law revisions to be sought

State Representative Terry Johnson is expected to soon introduce legislation that is intended to address several issues involving Ohio’s current concealed carry laws, says the National Rifle Association.

The NRA says that Johnson’s legislative efforts will focus on four areas. These matters include:

1) Establishing an automatic reciprocity between Ohio and other states that have automatic reciprocity for their concealed handgun licenses.  Currently, the Attorney General must enter into a written agreement with another state to establish reciprocity. This bill would still allow for written agreements between the states if the other state does not have automatic reciprocity. However, it would eliminate the requirement for a written agreement if reciprocity can occur automatically by operation of law.

2) Eliminate the renewed competency certification requirement for concealed carry license holders. Currently, after the first renewal of a person’s concealed handgun license, the individual must submit proof of renewed competency to show that he or she is “range competent” for all subsequent renewals. This bill would make it so that a licensed permit holder can simply show his’ or her’s existing or expiring license or the person’s original competency certificate as proof that the individual has had the necessary training for all renewals.

3) Changing the definition of a loaded firearm in a vehicle. Currently, a firearm is considered loaded if a loaded magazine is present in the vehicle, even if the magazine is not inserted into the firearm. This legal feature would change the definition so that the magazine must be inserted into the firearm before it is considered loaded.

4) Defining “Concealed Handgun License” in one section of the Ohio Revised Code and clarifies that the definition applies to all references to a concealed handgun license in the revised code. This will simplify the code and make it easier to read, understand, comply with, and enforce.

Jeffrey L. Frischkorn
Twiter: @Fieldkorn

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Geauga Park controlled deer hunts help manage herd size

Demonstrating that regulated deer hunting can have a long-term impact on a particular area’s herd, the Geauga Park District has assembled its statistics for its 2011-2012 controlled hunts.

This most recent series of controlled hunts - open to Geauga County residents only with a couple of notable exceptions - saw a total deer kill of 63 animals on 16 units open to archery, firearms, or both, hunting.

That number is a significant drop from the 150 animals reported shot during the high-water 2008-2009 deer-hunting season. And the 2011-2012 total figure also is just a few animals more than what were taken during the agency’s first series of hunts in 2007-2008. In that year 57 animals were killed but only on seven sites.

The greatest number of deer killed last year was at the Rookery, located in Munson Township. Here, 14 deer were shot last season, a drop from the 27 animals taken there during the prior season of 2010-2011.

Likewise, the number of deer killed at the agency’s Observatory Park in Montville Township has continued to decline since the program first began.

Last year, hunters shot 12 animals at Observatory Park. The season before that figure was 16 deer and for the 2009-2010 deer-hunting season, the total number of deer killed at Observatory park was 39 animals.

Intensive studies done by Geauga Park District’s operations manager John Oros indicates the level of available animals both prior to and after the hunts at various parks.

For example, at the Rookery the pre-harvest 2011-2012 deer population was an estimated 31 animals. Contrast that to the park’s 2008-2009 pre-harvest figure of 100 animals.

A significant decline in the pre-harvest deer population was noted as well for Observatory Park between the 2010-2011 deer-hunting season and the 2011-2012 deer-hunting season: Down from 36 animals to 27 animals.

Oros further extrapolates that anticipated post-reproduction (August) populations of these units will show declines from the preceding pre-harvest populations. This analysis indicates that the controlled hunts are accomplishing the agency’s long-term objective of helping maintain more stable deer populations on a park-by-park basis.

Besides the archery tackle-only controlled hunts the park district also conducted regulated firearms hunts but only on three units, including the Rookery, Observatory Park, and the West Woods in Russell Township.

In every case since the program began more deer are killed annually by archery hunters than by firearms hunters.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn
Twitter: @Fieldkorn

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Brown County Five's court appearance doesn't impress prosecutor

A procedural issue settled Monday has further set the stage for a legal - and potentially lengthy - showdown between five current and former Ohio Division of Wildlife officials and the Brown County prosecutor.

The so-called “Brown County Five” defendants appeared Monday before Common Pleas Court Judge Scott Gusweiler

So did an assistant prosecutor for Jessica A. Little, the Brown County prosecutor who called Monday’s conference “a big nothing.”

Appearing in person Monday along with their attorneys were the Wildlife Division’s Human Resource Manager Michele Ward-Tackett, the agency’s District Five (southwest Ohio) Manager Todd Haines, now-retired former Wildlife Division chief David Graham, now-retired former Wildlife Division assistant chief Randy Miller, and now-retired agency former Law Enforcement Executive Administrator Jim Lehman.

Each defendant was indicted nearly two years ago on April 2, 2010 on single counts of obstruction of justice and complicity to obstructing justice.

The five defendants lost a legal round earlier this year before Ohio’s 12th District Court of Appeals. That court ruled in favor of Little.

It was Little who argued that the five are not protected by the so-called “Garrity Rule.” This legal fiat protects certain government employees from testifying on matters if they believe that by doing would jeopardize their jobs.

However, the defendants have filed the required paperwork appealing the Appellate Court’s decision before the Ohio Supreme Court.

But in order to do that the five defendants first had to express personally to Gusweiler that they understood that by taking their case before the state’s highest court they also were agreeing to forsake their right to a speedy trial.

Little said today that Monday’s hearing will only drag out the case for possibly as much as another year.
Maybe longer.

“This (case) will probably be continued into perpetuity until the State Supreme Court rules,” Little said. “I’m very disappointed, though it is a big issue.”

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn
Twitter: @Fieldkorn

Warm weather reels in huge fishing license sales

Resident fishing license sales have risen with the warm weather.

Make that sizzling.

“As soon as the weather went warm so did the fishing license sales,” says Vicki Mountz, the Ohio Division of Wildlife’s executive administrator.

The Ohio Division of Wildlife is reporting that 27,091 resident fishing licenses were sold last year by March 12 but by yesterday - Monday - that figure was 51,824 resident fishing licenses were sold - a 91.3 percent increase.

Non-resident fishing licenses also are way up. In 2011 by this time the state had sold 1,032 non-resident fishing documents but by Monday that figure was 2,023 non-resident licenses.

“We always know that if we get poor weather early on that fishing licence sales are poor, like they were last year this time,” said Mountz. “Now it is just the opposite.”

“The thing is if people have not bought their fishing licenses by the early July the chances are they won’t,” Mountz said also.

Though a much smaller number of resident hunting licenses are typically sold by this time of year, even the sale of these documents are going fast: By an 18.15 percent increase, Mountz says.

Last year the state had sold 6,574 resident hunting licenses as of March 12. This year by yesterday the state had issued 7,067 resident hunting licenses.

Even the sale of deer tags are up - and Ohio is a long, long way from any deer hunting season.
“We believe that this is also all weather-related,” Mountz said.

Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Twitter: @Fieldkorn

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Details about firearm purportedly used in Chardon High School shooting

The purported firearm used by J.T. Lane, the alleged Chardon High School shooter, is one of the world’s most iconic and recognized .22-caliber rimfire handguns.

It is said that Lane was in illegal possession of a Ruger Model Mark III .22-caliber pistol when he allegedly went on a shooting spree Feb. 27 that killed three Chardon High School students and wounded two others.

This firearm has been continuously made in one invocation or another by the Sturm, Ruger Company since 1949. Its current form is the Mark III model, available in four versions ranging in suggested retail price between $379 to $659.

Though Ruger - now located in Prescott, Arizona - makes a couple of other .22-caliber models the Mark III clearly is the flagship of the line.

Statistics provided by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives say that in 2010 - the last year for which such statistics are yet available - Ruger made 94,777 .22-caliber pistols, the bulk of those being the Mark III in its several variations.

To illustrate just how popular is this firearm the ATF’s statistics note as well that in the United State during 2010 there were 374,505 .22-caliber semi-automatic pistols manufactured. Thus, the Mark III accounted for about one-quarter of all .22-caliber semi-automatic pistols made in the U.S. during 2010.

When renowned firearms designer Bill Ruger created the pistol that eventually evolved into the Mark III he used a World War II Japanese Nambu centerfire handgun for part of the gun’s shape and action.

Ever since then the model has become hugely popular as a “plinking” small-bore pistol, accredited target pistol, and versions often used by small-game hunters and trappers.

In general the firearm weighs between 35 and 41 ounces, again, depending upon model version that can be made from either blued steel or stainless steel.

All versions employ a 10-round magazine. Another cartridge can be accommodated in the firearm’s chamber.

Even so, the .22-caliber round cannot be dismissed entirely as an under-achiever. It can be lethal when fired at close range.

By way of history the .22-caliber rimfire is the world’s oldest continually made cartridge and also is its most popular. As many as 2.5 billion .22-cailber cartridges are said to be made annually worldwide.

The round began its storied life in 1857 as a smaller cartridge that eventually grew into today’s familiar .22-caliber long rifle cartridge.

Its payload ranges roughly from a 35-grain to a 40-grain bullet, typically made of lead but non-lead bullets are now also being manufactured.

These bullets generally travel at speeds of around 1,100 feet per second to about 1,300 feet per second, depending upon type and amount of powder being used as the cartridge’s fuel source.

Muzzle energy - the so-called “power” of the round - is almost always less than  200 foot pounds.

By comparison, the 9mm center-fire caliber that is widely in use today by law enforcement and the military has muzzle velocities of between 950 feet per second and 1,400 feet per second for upgraded, so-called, “P” versions.

Importantly, the 9mm’s power runs between 295 foot pounds and 500 foot pounds, depending once more on the particular cartridge version.

And the 9mm cartridge boasts a much heavier bullet as well: At least twice as weighty as the heaviest 22.-caliber bullet, and typically much more.

Thus while the .22-caliber cartridge is pretty much universally considered an inferior one for personal or home protection, it has some connections as a weapon. It is believed by IHS Jane’s that both the cartridge and Mark III pistol are used by Navy SEALs in covert operations.

The round likewise has been used in one noteworthy assassination and one assassination attempt.
On June 5, 1968 now-convicted murder Sirhan Sirhan used a .22-caliber revolver to kill then-New York Senator and Democratic presidential candidate Robert Kennedy.

And on March 30, 1981 John Hinkley Jr. used a .22-caliber semi-automatic pistol in his attempt to kill newly installed president Ronald Reagan, who was wounded in the attack.

Jeffrey L. FRischkorn
Twiter: @Fieldkorn

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Wildlife Division flexes it muscles on research stations' move

A very long time ago when Ohio was covered by a shallow sea and now-extinct fishes swam there I was employed as a machine designer.

Back then those of us who were in the engineering trenches had an axiom for work orders that came from above and which made no sense. It went: “Enough research tends to support one’s conclusions.”

The meaning of which, of course, is that bosses all too frequently come up with  projects they first conceive of and only then seek the data needed to bolster their predetermined denouements. Sort of what you see in a daily Dilbert comic strip and its Pointy-Haired Boss.

It’s not really much different today with the Ohio Department of Natural Resources’ Division of Wildlife.

The agency is presently hammering a round peg into the square hole by expending energy, sportsmen’s dollars and employee time in carrying out a plan to consolidate the agency’s three wildlife research stations into a single one-size-fits-all home.

These stations include the Waterloo unit in Athens and which is devoted to deer, turkeys, forest game like squirrels and fur-bearers; the Crane Creek unit near Port Clinton and which is focused on waterfowl; and another unit located somewhere near a corn field north of Columbus and dedicated to small-game species like rabbits and pheasant.

This now-in-progress consolidation is something of a headwater rivulet for the much larger watershed now being drained by the Kasich Administration. Kasich and his staff are currently working to dismantle the Natural Resources Department and thereby make it a bond servant to the Ohio Department of Agriculture.

The spear point behind the research units’ forced coalesce is Dave Scott, the Wildlife Division’s wildlife administer whose flag is cemented at the agency’s Columbus headquarters.

Scott has at least 11 years under his Wildlife Division belt, first as a wildlife scientist and of late as the agency’s chief wildlife administrator.

He claims that the decision to merge the three units “didn’t come out of left field.”

Perhaps not but this decision does dribble through the infield like some bad bunt.

For his part Scott argues that by synthesizing the three now separated and diverse units into one chamber the agency - and sportsmen - would be better served.

Among Scott’s talking points (with my counter thoughts) are: Reduced overhead costs with just one facility (maybe but we don’t know until and unless there is an actual fiscal study that says so); fewer supervisors (why, are the ones now doing a poor job or are the worker bees goofing off?); smaller clerical staff (yeah, probably); bring the employees’ skills together with a team approach to solving problems (What, doesn’t anyone know about faxes let alone the telephone much less emails, Facebook, Twitter, Webiners and Skype?), opportunity to enhance their own professional opportunities and develop a career ladder (Are the out-lying units so detached that their staffs don’t know when a job at the Columbus headquarters comes open?)

To argue that while the research units current locations may have made sense in the 1950s they don’t now is another invalidated Wildlife Division tenant.

For example, the Wildlife Division contends that waterfowl management activities today includes work performed elsewhere in the state besides just those involving the swamps of northwest Ohio.

However, my 2011-2012 Ohio waterfowling hunting regulation pamphlet indicates that the marsh area of western Ohio has enough ducks nesting there and migrating through that it can use its own season. Can’t say that for the any other regional enclave. Ducks in huge numbers love the Lake Erie marshes more than anywhere else in state. Always has and always will.

I also hate to break the news to the agency’s Columbus-based bureaucrats but the last time I checked a whole lot more deer were still being killed in Coshocton County than in Champaign County.

And unless someone switched these counties around my DeLorme map book continues to show Coshocton is in southeast Ohio and Champaign hasn’t moved out of northwest Ohio.

So, yes, while we have more deer than ever before throughout the state the species’ ground-zero remains a noteworthy fixture of southeast Ohio. Always has and always will. That is why it is logical to keep the Waterloo unit glued to Athens.

Then there is the matter of money. To lease a building from the U.S. Forest Service near Delaware Reservoir the Wildlife Division may have to pay a few thousand dollars a month for an indeterminate length of time

And when the agency finally does get around to finding property, have a new building designed, get approval from the state and actually construct an edifice the Wildlife Division could spend between $1 million and $1.5 million of sportsmen’s dollars, Scott says.

That could be a conservative estimate, of course.

The Wildlife Division through Scott is equally quick to say it believes such an expenditure would save money in the long run. Perhaps, but without any studies being done to compare relocation and building costs verses the rehabilitation of existing structures there simply is no way to confirm as certain the agency's theory.

Fact is too this matter really has never been properly vetted before sportsmen in any true public setting. Which, again, is typical of an agency that too often remains a prisoner of the good-old-boys mentality. It shouldn’t, of course, since it is the state’s hunters, trappers and anglers who’ll ultimately pay the bills.

Maybe more than anything else, however, it comes down to a matter of centralization; long an artifact of government. All government.

Still, direct hands-on control is not in and of itself always either the most cost-effective way of doing business or the most efficient mechanism of resource utilization.

I mean, after all, I haven’t heard that Wildlife Division assistant chief David Lane is having difficulties administrating the agency’s five far-flung district outposts from his Columbus office. Do we need to send these district headquarters hurtling closer to the agency’s event horizon as well?

Lastly there is the question of employees being uprooted from their established homes and taking a Trail of Tears - if you will - to the blessed wonders and awe of central Ohio.

On this score the Wildlife Division says it has pow-wowed with the possible impacted employees. The agency has said these researchers can A) make the move, B) Accept a transfer into another position at a district office if such a job opens up, or C) There’s always the door, just don’t let it hit you on the way out.

Another employee relationship point that Scott makes is that in some cases the spouses of the researchers may actually make more money than does the agency scientist. I’m really not sure what that means except perhaps the Wildlife Division believes that if a male employee who can’t make the switch might be better off becoming a stay-at-home dad.

Scott says in conclusion that since the current model of stand-alone research stations goes back to the 1950s it just doesn’t work on all cylinders anymore.

But maybe - just maybe - that’s because the Wildlife Division no longer wants it to work. After all, enough research does tend to support one’s conclusions.

Jeffrey L. Frischkorn
Twitter: @Fieldkorn

Friday, March 2, 2012

Earliest-ever evidence of Ice Age game killed in Ohio

With no hunting license needed nor computer game check-in required, paleo-Indians still left the earliest-ever piece of evidence of Ice Age game killed in Ohio.

The Cleveland Museum of Natural History is reporting that cut marks found on Ice Age Jefferson ground sloth bones indicate that humans in Ohio hunted or scavenged animal meat earlier than previously known.

Brian Redmond, curator of archaeology at The Cleveland Museum of Natural History, was lead author on research published in the Feb. 22 online issue of the journal “World Archaeology.”

In their research the scientists analyzed 10 animal bones rediscovered in 1998 in the collections of the Firelands Historical Society Museum in Norwalk; a small, historical museum which has few natural history items.

Thus the bones were largely forgotten and placed in storage for more than 80 years.

Refound by society member and the report’s coauthor Matthew Burr, the bones were determined as coming from a Jefferson’s ground sloth. This large plant-eating animal became extinct at the end of the Ice Age around 10,000 years ago.

Based on measurements of the femur, tibia and other bones, the so-called “Firelands Ground Sloth” is one of the largest individuals of this species on record. It had an estimated body mass of 2,855 pounds and is one of only three specimens of Megalonyx jeffersonii known from Ohio.

During its heyday this species of now-extinct sloth was found from Florida to Alaska and is considered an Ice Age “megafauna.” It was a contemporary with the mastodon and giant beaver.

Redmond said also that the job of studying the bones and determining the creation of the cut marks was “quite a piece of detective work.”

“This research provides the first scientific evidence for hunting or scavenging of Ice Age sloth in North America,” said Redmond. “The significant age of the remains makes them the oldest evidence of prehistoric human activity in Ohio, occurring in the Late Pleistocene period.”

Specifically, a series of 41 incisions appear on the animal’s left femur. Radiocarbon dating of the femur bone estimates its age to be between 13,435 to 13,738 years old, give or take a decade or two.

And microscopic analyses of the cut marks revealed that stone tools made the marks, Redmond says.

Redmond says also that the pattern and location of the distinct incisions indicate “the filleting of leg muscles.”

“No traces of the use of modern, metal cutting tools were found, so the marks are not the result of damage incurred during their unearthing. Instead, the morphology of the marks reveals that they were made by sharp-edged stone flakes or blades,” said Redmond.

Probably the second oldest evidence of humans butchering animals in Ohio is the "Burning Tree Mastodon" in Newark, Redmond said as well.

“It was radiocarbon-dated at 13,000 years ago,” he said.

The Firelands sloth bones were first described in a 1915 scientific paper by geologist Oliver Hay. The collection was made known to Hay by Roe Niver, a University of Illinois student who lived in Huron County and died in July 1915, the History Museum says.

Museum scientists say also that the bones were donated to the Firelands Museum before 1915. The only documentation with the remains indicates they were found in a swamp in Norwich Township with the exact locality where the bones were first discovered is uncertain.

For more information about the Jefferson ground sloth - including how it got its name - visit: and also

Jeffrey L. Frischkorn
Twitter: @Fieldkorn

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Inspector General finds wrong-doing by another ODW officer

Another Ohio Division of Wildlife officer was investigated last year by the Ohio Inspector General, this time for the alleged confiscation and destruction of “...deer antlers unlawfully (taken) from an individual who had legally obtained them.”

The matter is referred to in the just-released Ohio Inspector General’s 2011 Annual Report.

In the summary of its Wildlife Division investigation, the Ohio Inspector General says that on Nov. 24, 2009, Guernsey County resident Jeffrey Schultice was archery hunting on his property when he encountered the remains of a badly decomposed 11-point.

Leaving the carcass where it lay, the report says, Schultice made telephone calls to Wildlife Division officers Brad St. Clair and Roby Williams, neither of whom returned his calls.

Only after Schultice contacted the agency’s Southeast Ohio District Office, complaining that he had not been contacted did St. Clair respond, the Ohio Inspector General’s report says.

At that point St. Clair contacted Schultice who was informed that issuing a receipt for the deer antlers was a low priority and that it could take weeks to process.

Schultice then called the Guernsey County Sheriff’s office which ultimately issued a Wildlife Division deer carcass receipt, the Inspector General’s investigative report says.

Two days later, the report also says, St. Clair told Schultice that he wanted to see the antlers. Upon visiting Schultice at his home, the investigative report says, St. Clair expressed his doubts as to how the antler set was obtained.

St Clair then proceeded to confiscate the set of antlers.

The Ohio Inspector General’s report further goes on to say that the Ohio Department of Natural Resources “...had no record of the antlers being logged in as evidence or recovered property, and there was no official record of destruction or disposition of the antlers, as required by department policy.”

Even so, says the report, a hand receipt indicated that the antlers were destroyed on Dec. 23, 2009.

“Additionally, the 2009 property seized/forfeited form by Officer St. Clair did not list the antlers he (had) seized from Schultice.”

“Our investigation found that the Ohio Division of Wildlife Officer Brad St. Clair, without cause, improperly confiscated and disposed of legally obtained property and failed to record the seizure and destruction of property on the annual report as required by department policy...”

The final notation in the Ohio Inspector General’s 2011 Annual Report indicated that Schultice filed a complaint with the Court of Claims of Ohio for the antlers.

He ultimately accepted a $5,000 settlement agreement with the Natural Resources Department, the report says in conclusion.

Wildlife Division chief Scott Zody also indicated in an email sent to him that St. Clair “received a written reprimand.”

“A verbal or written reprimand remains ‘on record’ for one year...Officer St. Clair was disciplined last year, so it would still be active,” Zody said as well.

Jeffrey L. Frischkorn
Twitter: @Fieldkorn