Friday, June 29, 2012

Rep. LaTourette "no" and "yes" votes on Holder contempt charges confuses gun owners

U.S. Rep. Steven C. LaTourette, R-Bainbridge Township, on Thursday voted "no" before voting "yes" to bring contempt charges against U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder.

Thing is, says LaTourette, on Thursday the U.S. House of Representatives conducted two votes - not one - related to Holder, the controversial Obama Administration’s top cop.

And that distinction makes a big difference when it comes his accountability regarding Holder’s refusal to cooperate with Congress regarding the botched Fast and Furious project, the nine-term congressman says.

Still, at possible risk is the generally reliable gun-owner backing for LaTourette who - at least up until now - possessed a lifetime “A” rating from the National Rifle Association.

Holder has long been a lightening rod, his Congressional detractors charging that the Attorney General has failed to deliver all of the electronic and other document goodies the House says it needs to determine who knew what and when as it involves the so-called “Fast and Furious” debacle.

This project was the Obama Administration’s effort to allow perhaps thousands of firearms to “walk” into Mexico.

The government had also instructed U.S. firearms dealers to illegally sell these weapons to known criminals whereupon the firearms would ultimately fall into the hands of Mexico’s dreaded drug cartels.

All of which came to a head after U.S. Border Patrol agent Brian Terry was killed in December 2010 in a shoot-out with Mexican drug cartel members. Two guns linked to Fast and Furious were found at the scene.

In turn, the entire Fast and Furious episode set off an international fire storm.

Likewise, the operation ignited charges from pro-Second Amendment advocates that the Obama Administration was attempting to use the issue to further its gun-control agenda, offering as evidence documents where government officials said as much.

But on June 20, Obama invoked Executive Privilege and thus refused to release any more documents. That action helped set the stage for the Holder-Congressional showdown on Thursday.

And LaTourette was in the thick of things. He was one of only two Republican House members to vote “no” on the assembly’s criminal contempt petition. The only other GOP House member to join LaTourette was Rep. Scott Rigell of Virginia.

By contrast, 17 Democrats voted with Republicans in the 255-to-67 vote against Holder. Meanwhile, 100 Democratic representatives staged a walk-out during the vote.

“There is understandably some concern over the series of votes on whether Attorney General Eric Holder should be held in contempt for his failure to provide ALL documents relating to Fast and Furious,” LaTourette told The News-Herald in an expansion of his House votes on Thursday.

“I say series of votes because some folks posted comments after the first vote, perhaps unaware that there were two votes.”

The first vote was to hold the Attorney General in criminal contempt.

However, the second vote was whether to find Holder in contempt of Congress, and also to authorize the House to seek a judicial order of contempt unless the Attorney General handed over the requested documents, LaTourette says.

“I voted ‘no’ on the first and ‘yes’ on the second. To be clear, I absolutely believe that Attorney General Holder has no justification for withholding properly subpoenaed documents,” LaTourette said. “How to get him to comply is another matter.”

By voting to ask a court to order the documents released, “Congress can achieve its goal of getting to the bottom of Fast and Furious without turning Holder into a martyr for the Left,” LaTourette said.

“There will be plenty of time to prosecute, remove from office or force the (Attorney General) to resign if the facts indicate it is appropriate. My vote of ‘yes’ on the second resolution will ensure that occurs,” he said.

LaTourette also says that by striking a trail along the criminal contempt route it “will simply, in my opinion, allow the Left to repeat their mantra that ‘there go those wacky Republicans again.’”

“Washington has enough political theater and I would rather have a judge compel the Attorney General to hand over the documents and take whatever action those documents indicate is appropriate,” LaTourette said.

Even so, not all firearms owners are comfortable, let alone, happy, with LaTourette’s seeimgly yin and yang Holder-associated votes.

Buckeye Firearms Association chairman Jim Irvine says he “respectively disagrees with the Congressman.”

“Holder is this country’s supreme law enforcement officer, and a criminal,” Irvine said. “We can’t wait; not with this Attorney General.”

Irvine says that Holder is in this particular legal pickle because of his relationship to “the cover-up” that has both riveted and also has been a distraction inside Washington’s Beltway and outside.

“This is an incredibly serious issue and it must be looked at that way,” Irvine said.

As to any possible fall-out from his pro-Second Amendment constituents, LaTourette may very well have to cross that bridge if not sooner than certainly later when he comes up for reelection on Nov. 6, Irvine says.

“Yes, I think the Congressman’s vote will have an impact but it’s too early to tell by how much,” Irvine said.

Bud Conley, a Leroy Township pro-Second Amendment advocate, says that LaTourette fell out of the Republican mainstream with his vote.

Still, says Conley, perhaps LaTourette was “talking like the former county prosecutor he was.”

Maybe he’s looking at all of the facts, but the bottom line is that Holder is stone-walling and playing games with Congress,” Conley said.

“But I’d still like to see a better, more complete explanation from him; does the evidence suggest criminal contempt or is LaTourette more concerned about making Holder a martyr?”

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn
Twitter: @Fieldkorn

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Allan Wright to face determined Justice Department at July 17 sentencing

When former Ohio Division of Wildlife officer Allan Wright is sentenced July 17 in federal court he will face a tough, no-nonsense foe in the form of the U.S. Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division.

Wright, 45, and of Russellville, pleaded guilty June 18 in federal court in Cincinnati to violating the Lacey Act “by trafficking in and making false records for illegally harvested white-tailed deer,” the U.S. Justice Department says.

The Justice Department says that Wright pleaded guilty to a total of four Lacey Act crimes based on his conduct between 2006 and 2010.

Upon sentencing, Wright faces up to one year in federal prison, a fine of up to $1,000 per count, or both.

And the Justice Department will be asking that Federal Court Judge Michael R. Barrett not to spare the rod.

Federal prosecutors are requesting that Judge Barrett sentence Wright to three months in jail, a year of supervised release, and a $1,000 fine. Along with various other related conditions.

Meanwhile, Wright's attorney, Louis Sirkin, is requesting sentencing tolerance for Wright. The defense's request is for probation and a small fine, wire reports say.

And while U.S. Justice Department trial lawyer James B. Nelson of the agency’s Environmental Crimes Section did the actual yeoman’s work on Wright’s case it his boss that has set the get-tough, pro-environmental law tone for the Environment and Natural Resource Division.

That unit is headed by Columbia-born, New York-raised , Ignacia S. Moreno.

Moreno was appointed to her position by President Barrack Obama on June 8, 2009. She was confirmed by a bipartisan, unanimous 93-0 U.S. Senate vote on Nov. 5, 2009.

When installing Moreno, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said on March 5, 2010 that his new environmental law enforcement spear point  “... has the experience and broad perspective necessary to lead this work. She shares this Administration ’s strong commitment to environmental justice.

“And she was instrumental in developing and implementing the Department’s strategy to fulfill President Clinton’s Executive Order on Environmental Justice. In doing so, I assure you she did more than sit behind a desk drafting policy statements.”

Nor has she in the case of Allan Wright, either.

In an electronic filing before the federal court in Cincinnati, Moreno entered a sentencing statement that has strong and harsh words regarding Wright’s behavior as a state wildlife officer.

Moreno’s official opening Argument/Offense comment reads:

“This case involves a pattern of criminal conduct undertaken by Defendant Allan Wright while he was employed as a uniformed peace officer. The evidence shows that, while he was on duty and acting as a Wildlife Officer for the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, Division of Wildlife (“ODNR, DOW”), Defendant repeatedly violated the same wildlife laws that he was charged with enforcing.

“In so doing, Defendant not only violated the law but also the public trust that was bestowed upon him by the people of the State of Ohio.

“Though the Sentencing Guidelines Offense Level in this case is comparatively low, the Government respectfully submits that a weighty sentence is appropriate in this case.”

Also in her lengthy sentencing petition to Judge Barrett, Moreno requests that:

“Based on the facts adduced in the Government’s Trial Brief and the PSR, and the arguments set forth herein, the Government respectfully recommends that the Court impose the following sentence:

“1. Three months’ imprisonment.

“2. One year of supervised release, with the following mandatory conditions, in addition to the Court’s standard conditions.

“a. Defendant shall not be employed by any law enforcement agency, in any capacity.

“b. Defendant shall not possess a firearm.

“c. Defendant shall not hunt, or accompany anyone hunting, anywhere in the world.

“d. Defendant shall pay a $1,000 fine. The Government requests that Defendant’s fine be directed to Ohio’s Turn In a Poacher (‘TIP’) program which provides rewards to persons who report wildlife crimes to law enforcement.”

Moreno says in her petition as well that while Wright admitted responsibility “...such acceptance was a long time coming” and that Wright “...and persons acting on Defendant’s behalf, spent a significant amount of time and effort trying to thwart the original investigation in 2007. Indeed, after learning of the instant investigation in 2011, Defendant made an additional effort to derail the investigation into his crimes.”

In concluding her petition before Judge Barrett, Moreno says: “Defendant swore an oath to enforce the wildlife laws of the State of Ohio, and was charged with investigating allegations of wildlife crime and referring violators for prosecution.

“Defendant patrolled Brown County, Ohio, for years allegedly doing just that. And yet, while doing so, he was himself committing wildlife crime. Such a blatant disregard of the public trust cannot be explained away as a ‘lapse in judgment,’ and it cannot be excused simply because the uncovering of Defendant’s crimes caused him stress and anxiety.

"If law enforcement officers cannot be entrusted to obey the law, then ordinary citizens cannot possibly be expected to obey the law. Moreover, if we are unwilling to hold law enforcement officers strictly liable for their crimes, then we forfeit the moral authority to punish ordinary citizens. Such a result could not possibly qualify as Justice.”

None of which should comes as a surprise, given Moreno’s tenacity for environmental justice.

Since hitting the ground as head of the Justice Department’s environmental and natural resources law unit, Moreno has taken her job seriously. That task includes overseeing a wide range of federal statutes regarding the arena of specialized law.

She likewise has reached into the pro-environmental community, “academia, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and the private sector” to pluck persons for her “...seasoned and highly-regarded management team.”

In presenting her marching orders Jan. 13, 2011 to the Justice Department’s environment and natural resources troops, Moreno struck a hard-line stances against polluters, the Deepwater Horizon affair, hazardous waste cleanup, as well as “criminal enforcement.”

“Lacey Act enforcement is another priority area,” Moreno said in other 2011 prepared remarks regarding her division’s criminal law enforcement duties.

“The Lacey Act makes it unlawful to send or receive in interstate or foreign commerce fish, wildlife, or plants taken in violation of federal, state, or foreign law. The Division handles an active docket of Lacey Act cases in which we prosecute individuals and corporations who trade in illegally taken fish, wildlife, and plants.”

That it has, too, as Moreno stated in Earth Day 2011 remarks that her unit successfully prosecuted 50 criminal cases against 79 defendants, resulting in $104 million in fines.

“A core mission of the division is the strong enforcement of civil and criminal environmental laws to protect our nation’s air, water and natural resources,” Moreno said.

Come July 17 Judge Barrett will rule whether to grant Wright’s plea for leniency or Moreno’s call for environmental law justice.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn
Twitter: @Fieldkorn

First Mentor Library/Gander Mountain seminar a big hit

Mentor Public Library and Gander Mountain's Mentor have joined forces  to bring a new summer seminar series for hunting and fishing enthusiasts.

The first of these free seminars was held  June 21 and considered a "hit" by library officials.

This session drew a crowd of 17 people who soaked up instruction regarding Lake Erie-Walleye fishing program.   

Gander Mountain Mentor Store Operations Manager Matt Buck and Mitch Leppelmeier - the store’s fishing zone supervisor - put their years of experience in tournament and pleasure walleye fishing to work. 

They  presented several approaches to walleye fishing, trolling techniques and lure selection to the participants. An assortment of equipment for hands-on demonstrations and a question-and-answer session was provided as well, said Barbara Vendeville, Mentor Public Library Community Outreach Coordinator.

The next "Gander Mountain at the Library" seminar will feature Fly/Bow Fishing. It is scheduled for 6:30 p.m.,  July 19 at 6:30 p.m.,  in the Main Library James R. Garfield Room. The library is located at 8215 Mentor Ave., Mentor.

Gander Mountain staff will present a seminar on fly fishing and bow fishing.  Participants will learn how to fly fish, tie a lure, archery how-tos and equipment suggestions.

Another up-coming seminar is Urban Der Hunting, set for Aug. 16. It will feature a presentation on archery setups and tips on urban deer hunting.

The last seminar in the series if Waterfowl Hunting, set for Sept. 20. 

Registration for all of the remaining free seminars is required.  Registration begins July 5. for the Fly/Bow Fishing session, Aug. 2 for the Urban Deer session, and Sept. 6 for the Waterfowl Hunting session.

For more information on the Gander Mountain seminar series call the Mentor Public Library at 440-255-8811, ext. 215 or visit the Mentor Public Library website at

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn
Twitter: @Fieldkorn

Monday, June 25, 2012

"Uncle" Homer Circle dead at 97

This is a forwarded, reposted item from well-known outdoors writer Frank Sargent of Florida about the passing of angling and outdoor writer legend "Uncle Homer Circle." Having rubbed elbows with Homer over the years I can say without a hint of being wrong that he was a thoroughly wonderful man, a gentleman in every sense of the word and a fishing writer who saw today's world of professional bass angling and other fishing systems from the ground floor.
I would like to believe that in Heaven when the Lord passes out work assignments that He'll put Uncle Homer in charge of the River of Life's fisheries.
Iconic outdoors figure dead at 97.
By Frank Sargeant
Nobody lives forever, although at times it seemed like Homer Circle of Ocala might. But “Uncle Homer”, like the rest of us, proved himself mortal this week; he passed away at 97.
Circle was one of the most famous writers on bass fishing ever, a national TV personality, a former president of the Outdoor Writers of America—and a guy who always gave more than he got.
In my closet I have a pair of 30-year old L.L. Bean boots, the soles cracked, the uppers turning to powder, that Homer gave me after a fishing trip to Rainbow Springs, near Dunnellon, FL, in about 1980 when he was still a kid of 70 or so. I wore them out in about five years, then kept them because Homer had given them to me.
Homer was a great teacher, and he left behind a million tips and how-to’s that will mark his place in fishing lore for many generations.
On that Rainbow Springs trip, though, Homer taught me one thing he didn’t intend to.
It was a chilly winter day, and Homer showed me how to make a handwarmer for the boat; you put a roll of toilet paper inside a steel coffee can, pour in some rubbing alcohol and light it up. The paper acts as a wick, and the warmer burns for a long time. When you’re done with the warmer, put the lid back on the can and the fire goes out—great tip.
However, on this particular day, Homer apparently did not get the lid solidly on the can. I helped him load his boat on the trailer and then followed him back toward his home, on five acres of woods outside Ocala. After a few miles, I noticed smoke was pouring from the back of his boat. I managed to flag him down and we checked the rig.
The warmer, flagged back to life by the moving air, had flamed up and caught a seat cushion on fire. Homer, never at a loss, reached in the ice box and grabbed a couple of soft drinks, shook them up and squirted the contents on the fire, which promptly went out. He had an answer for everything.
He was author of a half-dozen best-selling books on bass fishing, long-time bass editor of Sports Afield Magazine and later of Bassmaster, host of Sports Afield Television and several other national shows, and author of thousands of magazine articles.
But more than that, he was one of those rare guys who go through life looking not to help themselves but to help everybody he met.
Homer was originally from the Midwest, and fishing the lakes of Minnesota and Wisconsin he had hundreds of buddies who were of Swedish extraction—so naturally Homer knew every Swedish joke ever told in a boat or an ice-fishing shack. He often began a phone call, not by introducing himself—because anybody who had ever watched fishing TV immediately knew his voice—but by starting one of these jokes. Some of them were mildly ribald, but I never heard the man utter a curse or make an off-color remark.
The Professional Outdoor Media Association named their highest honor after Homer, the Homer Circle Fishing Communicator’s Award. I was fortunate enough to win the award last year, perhaps a mark of longevity if not of talent.
Homer is gone, but his legacy will live on through many generations of anglers.
Circle's granddaughter, Beth Constantino, asks that as a way of remembering him, fans send notes about the way he touched their lives to: "Uncle Homer," Bassmaster Magazine, 3500 Blue Lake Dr., Suite 330, Birmingham, Alabama 35243 or email them to . Letters and emails will be collected and forwarded to family member.s.
- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn
Twiter: @Fieldkorn

Saturday, June 23, 2012

What's in a name? The farm pond knows

So-So Bay lived up to its name.

Then so did Goose Blind Alley, The Pavilion, The Crappie Log and The Beaver Lodge.

After more than 20 years of being blessed to have the opportunity to fish a local small lake/large pond I’ve taken the approach to self-name various angling points-of-interest.

And during this time I’ve come to understand which of them are hot, hotter-still and smoking based upon time of year and water conditions.

Thus, So-So Bay typically offers a shrug in the pond’s angling opportunities. That’s surprising since the tiny inlet would appear on the surface to be an exceptional fishing hole. All of the dynamic features are there but usually not the fish.

Not this day anyway when Steve Pollick, the recently retired Toledo Blade outdoors writer, hooked up with me for a morning of farm pond fishing.

Cousin Steve is something of a shirt-tailed relation, too. His late widowed uncle married my late widowed aunt. When they were both very much alive, of course.

Given that the day was forecasted to strike the 90-degree mark by early afternoon, Cousin Steve and I figured we’d be off the water by around 12 p.m.. So-So Bay was one of the last stops on the circuit of the pond.

“Guess you’re right,” Cousin Steve said. “The fishing here is just ‘so-so.’”

Cousin Steve and I had tossed out the best of baits; he using a Charlie Brewer Slider jig and worm.

As for me I employed  a duel drop-shot rig consisting of a 1/16-ounce jig fitted with a 4-inch Berkley PowerBait’s  Ringworm model in green/sunfish color on the bottom of the leader and a number 6 stand-up hook equipped with a  1/2-inch Charlie Brewer Slider Crappie Grub paddle-tail plastic worm in chicken/pink and lime-green color. Weird shade, I know, but it works.

Normally a siren combination that bass and palm-sized bluegills simply cannot resist the two-for-one drop-shot duet could not even croak out a simple “come hither” number to whatever fish were hanging out in So-So Bay.

Backtrack a bit and the story is different. The fish were by The Sump as they always are when the pond’s water level is at normal pool. Likewise you can anticipate that The Crappie Log would cough up some fish, maybe not always crappie but something to tug the line just the same.

“Wow, look at that perch, colored like you find them in Canada,” said Cousin Steve as he admired a foot-long yellow perch caught on the far side of The Crappie Log. “And it’s fat, too.”

My fish was equally impressive for its species. A yellow bullhead that fought like a largemouth bass and was the size of a respectable channel catfish had nailed my offering.

Recoiling the clock and distance a little further to the pond’s rear the fishing was even better. Bluegill after bluegill would pounce on our baits. These projectiles were propelled by long and limber rods. In my case that was a specialized fiberglass pole designed for Southern crappie/sunfish angling.

Cousin Steve had pressed a Cabela’s 8-weight fly rod into service by attaching a spinning reel in exchange for a fly reel..

“It’s so much more fun this way,” Cousin Steve said.

Let us now keep retracing our grand tour of the pond.

Maybe my favorite just-for-fun stretch is Goose Blind Alley. You can toss a drop-shot rig toward the bank this time of year and get a spawning bull bluegill’s dander up or you can chuck a buzzbait and awaken a bass.

Or, as it was in my case, I  flicked a Heddon Tiny Torpedo, bullfrog finish, of course, casting the lure up close and personal-like to the weed-choked bank.

Using a stop-go-chug technique to excite the lure my intent was to trick a bass into believing there was an easy meal of an injured and scared mouthful of frog.

Several times the Tiny Torpedo was so savagely struck by a bass that the lure’s two sets of treble hooks never had an opportunity to purchase a hold in the jaws of the fish. The lure was launched into the air with the unhooked bass being right behind.

Heddon did a great job decades ago creating the Torpedo class of topwaters and though many of the fish that took a shine to my model a few did hang on long enough to find themselves trapped by the lure’s chrome-plated steel hooks.

“I love fishing for bass with topwaters,” I said half-giggling with delight in using this well-worn and popular farm pond angling technique.

At the very beginning of our morning was the Pavilion as it sits as the terrestrial spear point of an underwater gravel bar. Hang a right and you’ll venture into a bay much larger than So-So Bay. A fickle place to fish the Pavilion section can prove hot or cold, bass or bluegill.

You never know until you try and try Cousin Steve and I did, tracing the bay’s outline in a 12-foot aluminum boat and powered by a variable speed electric motor. With me having been plagued the past seven months with severe joint swelling and pain it was thought that Cousin Steve would become the vessel’s pilot while I’d be its free-loading captain and commander.

Since this was where we started we did our best to keep our expectations at a minimum. That was a pretty good piece of judgment for while the Pavilion did cooperate it has proven more bountiful in the past. A few smallish bass were located and a small peck of respectable bluegills fell to the spell of our offerings both Steve and I have done better with this section of the farm pond.

Can’t say that about the very last place we were to fish for the day. That would be the pond’s far northwest corner, down along the dam and near its overflow.

“This is my father-in-law’s favorite spot,” I said in explanation.

Depositing an anchor to hold us in position against the freshening wind, I then instructed Cousin Steve to let his rig poke around close the edge of the dam.

Faster than you can say “Daddy’s Favorite Spot” and Cousin Steve’s bait was taken by a Fish Ohio-qualifying bluegill. Then another and another and so on and so on until Cousin Steve became all giddy from the non-stop hauling in of fish.

Finally, after more than 30 minutes of casting whatever lure we wanted and it not mattering a bit Cousin Steve and I were prepared to call it a day. His last fish dropped out of the race next to the boat and gave Cousin Steve the slip.

“Fair enough, that’s a good way to end,” Cousin Steve said.

Yes, it certainly was, no question about it, I seconded.

Once again the Pavilion, the Crappie Log, Goose Blind Alley, The Beaver Lodge all had proved their mettle.  Even So-So Bay kept its promise of so-so fishing.

But I couldn’t wait to use my cell phone and call my father-in-law in Florida that Daddy’s Favorite Spot was far an away the best of the lot.

He just laughed, knowing that the farm pond would have it no other way.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn
Twitter: @Fieldkorn

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Corrected Name Update: Fifth state wildlife officer letter supporting Wright comes to light

A fifth letter written by another Ohio Division of Wildlife officer has come to light that likewise supports defrocked former state wildlife officer Allan Wright.

And just as did the other four letters documented in a blog posting made here yesterday, this latest known missive also encourages Federal Court Judge Michael R. Barrett to show compassion when sentencing Wright on July 17 for violating a federal wildlife law.

Revealed as the latest known letter writer is Eric Lamb, state wildlife officer assigned to Brown County, replacing Wright.

In Monday’s blog it was revealed that Wildlife Division officers James Carnes, Chris Gilkey, Rick Rogers and Michael Ohlrich also sent letters on Wright’s behalf with Ohlrich using agency letterhead/stationary to make his pitch to the jurist.

All of the five known letters were sent over a seven-day period beginning Feb. 16 and each strongly requests leniency for Wright.

In February Wright agreed to plead guilty in federal court for violating the Lacey Act, specifically by trafficking in and making false records regarding an illegally harvested white-tailed deer. He originally faced felony charges but those were not included in the Feb. 24 decision.

Wright admitted that he used his authority as a wildlife officer to seize deer antlers from a hunter who had  illegally killed the buck in 2009, said the U.S. Department of Justice in February.

Rather than disposing of the antlers through court proceedings, as required by Ohio law, Wright “knowingly supplied them to another individual who transported them from Ohio to Michigan,” the Justice Department said in a press release.

While Lamb did not close his letter with a signature mention of his employment title he does include in the document’s body that he is a state wildlife officer.

“Your Honor I am a State Wildlife Officer that works for the Ohio Division of Wildlife and am writing this letter to you in regards to the relationship that I have with Allan Wright.,” Lamb’s letter begins.

And as is noted in the other letters to Judge Barrett, Lamb stresses that Wright is an up-standing family man who goes “...out of his way to accommodate other Officers allowing them to stay at his home and feeding them at his table with his family.”

Lamb then asks Judge Barrett to “...allow Allan and his family to try and to begin rebuilding their lives and let their losses they have endured serve as punishment enough.”

On Monday the parent Ohio Department of Natural Resources indicated that it has launched an examination into the officers sending letters to the federal courts, indicating whether any agency rules or policies may have been breached.

“We are reviewing the documents in conjunction with the department’s policy and will make a determination,” a Natural Resources Department spokeswoman replied to an inquiry and posted here Monday.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn
Twitter: @Fieldkorn

Monday, June 18, 2012

UPDATED: Officers' letters supporting Allan Wright under review

Even as former Ohio Wildlife Division officer Allan Wright saw his sentencing delayed today until July 17 violating the federal Lacey Act, he has received support from at least four of his former co-workers.

The four current wildlife officers sent letters to Federal Judge Michael R. Barrett, each official soliciting the jurist to display mercy in his sentencing of Wright.

In February Wright agreed to plead guilty in federal court  for violating the Lacey Act, specifically by trafficking in and making false records regarding an illegally harvested white-tailed deer. He originally faced felony charges but those were not included in the Feb. 24 decision.

Wright admitted that he used his authority as a wildlife officer to seize deer antlers from a hunter who had  illegally killed the buck in 2009, said the U.S. Department of Justice in February.

Rather than disposing of the antlers through court proceedings, as required by Ohio law, Wright "knowingly supplied them to another individual who transported them from Ohio to Michigan," the Justice Department said in a press release.

In their letters supporting Wright, and which are now part of the public record, three of the individuals indicated their current status as state wildlife officers in the signature portion of their respective documents. And one of these wildlife officers - Michael Ohlrich and assigned to Clermont County - even used official Wildlife Division stationary to make his plea to Judge Barrett.

The other two wildlife officers who sent letters to Judge Barrett  and who posted at the end their status as current wildlife officers were:  James Carnes, state wildlife officer assigned to Highland County; and Chris Gilkey, one-time state wildlife officer assigned to Adams County and now assigned to Meigs County.

A forth state wildlife officer, Rick Rogers, state wildlife officer assigned to Warren County, mentioned in the body of his letter that he had worked with Wright as a fellow state wildlife officer for 11 years.

All four letters were sent to Judge Barrett during a seven-day period beginning Feb. 16.

In each case the officers spelled out their respect for the defrocked Wright, noting his standing as a devoted family man with a wife and two children as well as the former officer’s dedication to his job.

Carnes says in his letter that he and Wright have become friends as have their respective wives.

Gilkey wrote that “As an officer, Allan was by far one of the best officers to ever put the uniform on.” while Ohlrich wrote that “The media has dragged his (Wright’s) name through the mud.”

And Rogers penned that he “...always observed high levels of integrity in all law the enforcement situations that I worked on with him (Wright).”

As for the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, its only comment for now  is this tersely worded statement: “We are reviewing the documents in conjunction with the department’s policy and will make a determination.”
 Jeffrey L. Frischkorn
Twitter: @Fieldkorn

Family fishing title passes to younger generation

And here all this time I thought I was the better and most devoted angler in the Frischkorn clan.

Whoops, my mistake, and I must relinquish the throne to my six-year-old grand-nephew, Nicholas Frischkorn.

Nicholas - or Nick for short - is the son of my nephew Richie and the grandson of my older brother, Rich.

That Nick has taken to angling the way an osprey does just shows how genetically we are linked. Even though Nick has only six years under his youthful belt he’s also managed to capture a Fish Ohio-qualifying specimen for three of those years.

You almost could say that Nick learned how to reel in a fish around the same time that he learned to walk.

Best of all young Nicholas loves to fish and loves to do it with his grand-uncle. That would be me.

“What’s that, Uncle Jeff?” Nick asked as he inspected the mortal remains of a plastic worm a bass had dispatched.

The soft plastic fake worm had been a whole entity fixed to the upper hook of a two-hook drop-shot rig. A bass had chewed off the bait’s tail.

I explained to Nick what the item in question was and whereupon the youngster asked if he could have one, too.

Shrugging my shoulders in a “why not?” gesture I then screwed the plastic worm’s leftovers onto the hook. Above the baited hook was a bobber attached to fishing line that was stored inside the guts of a Zebco spin-cast reel.

Nick then wound up, depressed the reel’s thumb-bar and flung the rig into the farm pond’s waters.

Even though Nick is a boy-size person he handled the man-sized spin-cast outfit in a manner that suggested the two have been attached for just about forever. Certainly longer than for only a couple of hours.

By golly, Nick knew what he was doing. In spite of the fact that the bitty piece of plastic worm shouldn’t have attracted the interest of a pint-sized sunfish, Nick made it work by catching a palm-size bluegill.

Swinging the now-suspended panfish toward me like some crane operator, Nick was suggesting without words that he’d like his great-uncle to unhook and release the fish. A task easily done and properly accommodated.

Then Nick went back to casting and after his grandfather had replaced the trifling bit of plastic worm with a fresh Berkley PowerBait leech.

All of this activity came roughly three hours after our arrival at the farm pond. You’d have thought that a child’s attention span would have vaporized long ago but then you’d misunderstand Nick’s love of fishing.

Asked if he were tired and wanted to call it a day, Nick’s answer was short and straight to the point: “No” was all he said.

Don’t get me wrong. Nicholas enjoys all of the usual tempting distractions that are marketed to death on cable television’s childrens’ shows.

Except in Nick’s case he is also more than willing to step outside and go fishing. Just as his cousin - and another grandnephew - Charlie enjoys doing.

That both boys have said they like fishing with Uncle Jeff goes to show you that they have good taste in selecting their angling company.

The day progressively became warmer and the wind continued to stir the farm pond’s surface. Maybe the conditions were not ideal though you couldn’t prove it by Nick’s aptitude at catching fish.

Nick was clearly in his element, and both his grandfather and great-uncle displayed and remarked with appropriate pride the lad’s fishing acumen and intensity.

Let it be said as well that the announced end to the day came not from Nick but from me, a surrender seconded by Grandfather Rich.

After packing the fishing gear, Rich, Richie and I all chortled how much of a good time we had, enjoying catching fish but happier still that the day’s greatest trophy came by watching a very dedicated young man fall to the spell of fishing.

Nope, I don’t mind it one bit that the family’s top angling crown and scepter now passes over to Nick.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn
Twitter: @Fieldkorn

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Geauga County's wild hog find worries wildlife officials

Wildlife officials are alarmed that a feral/wild hog was found dead Wednesday along Route 422 in Parkman Township.

The hog weighed between 75 and 100 pounds and was a female, called a sow and which might have been pregnant.

What concerns the Wildlife Division is the implication that where one wild hog exists there may be others, and that could lead to a variety of challenges, wildlife officials say.

Such critters are sometimes vectors of swine-related diseases that can be transmitted to livestock, for one thing, these officials say.

“Each year feral hogs do about $1 billion worth of damage to crops and property,” said Allen Lea, wildlife biologist with the Ohio Division’s Wildlife’s District Three (Northeast Ohio) office in Akron.

“One of the problems here in Ohio are those who view hogs as a hunting opportunity where we look at them as a nuisance that must be removed from the landscape,” Lea said.

Lea said also that so far no one has come forward to claim the animal though the state wildlife assigned to Geauga County, Scott Denamen, will be conduct a survey to see if any ownership can be established.

It is also noteworthy, says Lea, that releasing a feral hog into the wild is illegal, even if the intent is to establish a huntable population.

Such an act has many negative consequences, says Lee.

“The economic loss and danger to a community is far greater than anything that might come from hunting them,” Lea said.

Lea also said hair samples were taken for DNA testing and which were passed on to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Wildlife Services Division.

The test will help wildlife biologists in determining distribution in Ohio and elsewhere, Lee says.

Introduced to the continental United States in 1539, feral swine are rapidly becoming established throughout the country.

It is estimated that wild breeding populations of feral swine are now present in 35 to 40 states with a total nationwide population estimate of 4 million animals.

Texas the most hogs with an estimate of around 2 million hogs with Florida in second with an approximate 500,000 wild swine.

A female wild hog becomes sexually mature in as little as six months of age and can have up to three litters annually, with each litter consisting of up to 10 piglets.

While unconfirmed sightings of feral swine are reported periodically throughout the State, the greatest concentration of verified populations can be found in the unglaciated region of southeastern Ohio.

Currently, known breeding populations of feral swine have been confirmed in Adams, Ashtabula, Athens, Belmont, Gallia, Hocking, Jackson, Lawrence, Monroe, Ross, Scioto, and Vinton counties.

For further information about wild hogs in Ohio visit the Wildlife Division’s web site on the subject at

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn
Twitter: @Fieldkorn

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Pink pigs can fly: Ohio's greens praise Gov. Kasich

Do we now have a kinder, more environmentally gentle governor?

You might think so after reading the high praise awarded Tuesday to Republican Gov. John Kasich by one of the state’s leading environmental groups.

Always at each others throats the state’s environmentalists and Kasich likely do not send each other Christmas cards.

Yet on Tuesday along came an exception that proves the rule.

This is when the Ohio Environmental Council had nothing but good things to say about Kasich who signed into law the so-called “Mid-Biennium Review Bill.” This measure includes a $42 million appropriation for the Clean Ohio Fund.

The what?

As a short history lesson the Clean Ohio Fund was approved by the state’s voters in 2000 and became law the same year. It is fueled by bonds, not direct taxes, and was reauthorized by voters a few years later.

Initially, Ohio allocated $400 million to help clean up abandoned industrial sites, preserve farmland, acquire land for greenspace and also to build recreation trails.

Over the years the Fund’s financial assets have conserved 26,000 acres of natural areas, preserved 20,000 acres of family farms and created 216 miles of recreation trails.

In the official parlance issued by the Ohio Environmental Agency, the Clean Ohio Fund “Provides four competitive funds which serve to preserve greenspace, retain farmland, create recreational trails and clean up brownfields and return them to productive use. Ohio EPA’s Site Assistance and Brownfield Revitalization Program assists the Ohio Department of Development with the management of the Clean Ohio Revitalization Fund and the Clean Ohio Assistance Fund.”

The Ohio EPA staff also provides technical assistance to applicants during the application process and project implementation, assist in the review of applications with regard to proposed remedies and applicable standards, and review completed cleanups for compliance with applicable standards.

Kasich’s recent action will - says the pro-environmental group - provide $36 million in funding for the Clean Ohio Conservation Fund “for acquisition of open space for parkland, river corridor protection, and natural area preservation and $6 million for preservation of prime farmland through the Clean Ohio Agricultural Easement Fund.”

The governor’s approval on Tuesday of $42 million along with $6 million approved last year brings the total approval of Clean Ohio Fund funding to $48 million under the Kasich Administration, says the environmentalists as well.

“We are thrilled that Gov. Kasich has approved this good green investment in parkland and farmland,” said Keith Dimoff, the environmental group’s executive director. “This is a solid investment that will pay dividends for nature, families, farmers, and employers, alike.”

Dimoff said also that the Clean Ohio Fund has a “solid track record in every county of the state, helping set aside parkland and open space, build recreation trails, and preserve prime farmland.”

“This is good, bipartisan government at its best, and we salute Gov. Kasich for giving our lawmakers’ good effort his green housekeeping seal of approval,” Dimoff said.

Wow, my head is still spinning after being rocked by this high praise of an administration that up until now was the bane of Ohio’s environmental community. I guess pink pigs really DO fly after all.

 Jeffrey L. Frischkorn
Twitter: @Fieldkorn

Ohio moves closer to concealed carry law reform

House Bill 495 passed Tuesday in the Ohio House State Government and Elections Committee by a party-line vote.  HB 495 now moves to the House floor, where it could be scheduled for a vote as early as today, reports the NRA.
"This important pro-gun reform legislation" was introduced on March 27 by state Representative Terry Johnson (R-89) and would address several problems with current Ohio gun laws, the NRA says.
The measure's specifics are:
· Establish 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.  HB 495 would still allow for written agreements between the states if the other state does not have automatic reciprocity, but it eliminates the requirement for a written agreement if reciprocity can occur automatically by operation of law.
· Eliminate the renewal competency certification requirement for concealed carry licenses.  Currently, after the first renewal of a concealed handgun license, applicants must submit proof of renewed certification to show that range competency for all subsequent renewals.  HB 495 would make it so that applicants can simply show an existing or expiring license or one's original competency certificate as proof of the necessary training for all renewals.
· Change 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.  HB 495 would change this definition so that the magazine must be inserted into the firearm in order for it to be considered loaded.
Define “Concealed Handgun License” in one section of the revised code and clarify that this definition applies to all references to a concealed handgun license in the revised code.  HB 495 would simplify the state code and make it easier to read, understand, comply with and enforce.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn