Monday, July 30, 2012

CORRECTED: Public input sought for proposed fillet, game preserve, squirrel hide rules

Ohio’s hunters and anglers will have an opportunity to chip in their two cents worth when the Ohio Division of Wildlife conducts open house meetings to discuss proposed changes to the state’s fish and wildlife rules.

These meetings are scheduled for noon to 3 p.m., Aug. 11 at all of the Wildlife Division’s five district offices.
Also, the Wildlife Division’s Fairport Harbor Fisheries Research Station is a new venue for the fish and game proposal meetings.

“We don’t know how many people will attend but there are a couple of Lake Erie fisheries issues on the agenda,” said Kevin Kayle, the station’s manager. “There’s also been an effort to expand on where these kinds of meetings.”

During the spring series of fish and game hearings attendance was largely sparse. The Wildlife Division reports that 58 people visited the hearings in each Wildlife District One and Two (central Ohio and northwest Ohio, respectively), 93 people in Wildlife District Three (Northeast Ohio), 11 people in Wildlife District Four (southeast Ohio), and 77 people in Wildlife District Five (southwest Ohio).

With that being said, attendance for this spring’s hearings were up 13 percent from those conducted in the spring of 2011, the Wildlife Division says.

For this round of hearings the proposals encompass new rules for wild animal hunting preserves, commercial bird shooting preserves and wild cervidaes to align with recently enacted legislation (House Bill 389).

The rule package also includes proposals to define the geographical limits on reservoirs and bag limits on selected fish species.

Among the other topics is one that deals with how Lake Erie anglers can transport the fillets gleaned from the fish they catch. A rather contentious debate raged earlier this year when the Wildlife Division installed requirements that were roundly panned by Lake Erie anglers as being nearly draconian in nature.

Now the Wildlife Division is proposing a rule that would require fillets sliced from any Lake Erie-caught fish to “be kept whole until an angler reaches their permanent residence or until the fish are prepared for immediate consumption.

“There will be no requirement to keep any skin on them; and this rule will not apply to anglers with a receipt from a fish cleaning house or charter captain which states the date, number and species of fish,” the agency says.

Other rule proposals deal with wild animal hunting preserves, commercial bird shooting preserves and wild cervidaes in order “to align with recently enacted legislation,” the Wildlife Division says.

Another proposed change would permit hunters to leave the hides on the squirrels they shoot along with the animals’ tails. These hunters send the squirrel tails to a fishing tackle company such as Mepps.

At that point the tackle-making company uses the tails to dress the lures’ treble hooks. In exchange, the hunters are either paid in cash or sent fishing tackle for the tails.

“There’s a lot folks - especially in southeast Ohio - who like to sell squirrel tails but they’re not detaching them from the hides, and you can’t sell hides,” says Ken Fitz, the Wildlife Division's law enforcement administrator. “This change will actually will be more lenient.”

As for the changes that impact bird-hunting preserves, owners/operators would no longer need a bird propagation permit which costs $40, instead needing only a commercial bird shooting preserve permit, which costs $200.

“There’s really no need for them to have to have two permits,” Fitz said.

Also, contained within the proposals, deer and turkey hunters will need to fill out their own home-made temporary kill tag. This self-made document can made from any material the hunter chooses, Fitz says.

“A hunter can use duct tape if wants to so long as he writes the information on it,” Fitz said. “He can even write the game check confirmation number on the same thing that has the temporary tag information.”

If approved, all of these rule changes will go into effect beginning Jan. 1.

Each open house location will have a fish and wildlife biologist, as well as law enforcement officers available to answer questions.

For those customers who are unable to attend an open house, comments will be accepted online at The form are available now through Aug. 12.

Public input gathered at these open houses and through the online comments will be forwarded to the agency and considered during the formulation of regulations, the Wildlife Division says.

 A statewide hearing on all proposed rules will be held on Thursday, Sept. 20 at 9 a.m. at the Division of Wildlife’s District One office, located at 1500 Dublin Road, Columbus.

This last hearing is open to the public and comments are permitted. After considering public input, the Ohio Wildlife Council will vote on the proposed rules during its Oct. 17 meeting.

The agency’s open house locations are:

*  District One Wildlife Office, 1500 Dublin Road, Columbus. For more information, call 614-644-3925;

*  District Two Wildlife Office, 952 Lima Avenue, Findlay. For more information, call 419-424-5000;

* District Three Wildlife Office, 912 Portage Lakes Drive, Akron. For more information, call 330-644-2293;

* District Four Wildlife Office, 360 E. State Street, Athens. For more information, call 740-589-9930;

* District Five Wildlife Office, 1076 Old Springfield Pike, Xenia. For more information, call 937-372-9261;

Other sites will be:

* Eastern Lake Erie - Fairport Fisheries Unit, 1190 High Street, Fairport Harbor. For more information, call 440-352-4199.

* Western Lake Erie - Lake Erie Shores and Islands Regional Welcome Center – West, 770 SE Catawba Road, Port Clinton. For more information, call 419-625-8062.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn
Twitter: @Fieldkorn

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