Friday, January 4, 2013

Ohio Wildlife Division chief's 2013 Wish List

With a year that saw the Ohio Division of Wildlife’s reputation tarnished by internal scandal, the agency’s chief, Scott Zody, is looking forward to burnishing the image of his agency in 2013.

Such an effort will go into an already complex mix typically associated with an agency that has to balance science with socioeconomic realities.

That being noted, Zody says he is ready for action.

“We are still working on putting together our final goals and objectives for 2013, but there are some items that I would like to see accomplished this year,” Zody says.
Among Zody’s 2013 goals is the completion of a forest inventory of certain forested wildlife areas and also implement a long-term management strategy for those properties.

A second goal for the Wildlife Division to complete various pilot projects designed to improve upland game wildlife habitat on select wildlife area parcels

Such a task would utilize a public-private partnership through Pheasants Forever and private contractors with the focus on improving grassland habitats and early, so-called, successional areas.

A key, important objective, Zody says, is to evaluate current whitetail deer regulations and seasons and make necessary adjustments.

This is a critical near-term objective, Zody says, because the agency must present proposed hunting laws to the eight-member Ohio Wildlife Council this spring and even earlier at the various open houses.

“We should have more on this in the next 30 days,” Zody said.

A carry-over from 2012, says Zody, is to complete Phase II of the state’s Lake Erie Birding Trail Project.

Zody says also he wants to identify and expand upon the Youth Fishing partnership that was initiated in 2012 in cooperation with the Wildlife Division’s sister agency; the Division of Parks and Recreation.

“While this is not an ‘all-encompassing’ list, it does reflect some of the higher priorities that I have for the Division,” Zody said.

Not lost either is the need to “recruit and promote highly qualified individuals to replace those lost over the past year to retirement and continue to rebuild the Division’s reputation and integrity among hunters, anglers and all Ohioans,” Zody said.

“Regardless of legal issues, if we are to be successful and restore integrity and trust, we must do so one day at a time and focus on accomplishing our mission to provide sound scientific fish and wildlife management and the highest quality customer service,” Zody said.

Ultimately, says Zody, no one should expect the Wildlife Division to wave either a “magic wand” or shoot a “silver bullet” to move the agency forward.

“It will take hard work and dedication and each Wildlife Division employee must focus on ‘Look Right. Do Right, Be Right’, and that starts with me,” Zody says.

Asked about his personal outdoors goals for 2013, Zody says he already has one Ohio Big Buck to his credit and another one he shot this season also likely will make the books.

“But my greatest personal satisfaction in 2012 came from having the opportunity to take a couple of youngsters out hunting; one of whom harvested his first deer on my property during the Youth Gun Season,” Zody said. “I don’t know who was more excited – the young man, his father, me or my son who helped drag the deer out of our woods.

“It was a refreshing and motivating reminder of why I chose a path of public service, and how important passing on our hunting and fishing heritage is for our families.”

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn
Twitter: @Fieldkorn

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