Saturday, August 31, 2013

Obama's re-importation gun ban a real head-scratcher

The latest Second Amendment slam by the Obama Administration goes beyond just firing a squib.

Try a pure blank. No powder. No primer. No sense.

On Thursday – with all the pomp, circumstance and Rose Garden ceremony Obama could muster – the President issued an executive (dis)order prohibiting the re-importation of U.S.-made military weapons.

It is important to take note of several points. Make that vital to take note of several points.

What we are talking about here are not the so-called “black rifles” of Vietnam fame nor the M4 variant of Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts, either.

Nope. What we have Obama/Joe Biden/Eric Holder seeking to gun down is the re-importation of 60- to 70-year-old M1 carbines and (chiefly) M1 Garands.

That's the stuff our fathers, uncles and grandfathers used in the Pacific and Atlantic theaters of World War II and a few years later on the Korean Peninsula.

At some point a goodly number of these weapons were passed off to our allies around the globe.

In all, more than 30 countries have at one time or another relied on the Garand as their chief battlefield rifle, though absolutely none since Obama was in diapers.

Among the friendlies who were given these Garands was South Korea.

And for the past several decades these greased-soaked rifles were collecting dust in South Korean military warehouses.

South Korea recognized a few years back it didn't have much need for antiquated semi-automatic rifles that can handle no more than eight rounds, weighs in at a hefty 9 ½ pounds on the light side to as much as 11 ½ pounds on the chunky side, and firing a rather robust and certainly large caliber cartridge that greaty limits how many rounds a soldier or Marine could carry.

Even Wikipedia notes that some military and armament experts call the Garand's gas-operation system “archaic” by modern weaponry status.

So with an inventory it doesn't need and a knowledge that tens to hundreds of thousands of American gun collectors and competitive rifle shooters would eagerly sop up the Garands, South Korea offered to return some 87,000 Garands.

Initially the Obama Administration said “no” before it said “yes” before saying “no” again on Thursday.

All without providing even a scintilla of evidence that re-imported American-made M1 carbines – much less M1 Garands – from ally South Korea have been or would ever likely be used in gun crimes.

Indeed, just the opposite.

Yep, so much so that back in 1986 when a similar re-importation offer caught the eye of President Ronald Reagan and Congress there was scant opposition.

Not even, by the way, from then-U.S. Senator and avid anti-gunner Ted Kennedy who fully understood that Garands were not and never would be, a criminal's weapon of choice.

Consequently, Garands are being sold to the shooting public every day by the Civilian Marksmanship Program, a quasi-public/private organization that promotes responsible firearms instruction through various programs and competitive matches.

These matches are held throughout the United States under a set of rigorous rules and safety standards. A series of John Garand rifle matches is conducted locally by the Crooked Creek Conservation Club in Ashtabula County's Hartsgrove Township.

And even though more than 6 million Garands were eventually made a goodly portion of them had and have seen better days. Thus a marksman who wants a serviceable firearm for use in competition will assemble a “shooter” from two or more used Garands.

Meanwhile, collectors vie for the most arcane variants, hoping to add to their gun vaults rifles of some vintage and minute difference.

As a result, good-quality Garands are becoming increasingly expensive to come by and just as truthfully, increasingly difficult to find.

So now we have messieurs Obama, Biden and Holder lashing out at firearms that pose virtually no criminal threat simply because they can, and equally dumb because they are frustrated at not being able to secure Congressional approval for more strict, comprehensive gun control laws.

Talk about your petulant, spoiled bullies. This trio takes the all-time prize.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Ohio monitors - and prepares for worst - for CWD in the state's deer herd

As Ohio awaits its possible turn as the next place where chronic wasting disease (CWD) shows up in the deer herd, state scientists have already mapped out a defensive strategy.
That pro-active plan first and foremost will include an aggressive containment policy surrounding a six-mile radius where the disease is detected.
Ohio may not have long to wait, either, as the neighboring states of West Virginia and Pennsylvania both have scored CWD infections, though in limited areas.
But, yes, might as well expect that CWD will eventual raise its ugly head here, says the Ohio Division of Wildlife's white-tail deer management administrator.
“There are a couple of camps on opinions regarding CWD,” says agency wildlife biologist Mike Tonkovich. “Some biologists believe it's always existed, but that raises the question of why we haven't found it in the environment.”
In answering his own question Tonkovich responded by saying that perhaps scientists may need to start rooting around for soil samples and not just pawing through the brains of dead deer.
“Until CWD is found in a disease-free area, the camp that believes it was always present will have few 'campers,' ” Tonkovich says. “Point is, people may already be sifting through the soil but I'm not aware of any such work.”
Even so, Tnkovich says “CWD may already be here in Ohio.”
Again, to answer his own musings - at least partially, anyway - Tonkovich says there are at least two potential pathways for CWD's entry. That arrival might come either by (as scientists are fond of saying): “Walk or by truck.”
The first expression means an infected animal may wander into the state on its own. The second scenario would be the inadvertent delivery an infected animal via truck to a captive deer-breeding farm or else a high-fence big-game hunting operation.
“With more than 700 captive cervid facilities in the state, Ohio likely sees its share of both intrastate and interstate commerce and movement of animals,” Tonkovich says.
Then too, Tonkovich says, a lone hunter who unknowingly kills an infected deer or an elk out-of-state and then returns to Ohio that person could become the disease's gatekeeper.
For one very simple reason. If this hunter were to arrive back home with an infected critter intact he then could spread or introduce CWD by improperly discarding through burial the hide, head or other potentially prion-contaminated parts.
Since prions are not only genetically non-living entities but extraordinarily persistent little buggers they can exist in the soil for equally extraordinarily long periods of time.
Thus, prions are ticking time bombs.
Unless, of course, the CWD prions are already here in Ohio and going about their sordid work.
Prions are pretty much considered the dirty player in the CWD drama, too, says Tonkovich.
In the short version of what constitutes a prion, science says it is a mutated protein. Make that – and this is important – a “thing” with no DNA or RNA to give it life.
Still, prions are functional, permitting themselves in a complex fashion somehow to replicate themselves.
Then again, even among scientists the exact role of prions in CWD remains open to debate; whether they are the cause of the disease or possibly just a by-product symptom.
Regardless, the CWD disease focuses its attention on the brain. And as the number of prions in the brain increases the organ begins to develop a Swiss-cheese- or sponge-like structure.
CWD is always fatal. Nor is there a known cure.
Yet while CWD is bad business for elk, deer, moose and such, there is scant to no evidence that this particular “transmissible spongiform encephalopathy” (TSE) disease can invade the human brain. With one important caveat.
Virtually every biologist, physician and scientist cautions against eating certain parts of an infected animal or potentially infected animal. Among those parts would include any component of an animal's central nervous system.
Regardless, Tonkovich notes, the Wildlife Division is working closely with other states as well as internally with other Ohio agencies in trying to get a grip on any potential CWD infestation.
The last thing Ohio wants is to join the roughly 17 or so other states and two Canadian provinces where CWD is known to exist in either captive or wild deer and-or elk.
To that end for each of the about 10 most recent years the Wildlife Division has swept up from 400 to 500 deer for laboratory sampling of CWD.
All are road-killed deer, for a particularly interesting and scientifically sound reason as well, says Tonkovich.
Call it the “zombie-fication” of CWD, if you will.
Since a deer that has lost at least some of its brain power to CWD is more likely to become a road-kill statistic than a healthy, alert deer, those are the animals the Wildlife Division seeks for testing purposes, Tonkovich says.
“Imagine losing part of your brain function,” Tonkovich says. “If we see a deer acting strangely it will go a lab.”
As to whether the sampling of roughly 500 road-kill deer annually is sufficient to detect a CWD outbreak, Tonkovich says the figure is more than enough to get the job done.
In terms of Ohio's on-going look into CWD and its current action/response plan, that course is laid out all business-like, adds Tonkovich.
Chiefly if CDW is found than the state will impose a six-mile radius (113 square miles) containment zone around the location of the proven CWD-infected animal.
The state would then go in, employ a strategy to cull additional animals as well as require hunters to check-in their deer. These deer bodies (heads, really) would undergo laboratory testing for CWD.
Also, within that 113 square mile containment zone, the use of bait to attract deer would no longer be legal.
But likely just within the containment zone, though, says Tonkovich.
The reason being is that the statewide deer-bait-ban horse bolted out the barn door years and years ago, Tonkovich says.
“It would be very, very difficult to administer and enforce a statewide ban today,” Tonkovich said.
Even so, Tonkovich also says, no need exists for scientists – much less, hunters - to run in circles, scream and shout about CWD either now or in the possible/likely future.
Indeed, several states where CWD is known to exist are even backing off the throttle on how they approach the problem.
That is because the disease appears to be slow to spread, and as often as not scares the be-jabberers out of hunters far beyond any actual threat to either a state's deer herd or human health.
And with every CWD-infected state and province now focused on controlling the number of does - plus the employment of increasingly knowledgeable containment game plans - a better understanding of the disease, its consequences and management strategies are ever-evolving, says Tonkovich.
In short, says Tonkovich, a sense of some “CDW fatigue” is beginning to set in with hunters and biologists alike.
“I suspect that at some point we'll be studying this chapter in our deer-management history classes,” Tonkovich says.
- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Special Safety Zone for weekend's Battle of Lake Erie Bicentennial festivities

Not wanting to go to war with curious recreational boaters this up-coming Labor Day holiday weekend, the U.S. Coast is taking a pro-active approach for the accompanying Battle of Lake Erie Bicentennial festivities.

This is the why Coast Guard will work in conjunction with other federal agencies as well as their Ohio state and western Lake Erie law enforcement counterparts in protecting the expected flotilla of tall ships.

A temporary Safety Zone and Special Regulated-Restricted Area is being established for the Battle of Lake Erie Bicentennial tall ships festival in and around South Bass Island its Put-in-Bay Village.

This is the area where 200 years ago Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry defeated a British armada, sweeping the fleet from the Great Lakes.

Coast Guard officials say the Safety Zone is being established for the protection of the tall ships and their crews.

This Safety Zone will be in place from Thursday through Labor Day Monday, the Coast Guard says.

Specifics for Labor Day Monday's signature activities are:

The Coast Guard will enforce a 500–yard safety zone around all tall ships participating in the Battle of Lake Erie Bicentennial reenactment.

The exact course the tall ships will take during the battle reenactment will depend on the day’s wind and weather conditions.

Additionally, the Coast Guard will establish a special local regulated area encompassing the viewing area for the reenactment. This regulated area is a circle with a radius of 4,500 yards centered on the sound effects barge located at the reenactment site.

Spectator vessels may not anchor within a 4,500-yard radius of the sound effects barge, as they may have to give way to the tall ships on short notice.

Also, while in this regulated area, boaters must yield right-of-way to event safety craft.

Likewise, boaters must follow directions given by the U.S. Coast Guard patrol commander, on-scene representative, or other law enforcement representatives assisting the patrol commander during the event.

Event safety craft will be flying orange triangular pennants with the words “SAFETY BOAT” written on the pennants in black letters.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Monday, August 26, 2013

The latest lowdown on the Ammo Shortage of 2013

All conspiracy theories aside, the National Rifle Association has come up with the best explanation yet for the on-going shortage of sporting ammunition.
Which, by the way, does appear to be easing. At least in parts of the country, including here in Northeast Ohio.
Anyway, the NRA's detailed account of the present ammo shortage situation appears in the
September issue of the organization's “American Hunter” magazine.
It's two pages worth of details are found in the magazine's “Firstlight” section and is written by Jon Draper, the “American Hunter's” assistant editor.
Some of what Draper writes has been covered in the recent past here and by me.
Among the parallel themes is how ammunition manufacturers are pouring out all the stops to produce more fodder for the firearms owned and used by the nation's civilian hunters, competitive shooters and plinkers.
Another point emphasized by the NRA piece is the lack of any evidence of some kind of government conspiracy intended to deny the American public access to ammunition.
I will repeat this so as there can be no doubt: No such government conspiracy existed or exits now, period. End of discussion.
In fact, the “Firstlight” piece notes that the “see-see-see” finger-pointing at the Department of
Homeland Security's goal to buy 450 million rounds of .40-caliber pistol ammo over the next five years is totally bunk.
Even more so, I'd say, than the musings of the Flat Earth Society or those who know for certain that Neil Armstrong never stepped foot on the moon.
The reason being, the department consists of no fewer than eight agencies with a total of 65,000 armed agents. Among the agencies: the Secret Service, the Immigration and customs, Boarder Patrol and others.
These agents not only carry weapons fueled with ammunition the personnel are also required to maintain proficiency with their firearms. That work requires more than dry firing of their handguns, obviously.
Yet Draper goes on to explain a couple of other reasons I hadn't thought of which makes perfect sense as to why a shortage developed. Including in this group is hording, which I've covered a time or two before as well.
Consider that with a high demand for ammunition of all calibers (and gauges, come to think of it) as well as bullet weights, the most popular ones are going to get top billing.
That means you'll find ammunition makers dedicating their machinery to producing more 9mm Luger rounds and less time cranking out rounds of .32 ACP.
Makes perfect, logical sense.
So does the fact that gun owners are not content with walking into a Walmart, a Gander Mountain or a Cabela's store and being happy buying a 50-round box or two of whatever.
Oh, no, they're buying much, much more.
Like one of my older brothers who now possesses no fewer than 5,000 rounds of .22-caliber long rifle ammunition.
Draper's story also quotes the National Shooting Sports Foundation as saying that today's first-time firearms buyers are using their weapons at least once a month instead of just plinking every now and then at a gun range.
Then the story goes to note that as the shooting sports have attracted more participants the more businesses that cater to these shooters have come on line.
The translation of this details implies that ammunition makers must now supply a limited product to more outlets, thereby reducing the inventory that each business has on hand.
Lastly – and this reason was an eye-opener because of its far-reaching implications - there is the question of what's called “commodities,” or the raw materials needed to build a round of ammunition.
Copper, brass, steel, lead, tungsten, bismuth, plastic, and the chemicals needed to make gunpowder and even a host of other unrelated products are all highly desirable and much sought after. And not just by United States companies, either.
Emerging economic powerhouses like the Peoples Republic of China and India are in the same raw material commodities race as are the businesses across town from Any City, USA.
Make the wrong projection of how much of what metal you'll need over the next several months to make “x” number of rounds of ammunition and either you are out of luck or else you have to try and find what you need on the spot market.
Such concerns are what keeps chief financial officers awake at night and sales of Maalox also in high gear.
So go ahead and believe the government, the Obama Administration, or greedy American corporations are behind the ammo shortage.
Shoot, blame little green men from Mars or their counterparts at the Department of Homeland Security if you wish.
The truth is far more complex and much more challenging to cope with than many firearms owners are willing to accept.
And though these gun-slingers may be satisfied believing in the unbelievable, in the end they won't come any closer to finding that 500-round brick of .22-caliber CCI MiniMag ammunition.
- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Thursday, August 22, 2013

UPDATED: TenPoint helps Horton crossbow owners as liquidation firm looks to sell off repair parts

TenPoint Crossbow Technologies couldn't repair Horton Crossbow products even if the Shuffield, Ohio-based industry leader wanted to.

The best that TenPoint can do – and is doing, in fact – is either return the approximately 400 Horton crossbows originally sent in for repairs or else help owners of such archery tackle as to where they might go for assistance.

All for a number of very good reasons, a TenPoint official says.

Chief among them being that TenPoint did not buy everything related to Horton's former manufacturing and assembly plant in Tallmadge, Ohio.

Instead, several weeks ago TenPoint bought Horton's crossbow patents along with various pieces of equipment unrelated to actual crossbow component manufacturing.

That meant TenPoint bought such pieces of equipment as forklifts, bow presses and other routine factory gear, as well as assuming the remainder of the building lease that Horton had in the Akron suburb.

As for the bits, parts, pieces, widgets, and whatnot that go into the actual making of a Horton crossbow those items were purchased by a local liquidation firm, says Randy Wood, TenPoint's National Sales manager.

And that company says it is on track to dispose of the inventory as quickly as possible.

“We are in contact with dealers, service centers, and retailers concerning the available inventory,” says Clifford W. Croley, a partner with Akron-based Croley, Martell, and Associates, Ltd.

Croley says his liquidation company has “a substantial amount of retail-ready accessories and service parts” along with bulk service parts.

All of this materiel is being sold to dealers and retailers only, none to consumers since such a process is the most logical and practical delivery method, Croley says..

“Our intent is to sell this inventory in as expeditious manner as possible,” Croley also says. “We are selling them while supplies last.”

Wood says also that once Croley and his liquidation company arrives at a final Horton parts disposition plan, he will then inform TenPoint as to the destination of the components.

In such a way TenPoint will be able to assist current Horton crossbow owners in getting their equipment either serviced or where to find replacement parts, Wood said.

“Obviously the (Horton) warrantee is done away with,” Wood says. “But having replacement parts and knowing where to find them is important to many owners of Horton crossbows.”

Wood says as well that TenPoint has handled “hundreds” of inquiries about where to get Horton crossbows serviced as well as what is that firm's status since much of it was assimilated by TenPoint.

“We are doing our best to help steer owners of Horton crossbows in the right direction,” Wood said.

Among the most important of the communiques, says Wood, are the inquiries as to the status of crossbows sent to Horton before the plant's doors were shut and locked for the last time some months ago.

In all, approximately 400 such crossbows were sitting around Horton's now-defunct plant, collecting dust and being worried over by their anxious owners, Wood said.

“And we're working the best we can to get those crossbows back to their owners,” Wood said. “Even if they are not repaired, at least the owners will have them back. This is not something that we have to do but it's something we are doing because it's the right thing to do.”

Asked if TenPoint will eventually allow Horton crossbows to arise from the ashes like some archery tackle Phoenix, Wood says such an undertaking “is certainly a probability,” though not likely until 2015, possibly late 2014 at the earliest.

Whether such archery tackle will appear in the form of known Horton crossbow equipment or something altogether different is a matter for TenPoint's engineers to undertake first, Wood says.

And right now those engineers are engaged in work related to the firm's current TenPoint premium line and its price-point Wicked Ridge line of crossbows, Wood says.

Thus – and this is just speculation and not to hold his feet to the fire – if and when Horton's brand reappears it could be fitted between the TenPoint and Wicked Ridge line-up of crossbows, says Wood.

“Probably, but we can't say for sure because this is all so early,” Wood said.

This story may be updated if further information becomes available.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Obama nixes specific dog-breed bans as 50,000 feral canines run amuck in Detroit

With a bite as nasty as its bark in this case, the Obama Administration has come out in opposition to dog breed-specific bans.

The action stems from the Administration's long-standing practice of issuing a position statement when it receives an on-line petition containing a certain threshold of signatures.

In the case of seeking White House support for specific dog-breed bans the Administration was the recipient of a petition containing some 30,000 signatures supporting such a proposal.

And this matter has taken on added interest and possible urgency, too.

News reports say that bankrupt Detroit now has some 50,000 feral and wild dogs, many of which are roaming the city in packs. It is believed that many – possibly, most – are members of the generic “pit-bull” class of canines.

Detroit's problem with such animals is acute, too. Last year the city reported 903 people being bitten by dogs.

Likewise, the U.S. Postal Service has issued no delivery policies in some Detroit neighborhoods where packs of feral dogs are particularly plentiful.

Be that as it may, the Obama Administration has said it opposes legislation that specifically names certain dog breeds as being illegal to breed, own, or raise.

“We don't support breed-specific legislation,” the Obama Administration says in a response statement to the petition request.

“Research shows tat bans on certain types of dogs (breeds) are largely ineffective and often a waste of public resources.”

Obama Administration officials who drafted the response took note of a Center for Disease Control report that likewise concluded that dog breed-specific bans would not yield measurable success.

This,  in spite of the Center's conclusion that with 19 years of data about one-half of the 238 human fatalities from dog attacks were the result of “pit bull-type” breeds as well as Rottweilers.

However, the Center's conclusion was that the data should not be construed to become “the primary driving public policy concerning dangerous dogs.”

One of the difficulties of dog breed-specific measures is that in many cases of dog attacks the exact breed of the animal is not known, the Obama Administration's response also says.

Thus the Administration's position on specific dog-breed bans runs parallel to that of the American Kennel Club as well as the American Veterinary Medical Association's Task Force on Canine Aggression and Human-Canine Interactions.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

More (subtle) signs that ammo shortage is easing

Conspiracy theories aside, the nation's ammunition supply pipeline is beginning to ring less hollow with a smattering of additional calibers and bullet weights now clattering their way into gun shops.

Today while visiting Gander Mountain's Mentor, Ohio store I inquired as to whether a large squad of shooters were waiting when the doors opened at 9 a.m.

This particular Gander Mountain store – as does the Dick's Sporting Goods store up the street – receive its weekly ammunition shipment late on Mondays. The ammo is then cataloged and placed on shelves for sale beginning Tuesday morning.

Shooters would squeeze themselves in sardine-can fashion an hour or so before the store opened, each person anxious to rush to the back of the business in an effort to secure the maximum amount of ammunition Gander Mountain allows a person to buy in a day.

Only thing was today there was no crowd, no Black Friday-style rush to the handgun counter to snap up whatever ammunition was available. And there hasn't been a crush of this kind in three or four weeks, a sales associate said.

Thus, the clerk went on to add, an easing in ammunition availability is being seen. A trickle now but an easing still the same.

Maybe not for everything, either, but at least for some of the more popular handgun calibers. And even some hunting rifle calibers, too.

Another indicator that a relaxing in the ammunition supply chain is underway also was seen Tuesday but at Fin, Feather and Fur Outfitter's Middleburg Heights, Ohio store.

This firm owns three stores, including the main one in Ashland, Ohio, often rumored to be the largest seller of firearms in Ohio.

In any event, the Middleberg Heights store pretty much had it all: From such less popular rounds as the .222 Remington and .257 Roberts-Plus P to a goodly supply of popular bullet weights in .30-06 Springfield, .308 Winchester and 7mm Remington Magnum.

Ditto for pistol calibers as well. Among them being the .25 Auto, .32 Auto, as well as .380 Auto, 9mm Luger, .40 Smith & Wesson and .45 Auto.

Oh, and along with such rare birds as the .45 GAP and the the .327 Federal Magnum.

As for prices, some boxes were priced more than those being offered through the well-known Internet-based Able Ammunition while other calibers and bullet weight classes were marked less, or else within pennies of each other.

The same went for availability. While Fin, Feather and Fur had a number of caliber/bullet weight combinations on its shelves these pairings were listed as being “out of stock” on Able's web site.

Now comes the kicker.

Regardless of gun store visited or Internet site accessed, absent was much of anything in the way of 22-caliber rimfire ammunition.

About the only thing Fin, Feather and Fur carried of note were 500-round “bricks” of Federal standard velocity .22-caliber rimfire ammo and each selling for about $50. That's about the going rate on the Internet.

So is there a lesson in any of this?

Likely, yes. The lesson learned is that hording benefits no one in either cost or availability for starters.

Secondly, responsible hunters mulling checking zero on their deer rifles or slug shotguns must be mindful they'll likely need more than just one box of ammo to get the job done and still have a few cartridges left for the actual hunt.

Now about those .22s., I mentioned to the Gander Mountain sales clerk that my supply of squirrel-hunting ammunition is in good shape.
However, if I ever have to start from ground zero I'd think long and hard about buying a rifle in.17-Hornady, the caliber when even during the darkest of the ammo shortage days always appeared on gun shop shelves.

Either that or else go with one of the new precession air rifles.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Monday, August 19, 2013

False distress call to Coast Guard results in three-month jail term, nearly $500,000 restitution

It's not nice to fool either Mother Nature nor the U.S. Coast Guard, for that matter.

Sandusky resident Danik Shiv Kumar has learned that lesson the hard way. Both in terms of spending time in the federal Big House as well as his wallet.

Kumar was sentenced to three months in federal custody after for making a false distress call that caused a massive search on Lake Erie.

He also was ordered to pay $489,007 in restitution to the U.S. and Canadian governments.

Steven M. Dettelbach, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio, said Monday that Kumar, 21, pleaded guilty earlier this year to one count of making a false distress calls.

Kumar was sentenced today.

According to Dettelbach, on the evening of March 14 Kumar took off in a Cessna single-engine plane for a solo flight from Burke Lakefront Airport to Bowling Green State University.

About 30 minutes into his flight, Kumar called the Cleveland-Hopkins Airport control tower and reported seeing a vessel “launching up flares,” according to court documents.

Moments later, when asked for additional details about the vessel in distress, Kumar responded with “a 25-foot fishing vessel, I guess you could say. Everyone had a life jacket with a strobe light. I counted four of them,” again, according to court documents.

The information was relayed to the Coast Guard, which immediately dispatched two vessels.

The crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Thunder Bay searched for 21 hours, while multiple boat crews from Coast Guard Station Lorain searched for about 16 hours, the Coast Guard said.

Rescue helicopter crews from Coast Guard Air Station Detroit joined in the search, as did a Canadian Coast Guard airplane crew from Joint Rescue Coordination Centre Trenton, Ontario, also according to court documents.

More than a month later, Kumar admitted that he never saw flares or a boat in distress and there were never any people in need of help.

Kumar also admitted that when he landed at Bowling Green, he knew the Coast Guard was searching with full force but chose not to report the truth, according to court documents.

The $489,007 restitution amount represents the cost of the search. This amount is comprised of the $277,257 expended by U.S. agencies and the $211,750 cost to the Canadian government.

Likewise, Kumar was also sentenced to 250 hours of community service and three years of supervised release.

“I am concerned that there are people who are willing to risk the lives of other boaters who might be in legitimate need of rescue or assistance, as well as needlessly endanger response crews, by knowingly making a false distress calls,” said Capt. Eric Johnson, chief of the Coast Guard 9th District Incident Management Branch, located in Cleveland.

This case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Michelle Baeppler and Coast Guard Lt. Michael Petta, who was designated Special Assistant United States Attorney.

The case was investigated by the United States Coast Guard.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Thursday, August 15, 2013

See them with your grandkids while you still can

When tomorrow's kids wonder what a wood thrush or a cerulean warbler looks and sounds like they might very well need to visit the “extinct” section of a natural history museum rather than a neighborhood woodlot.

The fear is – says avian scientists – that the thrush and the brightly beautiful cerulean warbler are each on the cusp of vanishing forever. Possibly even before today's parents become tomorrow's grandparents.

Such is the dire warning being heralded by the American Bird Conservancy, an avian advocacy group that has reported on the threat of household and feral cats on bird populations and the health risks on raptors and associated with using lead ammunition.

The Conservancy says a very real possibility exists for the extinction for the wood thrush (a for now common enough species in Ohio) along with the cerulean warbler in addition to the long-billed curlew, the upland sandpiper, and the Kirtland's warbler.

Charles Fenwick, the Conservancy's president, says all five species have seen tumultuous population declines within just the past few decades.

In the case of the cerulean warbler, the species' population has plummeted by 70 percent over a 30-year period spanning 1966 to 1996.

The destruction of the species' mountain-type habitat is widely thought to lead the list of reasons for the warbler's decline.

No different either is the case for the wood thrush, an often enough for now companion of mine around my Lake County, Ohio deer blind.

Scientists say that the wood thrush has undergone an unwanted population starvation diet. Whereas wood thrush numbers during the 1960s was pegged at around 13 million individual birds, that figure today is estimated at only about five million individuals.

The problem for the wood thrush is two-fold, biologists say. Not only is the species confronting habitat loss on its breeding grounds in the eastern United States but its winter home in Mexico and Central America likewise is under assault.

And the upland sandpiper shares something in common with the passenger pigeon. Back in the 19th Century flocks of each species would take hours to pass by.

Yet over-harvesting was a key (though not, only) reason for the passenger pigeon just as it was for the upland sandpiper.

Both species suffered greatly from the loss of habitat though the sandpiper has managed to hang on. At least for now.

Of course an argument can made how the Kirtland's warbler is hindered by having one of the smallest and restrictive breeding grounds of any North American bird species.
This nesting territory is framed in its entirety by an island of fire-controlled jack pine plantations in the very upper reaches of Michigan's Lower Peninsula and some pioneering breeding pairs in the state's Upper Peninsula.

Yet while the population of Kirtland's warbler has grown 15 times over the past few years it must be remembered as well as emphasized how the total actual number of birds remains low.
It was only 26 years ago that the entire known stock of breeding male Kirtland's warblers was a paltry 167 individuals.

Among the Kirtland's warbler's on-going threats is nest raiding by the parasitic brown-headed cowbird.

To help the survival of these five bird species and others, the Conservancy will meet later this month with other like-minded groups in the so-named “Partners in Flight” conference.
There bird scientists, avian experts and birders will discuss what is currently underway to preserve, protect and promote the survival of the Western Hemisphere's entire aery of bird species.

“The stakes are quite high,” Fenwick says. “Many migratory bird species are far less common today than they were even in the early 1990s when efforts to reverse these broad declines was launched.
"This is true in part because the details surrounding the migration of many bird species had been a mystery until recently; and that point made it more challenging to take corrective action.”
- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Monday, August 12, 2013

Outdoor Notes: Lottery Hunt Odds/Fish Law Digest Goof/Ammo Shortage

With a few of the controlled waterfowl hunts and all of the applicants for the controlled deer hunts being drawn, take heart in knowing the odds were not in your favor.

Maybe that's why using the term “lottery” makes sense.

For the just concluded drawing and posting of the lucky recipients most of the hunts saw considerably more applicants than slots being available.

A short rundown helps illustrate the point. In all, 4,736 applicants each ponied up $3 for a chance to hunt deer at NASA's Plum Brook Research Station near Sandusky. Yet only 122 names were drawn for an odds of being selected ratio of 1 in 39.

This reserve's controlled archery deer hunt saw even greater odds: One in 46.

The much-sought-after permits to the Mosquito Creek Muzzle-loader controlled hunt were better, though not by much: One in 23.

To participate in the Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge/Magee Marsh deer gun hunt the odds were ridiculously stacked against you. Try to imagine odds of one in 81 with 2,264 applicants applying for just 28 slots.

All of these odds are downright sure things, at least when compared to the chances of being picked for either the gun hunt or the muzzle-loading hunt at the Transportation Research Center, wherever that place is.

For the gun hunt, 1,706 applicants filed for one of the 16 spots with the odds thus being One in 107.

Yet the odds of being selected for the muzzle-loading hunts at the Transportation Center were the longest of all, that being one in 165, or 1,316 people applying for just one of the eight available slots. Yikes, indeed.

Even the women hunts saw considerable interest. The women firearms hunt at the Ravenna Arsenal had odds of one in five while the women hunt at Killdeer Plains saw odds of One in 13.

And the mobility-impaired hunts were no better. The odds for such a hunt at the state's Castalia Coldwater Fish Hatchery were One in Seven, and One in Three for the similar hunts at Killdeer Plains.

Some hunters have become so discouraged after seeing their applications fail year after year they now refuse to apply. My two older brothers, Rich and Terry, are among them as are a couple of hunting buddies.

Some suggestions to improve the system include providing preference points whereby every year an applicant is not selected he or she gets an additional free try.

Another thought is to prohibit a person who is drawn for a particular hunt for applying again for a period of one or more years.

Both methods are employed elsewhere though the Ohio Division of Wildlife has reacted coolly toward adopting either of these suggestions let alone any other.

OOPS – Hunters and anglers use the respective game or fish law digests as guides to help keep them out of trouble with the law.

So what happens when the digests themselves are in error?

If you're the Wildlife Division you squirm out of the responsibility by saying the actual code is correct with the digest just being a helpful summary.

Oh, please. After going through the current, 2013-2014 Ohio fishing law digest I came across a puzzlement found on page 11. There, in black and white the Wildlife Division specifically excludes the use of crossbow for the taking of either frogs or turtles.

Thing is, the document is dead-set incorrect. A quick email note to Scott Zody, the Wildlife Division's chief, saw that the agency admitting it goofed and that the actual several-year-old technical language says all archery tackle is legal tender for taking frogs and turtles, not just longbows.

Of course when the 2014-2015 fishing law digest comes out late next winter that section about the taking of frogs and turtles is going to be my first read.

AMMO SHORTAGE/WHAT AMMO SHORTAGE – As been said here a few times within the past several weeks, the great ammunition shortage of 2013 is ever-so-slowly easing.

Not for every caliber and not in every locale but enough so that hunters looking to sight-in their firearms may sweat less in finding what they need prior to the deer-hunting season.

The Sportsman's Guide is circulating its latest e-version catalog, noting an adequate supply of .223 Remington/ 5.56 NATO.

Which, frankly, never seemed to have been much of an issue here in Northeast Ohio.

The guide likewise is listing several types of both 7.62x39mm and 7.62x54R ammunition.

Meanwhile, Ohio's Fin, Feather and Fur Outfitters' latest e-edition flier is noting “Great Savings” on several popular handgun calibers. Among them are 9mm, 40S&W, .380 Auto, .45ACP, and .38 Special.

And Able Ammo's web site lists no fewer than 16 types of .308 Winchester ammunition ready for ordering. This caliber had been one of the most challenging to buy during the Great Ammo Shortage of 2013.

Alas, however, even can't help when it comes to the availability of .22 long rifle ammunition or .45 Colt for that matter.

Hopefully with the various waterfowl, upland game, and small game hunting seasons on the horizon sportsmen won't similarly have difficulties finding the correct shotshell ammunition.
- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Wildlife Division's rule change open houses are democracy in action

Even for anglers having hot fun in the summertime does not include attending statewide hearings on rule changes to Ohio's fishing regulations.

Then again, when the most serious of the proposals involves reducing the number of yellow perch an angler can keep per day from some obscure inland lake this lack of interest becomes understandable.

Even when in one case just two visitors took the time to stop by during the three-hour open house held today (Saturday, August 10) at the Ohio Division of Wildlife's Fairport Harbor Fisheries Research Station.

“Our summer open houses to discuss proposed fishing and hunting rules are always leaner in terms of attendance than the ones in the winter,” said Kevin Kayle, manager of the fisheries research station.

“In many cases the proposals represent housekeeping chores; trying to tie up loose ends and clarify the rules.”

Kayle said the proposal to shrink the daily bag limit on yellow perch taken from inland waters has little to nothing to do with actual fisheries management.

Instead, says Kayle, the proposal is intended to help lift the fog on the subject and as found within the annual fishing law digest.

What happens is that some anglers read the fishing law digest and see the 40-per-day limit on yellow perch and then mistakenly believe it applies everywhere in Ohio, including Lake Erie.

And as most anglers know, the daily bag limit on Lake Erie-caught yellow perch is 30 fish.

“It doesn't happen a lot but it does happen,” Kayle said.

Another proposed change is to lump saugeyes and saugers with walleyes into the daily bag limit for Lake Erie and its tributaries.

The thing is, says, Kayle, with some frequency saugeyes especially have appeared on the stringers of spring-time anglers who are on the hunt to catch walleye from the Maumee River.

Mostly these saugeyes are stragglers from impoundments further up the Maumee River watershed, says Kayle.

Another modification the Wildlife Division is seeking is the allowance of outboard engines of up to 10-hp on 182-acre Highlandtown Lake. Presently only electric motors and hand-propulsion are allowed there, says Kayle.

Further, the Wildlife Division is seeking adding some lakes to the state's list of inland lakes with a 30-per-day limit of crappie.

Meanwhile the limit would go away on other inland lakes. Among them would be Long Lake, part of the Akron-area's popular 1,192-acre Portage Lakes chain.

Still exempted from a daily bag limit of crappie would Pymatuning Reservoir, a system that is jointly managed with Pennsylvania and which uses that state's angling rules for the entire body of water.


A few items impacting hunting also are in the proposed rule change pipeline.

They include restricting wild turkey hunters to carrying no more than one hunting implement.

Another would remove the 3,002-acre B&N Coal Lands from the state's list of wildlife areas open to the public. This request is being made by the B&N Coal Co., the proposed rule change information says.

Of course, citizens are free to exploit the opportunity provided by the open houses. They can do this by chiming in with there own suggestions to the Wildlife Division's ledger of proposed rule changes.

And since I was one of the two persons attending the fisheries research station's open house I filled out a response form with two suggestions.

The first request involves the state's “frog and turtle regulations” and found page 11 of this year's fishing law digest. Here the state says that licensed anglers can shoot frogs or snapping turtles and soft-shelled turtles with long bows (presumably including compound bows) though not crossbows.

My reaction to this exclusion has always been “Why?”

I mean, crossbow have been legal tools for the taking of small-game and big-game animals in Ohio for years and years.

To continue this discriminatory policy after such a lengthy time does not make sense and I doubt can be justified by any stretch of logic, especially since crossbows are legal to use in angling for rough fish.

The second point on my regulatory wish list isn't so much a request for a change in the law.

Rather, it's a plea I've repeatedly made to a few Wildlife Division officials.

Alas, these officials either forgot my verbal request or else stored it in the round file, never to be retrieved - let along alone remembered - and acted upon.

My request: Add the bullhead to the list of eligible Fish Ohio species. The agency doesn't even have to be a hair splitter by differentiating between black, white, yellow (or even purple of there is a purple bullhead).

But the bullhead is about the most ubiquitous game fish species found in Ohio. Big-shouldered rivers and small, lazy-running streams, monstrous lakes to small farm ponds, public waters and private lakes, they all contain robust populations of bullheads.

What's more bullheads are egalitarians about who can catch them. They are taken by ice anglers in the dead of winter, by folks using cane poles with a knot of nightcrawler and even by dedicated bass man flipping the latest soft-plastic bait.

So while I am disappointed the bulk of Ohio's anglers and hunters take a detour around these twice-annual regulation open houses I am thankful the Wildlife Division hosts them.

That is, so long as the agency finally recognizes the legitimacy of my request to add the bullhead to the list of Fish Ohio qualifying fish species.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Ohioans continue to seek concealed carry permits in record numbers

Ohioans continue to apply in record numbers for the opportunity to carry concealed firearms as a means of personal protection.

Mike DeWine – Ohio's Attorney General – released on Thursday the concealed carry license permit statistics for the second quarter of this year.

In all for the period April, May and June, the state's 88 county sheriffs issued 48,032 licenses to citizens, allowing them to carry a concealed firearm.

Besides issuing 32,074 new licenses the sheriffs also issued 15,958 permit renewals, DeWine said.

Both figures represent increases from their first-quarter counterparts. For the period January, February and March of this year the county sheriffs issued 31,407 new licenses and renewed another 6,354 permits, DeWine said.

While county sheriffs do the actual concealed carry permit paperwork by law the Ohio Attorney General maintains the statistics and assembles the figures.

Each person seeking a concealed carry permit is required to attend a multi-hour course and successfully complete an actual hands-on proficiency test with a handgun.

A few exceptions and exemptions exist to this state requirement, however, though such numbers are small.

So far this year the state has seen some slackening in the number of concealed carry permits having been issued.

For the first six months of 2013 the county sheriffs issued 63,481 concealed carry permits. That figure is down slightly from the record year of 2012 when during the first months a total of 64,650 concealed carry permits were issued.

Even so, says DeWine, the 63,481 new license issued were more than for any single year since the program began in 2004, the 2012 statistic of 64,650 permits being excluded.

Broken down for this year's second quarter, for Northeast Ohio, the Ashtabula County's sheriff issued 133 new concealed carry permits and issued 117 renewals, while the Cuyahoga County sheriff issued 515 new permits and issued 299 renewals.

For Geauga County, its sheriff during the second quarter of this year issued 723 new concealed carry permits along with renewing another 614 concealed carry permits.

Lake County's sheriff department was again full mode during the second quarter of 2012. It issued 1,607 new concealed carry permits and authorized 385 renewals.

Thus Lake County once again ranked second in the state in the number of new concealed carry permits having been issued for a three-month quarterly reporting period.
Montgomery County in southwest Ohio ranked Number One during the second quarter in the number of new concealed carry permits issued: 1,750 such documents.

Each of Ohio's 88 county sheriff departments reported issuing new concealed carry permits. The county issuing the fewest number of such documents was Meigs County which issued just 48 new concealed carry permits for the second quarter of 2013.

Other second quarter concealed carry-related statistics assembled by DeWine's office included 285 permits were suspended, 81 permits were revoked, 369 permit applications were denied, and another 18 licenses being processed were suspended for one reason or another.
- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

United Kingdom's bats not affected by white-nose syndrome holds hope for North American species

Now that British biologist have determined the bats in that island nation are immune from white-nose syndrome the next – and most logical - question to ask is “why?”

Follow that one up with the much broader and challenging riddle answer is whether such immunity can be installed in North America's bat population.

An answer is needed, too. White-nosed syndrome has devastated bat colonies throughout the eastern half of the country and is moving westward.
Since 2006 when the disease was first detected an estimated six million North American bats have died from the effects of white-nose syndrome, a figure that not only is growing but one that puts at risk several listed endangered bat species.

To date, white-nose syndrome has been observed in 22 different states' bat colonies.

Ohio is not exempt, either, from the ravages of the cold-loving fungal disease. To date, white-nose syndrome has been found in 16 of Ohio's 88 counties, including 10 counties just this past winter.

White-nose syndrome is a horrible disease. It deprives bats of the need to hibernate. Awakened in the dead of winter because of the fungus' symptoms, infected bats are unable to find a food source (insects) and further become physically weakened.

In a recent BBC article scientists said that white-nose syndrome “has been found in the (United Kingdom) (but) with no harmful effects.”

The story goes on to say how the fungus Psuedogymnoascus destructans has been discovered on a living bat and in soil samples from five sites.

Since no observable bat deaths have cropped up, British scientists opine that the island nation's bats may be “resistant to the fungus.”

Similarly, the fungus has appeared at sites across Europe, “but without (white-nose syndrome) or the associated large numbers of dead bats. It is likely European bats are also immune to the disease.”

A key question that must be answered, says British bat biologists, is whether members of the flying mammalian clan have built up a resistance to the disease or if some other factor is coming into play.

A major worry is that North America's bat species have yet to develop a like resistance to white-nose syndrome and whether they ever will before colony populations crash altogether.

So concerned about the threat imposed by white-nose syndrome, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service scientists are working closely with their counterparts in 28 states to try and get a handle on the perplexing problem.

In June the Fish and Wildlife Service issued nearly $1 million in grants for state projects that directly address the issue.

The Ohio Department of Natural Resources' Division of Wildlife received very nearly the maximum allocation, being awarded $43,000.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

George Zimmerman thanks Ohio gun group for replacement donation

With a gift of more than $12,000 to replace his handgun, Florida block-watch member George Zimmerman has thanked his Ohio benefactors.

Zimmerman, of course, is the Sanford, Fla. Resident who shot and killed 17-year-old Trayvon Martin in a controversial Feb, 26, 2012 incident that raised a series of questions from racial profiling to gun control to the propriety of the so-called “stand your ground” laws.

The-then 28-year-old Zimmerman was later arrested and tried for second degree murder and manslaughter.

He was acquitted of all charges on July 13 by an all-female jury, following a month-long trial that was watched closely. Not only in Florida but the United States as even internationally.

Since Zimmerman was acquitted of all charges his Kel-Tec PF-9 9mm semi-automatic pistol was his rightful property. By Florida law then the police were required to return the handgun to Zimmerman.

However, the U.S. Justice Department intervened and seized all evidence as the federal government mulls its own potentially civil rights case. Among the items turned over to the Justice Department was Zimmerman's handgun.

And that action brought into play the Ohio-based Buckeye Firearms Association and also Foundation. In short order the Foundation raised more than $12,000 so that Zimmerman could purchase a replacement handgun as well as various related accessories.

A Kel-Tec PF-9 retails between $340 and $380.

In appreciation for the Ohio pro-Second Amendment group's activities, Zimmerman's Florida attorney Mark O'Mara noted receipt of the money, that it would be forwarded to his client for the acquisition of not only a replacement pistol for personal protection but also for a home security system.

“George wants to express his sincere appreciation for all of the efforts made on his behalf by members of your Foundation,” O'Mara wrote in a July 29 letter to Ken Hansen with the Buckeye Firearms Foundation.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Monday, August 5, 2013

BREAKING: Most lottery results for Ohio controlled hunts expected Friday

Some Ohio waterfowlers and most deer hunters will learn sooner rather than later whether they hit the special lottery hunt jackpot.

The reason being is that those waterfowlers who applied for an early waterfowl hunt at Wingfoot Lake, Mogadore Reservoir or LaDue Reservoir will need to know quickly whether they were successfully drawn.

Ditto for those deer hunters will sought to hunt at NASA's Plum Brook Station. Here the reason is owed to the required FBI background check prior to being allowed to hunt at the federal reservation.

In all cases, applicants had until July 31 to apply, with the Ohio Division of Wildlife still working to process paper applications.

While most applicants used the agency's on-line process the Wildlife Division still accepted paper ones, which took longer to process; up to three days to complete and given the entire requirements for the program, said Andrew Burt, the agency's licensing coordinator.

“Because of the need for immediate notification, I will perform the draw for all the early season waterfowl and all deer hunts so the results are posted on the customer's account on Friday, August 9,” Burt said.

For the remainder of the controlled waterfowl hunt drawings, Burt said he'll have to wait to run and post the results for them on August 21.

“The (general) waterfowl seasons and dates have not been approved yet through the Wildlife Council, so I cannot run those results until the dates are finalized,” Burt said.

Burt said the Wildlife Council is scheduled to meet Aug. 21 with the hope of posting the lottery results on Monday, Aug. 26.

Burt also said that any applicant who tried to trick the system by applying more than once was no doubt caught, the process including enough trip wires such as requiring one's Social Security Number that any attempt to foil the process would fail.

In a cursory examination of nearly all applications processed, the number of those adults who applied for the controlled deer hunts is down 8.1 percent (23,858 total this year and compared to the 25,973 applicants in 2012.

Meanwhile, applications for the controlled youth deer hunts was up 10.7 percent (5,041 this year verses 4,553 in 2012), and also up for both the women's and mobility impaired deer hunts; a rise of 2.9 percent and comparing the 750 applications this year when compared to the 729 applications in 2012.

Down, however, were the number of applications for the controlled adult waterfowl hunts, off 3.2 percent. Comparisons were the 9,819 applications received this year and compared to the 10,139 such applications processed last year, Burt said.

On the flip side of this coin, though, showed more applications for the controlled youth waterfowl hunts; up 11.7 percent, or 1,352 applications processed this year compared to the 1,210 applications processed in 2012.

Burt says as well that all successfully drawn hunters will receive a letter notifying them of being selected.

For those hunters who simply cannot wait, says Burt, any hunter can access the information by visiting the Wildlife Division's web site at and then logging onto the “Manage Your Account” portal. The page will say either “Successful” or “Unsuccessful.”

Applicants likewise can call the agency's Wildlife Call Center at 800-945-3543 but only between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday.

As for that $3 per application fee every applicant had to pay, $2 went to the Wildlife Division while the other $1 went to the agency's contracted on-line agent.

The annual net income to the Wildlife Division for this program is about $80,000.

That being said, the program is not inexpensive to operate, requiring postage, manpower and program management expenses and the like, notes Burt.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn