Sunday, September 21, 2014

By the numbers: What Ohio's deer hunters can expect based on state's expectations

With the launch of Ohio’s 2014-2015 archery deer-hunting season less than one week away the state’s game biologists are going out on a limb.

 Sure, it’s a pretty big limb and the climb isn’t all that far away from the trunk but the Ohio Division of Wildlife’s deer management specialists are happily making their projections for the state’s various deer-hunting seasons.

More or less, as things shape up, however.

First up is the agency’s position that, regulation-wise, “… the 2014-15 season(s) will be relatively quiet in terms of regulation changes.”

The two chief changes include accepting the well-reasoned and data-strong arguments of seasoned hunters and ballisticians that allowing certain straight-walled rifle calibers is a pretty god idea after all.

And which has led to a run of sorts at area gun shops on available lever-action rifles chambered in .357 Magnum, .44 Magnum, .45-70 Springfield and .444 Marlin calibers.

Far more importantly in the way of deer management, though, is the tweaking of the lower cost antlerless-only deer tags.

Here the Wildlife Division’s white-tail deer management biologists say the agency is seeking to reduce deeper declines in the herds of 44 counties.

Thus in 29 counties where the agency believes “additional antlerless harvest reductions are warranted” hunters will not have the option of using an antlerless-only tag. None, zip, zero, as will be the case this deer-hunting season.

It is all intended to throttle back on the kill of antlerless deer, chiefly the fawn-producing does, the agency says.

Even so, the bag limit won’t change in these counties; hunters will need to buy the more expensive $24 either-sex tags. Which – if Wildlife Division expectations bear fruit – fewer hunters will bother doing, too.

“We believe the removal of the antlerless-permit in these counties will likely have a greater impact on the antlerless harvest than a bag limit reduction,” the Wildlife Division says in defense of this significant deer management change.

Bolstering its own position via statistical analysis and management strategies the Wildlife Division stresses that its research demonstrates that who buys what tag dictates who kills what deer.

Hunters will purchase more than one deer-hunting tag (only about one-third of all Ohio’s deer hunters) will likely conduct a self-study on their buying habits, the agency contends.

Combination deer-tag buyers – or those who bought one either-sex tag and one antlerless-only tag, for instance – “were twice as likely to purchase multiple permits” at the same time.

Conversely, says the Wildlife Division’s deer-management specialists, hunters who buy one either-sex tag work to fill that permit first before deciding to buy a second (or third, or forth) either-sex tag.

Yet the – as many deer hunters say who tag one deer – “the pressure is off” in trying to kill another one, two, three, or whatever white-tail.
“Moreover, if their first deer is a buck, chances are good that they will be done hunting for the year,” the Wildlife Division says.

Stats bear out the Wildlife Division’s interpretation of the data as well. Fully 75 percent of all successful deer hunters killed just one animal last year. That figure dropped significantly to 19 percent of successful hunters killing two animals.

After that the figures fall off the radar screen. Only 5 percent of Ohio’s successful deer hunters last year shot three animals while only 1 percent killed three or more deer.

The bottom line, the Wildlife Division says, is a belief that hunters’ deer tag-buying habits will change. Consequently, with fewer permits expected to be sold then the revised process “…will lead to the intended goal of a reduced antlerless harvest.”

As for as the early two-day antlerless-only/muzzle-loading-only (set for October 11 and 12 this year), the Wildlife Division remains steadfast in its support of this controversial season.

It does so by noting research conducted by the Pennsylvania Game Commission. This agency’s work clearly points to the fact that buck behavior did not artificially become more nocturnal after the conclusion of that state’s antlerless-only/muzzle-loading-only season, Ohio’s wildlife leaders say.

And Pennsylvania’s antlerless-only/muzzle-loading-only season is six days long, not just two days as is the case with Ohio, the Wildlife Division says as well.

For that matter, the Wildlife Division says in reaching for another nail to pound into the “no-to-doe”campaign coffin, the 2013-2014 to-date buck harvest by the archery season’s 33rd day actually exceeded the same to-date 2012-2013 archery season kill by 2 percent.

Furthermore, the Wildlife Division crows: “…this past year’s archery harvest accounted for a record 45% of the total (all seasons’ deer) harvest!”

“The timing of this antlerless-only season is consistent with the Division of Wildlife’s emphasis on the importance of harvesting antlerless deer early in the season verses later in the year; it is more biologically sound, it is easier to differentiate between button bucks and adult does early in the season, and balancing the sex ratio of the herd early in the season can intensify rutting activity,” the Wildlife Division says.

All of this is a prelude, by the way, to what the agency is willing to call for the various 2014-2015 deer-hunting seasons. On that score the agency takes a very short run.

By reducing bag limits in 44 counties and removing the use of antlerless-only tags in 29 counties the Wildlife Division is predicting a 2014-2015 total, all seasons kill of 180,000 to 185,000 deer.

By comparison, for the 2013-2014 all-seasons’ deer kill, 191,503 animals were taken while for the 2012-2013 all-seasons’ deer kill, 218,910 animals were taken.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Euclid Creek is pretty in pink (salmon)

It was a red-letter day September 12 for Cleveland Metroparks’ aquatic biologist Mike Durkalec.

That’s when he and a Cleveland Metroparks assistant were conducting a routine fish species census of the lower Euclid Creek. Not counting tiny feeder arteries, Euclid Creek is a 12-mile-long Lake Erie tributary located in the eastern fringe of Cleveland.

What Durkalec and his assistant found amongst some suckers, minnows and sunfish was a rare catch indeed; a pink salmon that possibly would be a potential new Ohio state record fish for the species.

Pinks are the smallest species of the Pacific salmon family and are only an occasional visitor to Lake Erie streams. Make that an exceptionally uncommon visitor.

Aware of the significance of the large, humped-back, hook- jawed male pink that the electrical jolt shocked to the water’s surface, Durkalec saw to it that the fish was quickly photographed and just as quickly returned alive and unharmed to Euclid Creek.

Durkalec did not want to risk weighing or even measuring the pink salmon, estimating the fish at around 3 ½ pounds and almost certainly in excess of 20 inches.

Ohio’s current state record pink salmon was a fish caught from Conneaut Creek on September 24, 2004 by Andy Janoski. This fish weighed 3.06 pounds and measured 20 1/8 inches.

Not only has Durkalec been with Cleveland Metroparks for nine years he’s been a steelheader for 30 years; and even has caught pinks while fly-fishing the Upper Great Lakes, particularly Michigan’s Gardner River where pinks are far more abundant than in Euclid Creek.

“I even caught one from Arcola Creek, but that was about 20 years ago,” Durkalec said. “But when we recovered this fish during our electro-shocking we gave each other high-fives. It certainly was the most exciting fish in the bunch; a heck of a fish.”

Durkalec and his assistant were combing the waters of lower Euclid Creek as the parks system’s assessment component to a wetlands project within the adjacent Wildwood marina that was completed by the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District.

The marina and the narrow slit of stream are contained within the Wildwood unit of Cleveland Metroparks’ Euclid Creek Reservation. Management of this component - as well as all of the former Cleveland Lakefront State Park - was transferred in June 2013 from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources to Cleveland Metroparks.

And from the mouth of the stream on up to what is locally referred to as the “Fruitland Dam,” located just north of the Ohio Route 2/Interstate 90 bridge, is a popular location for migrating steelhead and accompanying steelhead anglers.

Even so, while steelhead and an odd brown trout or two are hooked here regularly from autumn through spring, no previous reports of a pink salmon being found on any angler’s stringer has been documented.

That detail is not surprising given the rarity of pink salmon being found and caught in the waters of Lake Erie or any of its tributaries, says Kevin Kayle, supervisor for the Ohio Division of Wildlife’s Fairport Harbor Fisheries Research Station.

Kayle likewise supervises the state’s steelhead program.

“In all likelihood this fish came from a stream in the Upper Great Lakes since whenever a pink salmon is encountered in Ohio it is always an adult,” Kayle said. 

“And more than likely where there is one there could be more; that’s a very real possibility.”

Details of the pink salmon’s acquaintance with the Great Lakes began in the 1950s with two small introductions; one believed to be accidental and the other intentional, says the U.S. Geological Survey.

The first is said to have occurred in 1956 when about 100 young pinks were accidentally released into Lake Superior during a transfer between a Thunder Bay, Ontario fish hatchery and a sea plane.

A second release – and this one being intentional, says the U.S. Geological Survey – happened in 1959. That is when approximately 21,000 surplus pink salmon fingerlings that were raised at a Port Arthur, Ontario fish hatchery were subsequently released into the Current River, a Lake Superior tributary.

From these two small fledgling releases a new Great Lakes fisheries was slowly created; a detail that can be tracked via a Geological Survey animated map at

Noting that anglers have flocked to Cleveland Metroparks’ Facebook page to gaze on the two photos, Durkalec understates by saying it’s “an interesting fish.”

That, and then some, as the park district has observed a good deal of angling interest from where it empties into Lake Erie up to the over-powering Fruitland Dam which is insurmountable for any fish.

“It’s nice to see a pink salmon again,” also said Phil Hillman, fish management supervisor for the Ohio Division of Wildlife’s District Three (Northeast Ohio) office in Akron. “It’s been a while since we’ve seen one here in the Ohio waters of Lake Erie and its tributaries.”

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Jeff is the retired News-Herald reporter who  covered the earth sciences, the area's three county park systems and the outdoors for the newspaper. During his 30 years with The News-Herald Jeff was the recipient of more than 100 state, regional and national journalism awards. He also is a columnist and features writer for the Ohio Outdoor News, which is published every other week and details the outdoors happenings in the state.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Ohio pro-gun group announces its 2014 general election endorsements

With the coming of September during a mid-term election cycle, also shepherd the endorsements from special interest groups.

And current State Representative John Rodgers is one of less than a handful of Ohio Democrats to pass muster with the pro-Second Amendment group, the Buckeye Firearms Association’s political action committee (BFA-PAC).

Rogers – the honorable gentleman from Mentor-on-the-Lake – represents Ohio House District 60.

In fact, Rogers is one of only five Democrat House candidates to receive the Buckeye Firearms Association endorsement. The other four endorsed House “D” candidates are Nick Barborak in Ohio House District 5, Heather Bischoff in Ohio District 20, Debbie Phillips in Ohio House District 94, and John Patterson in Ohio House District 99.

Rogers, Barborak, Bischoff, Phillips and Patterson are each ranked “A” by the Buckeye Firearms Association’s PAC.

Only about 64 of the state’s 99 Ohio House district contests also see an endorsement from the Buckeye Firearms Association’s PAC.

Also, the Buckeye Firearms Association only endorsed one Democrat running for the Ohio State Senate. That person would be Joe Schiavonia, who represents Ohio State District 33 and received an A-minus rating.

Likewise, the Buckeye Firearms Association did not endorse and Democrat running for any statewide office, among them being governor, attorney general and Ohio State Supreme Court.

The highest rating awarded by the group is A-plus. No Democrat and only a handful of Republicans earned that score. Among these so-awarded Republicans is incumbent Ohio Secretary of State, John Hustad.

Ohio Governor John Kasich (R) is the recipient of the PAC’s B-plus, by the way.

 Lest anyone think being a Republican means an automatic endorsement from the Buckeye Firearms Association’s PAC group, such a thought is erroneous.

Failure to respond to the firearms group’s survey meant an automatic endorsement rejection, for one thing.

In the words of the Buckeye Firearms Association as relates to its endorsement protocols and processes, this is a portion of the group’s statement. It is significant to note that Buckeye Firearms Association is a single issue entity; that being pro-Second Amendment, commonly called “gun rights:”


“Buckeye Firearms Association is nonpartisan. We do list a candidates’ party affiliation next to their name. Our only consideration is how a candidate measures up on Second Amendment related issues. While we understand that many people have preferences and party affiliation, we as an organization do not.

“Single issue

We are a ‘single issue’ PAC. We understand that many people have other issues that are important to them. We understand that. But just as it would not be right for a pro-life group to endorse on the basis of gay rights issues, it is not appropriate for us to consider anything but Second Amendment rights when issuing our grades and endorsements. We recommend you find other groups that grade candidates on those issues that are important to you. We pride ourselves on being exceptionally accurate on our single issue.”

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Whose dime pays for your 'quake-damaged home? (Or, turning a deaf ear to fracking)

People looking to shake things up in their lives should live in one of two places in Ohio; and they couldn’t be further apart, either.

In an annual study conducted by the independent Ohio Insurance Institute the twin locales for most likely seismic activity is an area that broadly includes Allen, Auglaize, Mercer and Shelby counties in western/southwestern Ohio, and the Northeast tier of Ohio consisting of Geauga, Cuyahoga and (especially) Lake and Ashtabula counties.

Stats employed by the Ohio Insurance Institute are provided by the Ohio Department of Natural Ohio Seismic Network. The network is a series of remote seismic monitoring devices that electronically record and reveal the data on a near real-time basis.

Chronically under-funded and largely staffed by volunteers, the Network survives with a lick, prayer and bailing wire along with whatever federal government funding floats down the grant-supply revenue stream.

Anyway, the data the Network compiles is welded with statistics gleaned by the Ohio Insurance Institute.

Together their picture shows that Ohio recorded 18 tremors in 2011, up from the nine in 2010, and also four-and-one-half times the number recorded in 2009.

Likewise the to-date number of temblors stands at 10. That figure is two more earthquake events recorded during the same time frame in 2013, says the Insurance Institute.

A cost price-point is important to remember as well. That vital piece of news comes about because most general homeowner’s insurance policies do not cover damage resulting from an earthquake.

Thus an Ohio property owner looking for assistance after an earthquake event should weigh heavily purchasing an inexpensive rider to a homeowner’s or property owner’s policy.

And compared to those states where earthquakes are seemingly a daily affair and more volatile to boot, Ohio’s earthquake insurance rates are cheap, too, the Insurance Institute says.

Here is a for instance: In Ohio, earthquake insurance averages about 47 cents per every $1,000 of coverage for a home/building made of brick and masonry. For a wooden structure that cost is even less; about 25 cents per every $1,000.

Run on over to the Pacific Northwest and earthquake insurance there can cost up to $15 per every $1,000 for a brick and masonry structure and up to $3 for a wooden building.

Yes, structures built from brick and such are more expensive to insure than those made by materials cut down by the History Channel’s “Axmen.”

The reason is because buildings constructed of brick typically sustain greater damage than those structures constructed from good old, reliable wood.

Ah, but don’t just yet get all enamored with earthquake insurance. Not if you live in one of those Ohio counties where Gov. John Kasich and his economic bottom-line zealots contend that hydraulic fracturing (fracking) is worth the cost of someone else’s troubles.

Like you if your house starts to rumble and that set of century-old china comes crashing to the floor.

In the case of fracking the Ohio Insurance Institute has determined that 36 percent of surveyed insurance companies operating in Ohio would (or will) exclude earthquake damage that had been determined was caused by fracking.

So there you have it; pay the man now in the form of a cheap to modest earthquake insurance rider or pay the contractor lots more when you are left to pick up the pieces of your tremor-damaged home.

Unless the earthquake event came about as the result of fracking, of course. In which case send the bill to Gov. John Kasich or Ohio Department of Natural Resources Director James Zehringer.

I’m sure either one would enjoy a good laugh.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Jeff is the retired News-Herald reporter who  covered the earth sciences, the area's three county park systems and the outdoors for the newspaper. During his 30 years with The News-Herald Jeff was the recipient of more than 100 state, regional and national journalism awards. He also is a columnist and features writer for the Ohio Outdoor News, which is published every other week and details the outdoors happenings in the state.