Saturday, June 20, 2015

More states accepting Ohio-issued concealed carry licenses

With Texas and four other states aboard, Ohio now has concealed carry reciprocity with a total of 28 other states.

Thus, while Ohio still isn’t Number One in terms of concealed carry weapons permit reciprocity its license recognition is among the best in the country.

Credit for the swelling number of other states that accept Ohio’s issued concealed carry license is due largely to changes in the law. These changes were prompted by a recently enacted law that strengthens background check procedures, says Mike DeWine, Ohio’s attorney general and who officiates over the myriad of matters related to Ohio’s concealed carry law.

Ohio’s revamping of the state’s concealed carry law earlier this year includes mandating county sheriffs to contact the federal government’s National Instant Background Check System in order to verify that a CCW applicant “is lawfully eligible to possess a firearm in the United States,” DeWine said.

“This change allowed us to execute a concealed carry reciprocity agreement with Texas, a state which already had such standards,” DeWine said.

Besides Texas, other states recently merging with Ohio regarding concealed carry reciprocity are Colorado, Georgia, New Hampshire, and Wisconsin.

The enabling reciprocity with these four other states came into play because Ohio accepts their respective CCW license holders under the premise they are not Ohio residents and are in the state on a temporary-only basis, also said DeWine.

Currently the states which have reciprocity agreements with Ohio include the fore-mentioned five states along with Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Delaware, Florida, Idaho, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Missouri, New Mexico, North Carolina, North Dakota, Nebraska, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, and Wyoming.

Concealed carry laws are complex with a labyrinth of can-do’s and cannot-do’s. Thus a number of other states allow Ohio residents to carry concealed and even though no formal reciprocity agreement exists between the two states.

Among the states that allow non-residents to carry concealed but without an official reciprocity agreement secured are Nevada, Minnesota, and Montana.

Also, just where and when a CCW holder may carry varies so greatly from state to state that travelers are urged to first contact any state’s issuing authority.

To that end an excellent resource is the annually updated 68-page “Traveler’s Guide to the Firearm Laws of the Fifty States” and authored by Kentucky attorney J. Scott Kappas.

“Traveler’s Guide” is a thoroughly researched and comprehensively laid out  document that strives to analytically understand and then describe in layman’s terms the ever-evolving CCW permitting landscape.

This publication costs $15 and is updated each year. The 2015 edition alone contains some 75 changes and updates. For details, visit the book’s website at or call 859-491-6400.

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.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Can't be picked unless you apply for an Ohio controlled deer/waterfowl hunt

Even with nearly a quarter-century years worth of preference points – plus this year’s pay-up-front $15 application entry – I still failed to draw a permit for a state of Maine moose-hunting license.

Maine holds an annual lottery for such tags, applicants choosing which district they would like to hunt, which period within the season, and whether you’d like a permit for a bull or a cow. If the sexual preference as to the tag I’d prefer is applicable, of course.

In my case I spell out my ideal choices but always check off the hail-Mary clause when asked if I would take anything, anywhere and for any moose.

Well, darn, tootin’, I note, not that it so obviously has done me any good. Fact is I once calculated, and while employing data provided by Maine’s Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife that I could be 125 years old before the odds actually favor my name being drawn.

I’ve read stories that say a Maine non-resident’s chances of drawing a Maine moose tag are anywhere from three percent to all the way up to eight percent.

Though I doubt that I’d be able to hunt moose (or much of anything else) another 60 years from now I will continue to apply for the opportunity to draw a Maine moose-hunting tag.

However the odds of being picked for one of Ohio’s managed-controlled lottery deer hunts are not seemingly much better, either. Nor do I hold my breath in anticipation when I apply for a controlled waterfowl hunt.

Applications for each are now being accepted by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources’ Division of Wildlife. And which will continue to accept said applications through July 31.

Each lottery drawing application requires a non-refundable $3 fee. For (general) adults the Wildlife Division has eight different deer hunts and five different waterfowl hunts.

The agency also has established two women-principally deer hunts, three mobility-impaired-only deer hunts, two early waterfowl season hunts, 11 youth-only deer hunts, four youth-only waterfowl hunts, three mentored youth deer hunts, and six youth mentored waterfowl hunts.

Not all of the hunts are created equal in the eyes of the odds bookie, either.

Maybe the odds of being selected for a controlled Ohio deer hunt are better than being picked for a Maine moose-hunting tag but the process is such that failure to be selected is the rule and not the exception.

A couple of 2014 adult deer hunts with the greatest odds against being selected were the Mercer Wildlife Area Archery Hunt (odds of being selected were one in 73), and the Transportation Center Adult Antlerless Deer Gun Hunt (odds of being picked were one in 111).

Okay so those two special hunts didn’t have either many slots or applicants.

Even so, the popularity of applying for a NASA Plum Brook Station deer gun hunt was enough in 2014 that many came but few were chosen. Last year 4,695 people applied for a permit to deer hut at Plum Brook though only 336 were randomly plucked by a computer. That places the odds of being selected at one in 14.

Meanwhile 2,350 people applied for an Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge deer hunt last year though just 25 were picked for odds of one in 94.

The ever-popular Ravenna Arsenal adult deer gun hunt continues to be – well – ever popular with applicants. Last year 4,798 people (the largest number for any of Ohio’s many controlled hunts) applied but only 176 folks were lucky with the odds being one in 28.

Similarly 3,546 people applied to hunt the Mosquito Creek Refuge during the statewide muzzle-loading season but a paltry 150 names were spat out by the computer. That placed selection odds of one in 24.

For adults being selected for a waterfowl hunt are really not all that good either. Last year 2,363 adults applied to hunt ducks and geese at Magee Marsh though only 192 were picked. And thus the odds were one in 13, the same odds of being selected at the adjacent Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge.

Over at the Mosquito Creek Refuge, 1,426 people applied for 120 permits with the odds of being selected in 2014 at one in 12.

The waterfowl hunts at Pickerel Creek are popular as well with 1,352 people applying for the (yikes!) 40 slots with the odds of being selected at the why-bother-applying one in 34.

Alas, the growth of youth hunting, women hunting and even hunting by folks with some form of serious mobility issues also has led to long odds of being picked.

For example, 244 women applied to hunt during the Killdeer Plains deer hunt established for them though just 18 females were picked. That placed the odds of being selected at one in 14.

And for the youth deer gun hunt at the Wildlife Division’s Hebron Hatchery, 107 youngsters applied but only two were selected. Thus the odds of being picked were one in 54.

Still, unless one applies one can never win. This is why I’ll go through the list of Ohio’s select, controlled deer and waterfowl hunts and then decide which ones I want to drop $3 in order to apply for a permit. And pretty much full-well knowing that I won’t be picked for any of them, of course.

Then again, come next February I’ll get a notification from Maine that it’s time to apply for that state’s annual moose tag lottery. And without hesitation I’ll send a check for $15 to that state’s treasurer.

Such is the stuff that dreams are made of.

For further information about Ohio’s deer and waterfowl hunting lottery program, review what is available and electronically enter an application, visit the Ohio Division of Wildlife’s web site at

Persons may also call 800-945-3543 in order to be provided with a paper application.

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.


Monday, June 15, 2015

Federal Judge tosses Brown County Five's $2 million suit against prosecutor

In a legal saga that seems endless a federal judge has – at least for the moment – closed the books on what’s often been called “The Brown County Five” incident.

Federal Judge Gregory L. Frost of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio, Eastern Division, issued on June 4th a 13-page summary judgment in favor of Brown County Prosecutor Jessica Little.

That judgment was in response to a $2 million lawsuit brought against Little on January 28th, 2014 by five current and previous Ohio Division of Wildlife officials. These officials included former agency chief David Graham along with former agency assistant chief Randy Miller, Wildlife Division human resources manager Michelle Ward-Tackett, former agency law enforcement supervisor James Lehman, and Todd Haines, supervisor for the agency’s District Five (southwest Ohio) office.

Broken down, the suit included $1 million each for compensatory and punitive damages along with attorney fees.

The Brown County Five suit was prompted by Little bringing felony charges in 2010 against the crew for a matter related to Allan Wright, the former Wildlife Division officer assigned to Brown County.

It was an investigation led by the Ohio Inspector General in 2009 that eventually prompted Little to say the five then-defendants should have disciplined Wright more seriously than with just administrative punishment.

In 2006 Wright allowed an out-of-state fish and game officer to falsely use his address in order to obtain an Ohio resident hunting license.

But the legal case impacting the five Wildlife Division officials see-sawed back and forth through the court system until the Ohio State Supreme Court ruled May 29th, 2013 that the-then defendants were sheathed under the so-called Garrity Rule.

This point of law shields government workers against being required to testify against themselves in the course of an investigation; and in the case of the Brown County Five that investigation was conducted by the Ohio Inspector General.

As a result of the State Supreme Court ruling, Little had no other recourse but to dismiss the charges against the Brown County Five.

Also named as defendants in the Brown County Five’s lawsuit were the Ohio Inspector General as well as the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.

And in another twist to this convoluted matter, OIG deputy inspector general Ron Nichols - who was the lead bird dog in the Brown County Five case - was found to have violated state ethics rules on June 5th for accepting a job with the Natural Resources Department while actively engaged in investigations related to the department.

Once Nichols found that accepting the job was a violation of state ethics rules he did not assume his duties with the Natural Resources Department, however.

Also, the Columbus City prosecutor did not find that Nichols had compromised any of his investigations to secure either a job interview or employment with the Natural Resources Department.

Even so, Nichols has agreed not to seek a job with the Natural Resources Department for two years as well as take additional ethics law training.

In ruling for Little - who filed a motion for the lawsuit to be dismissed, -Judge Frost said the prosecutor simply was doing her job; that she did not “engage in the alleged misconduct and that, even if she did, her actions were within the scope of her duties in initiating and pursuing a criminal prosecution.”

“The Court concludes that Little is absolutely immune from liability for any of the alleged misconduct,” Judge Frost said in his ruling.

Even though the five current or former Wildlife Division officials can still seek judicial relief through the federal appellate court system, Little says she’s thrilled with Judge Frost’s ruling.

Little issued a statement regarding Judge Frost’s ruling stating she “… complied with all professional obligations relative to the plaintiffs.”

“Accordingly, she (Little) vigorously defended herself against their meritless claims,” the release said as well.

“I’m just glad it’s over so I can devote more time to the citizens of Brown County,” Little said in a follow-up conversation with this reporter.

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.


Saturday, June 13, 2015

Fishing the Mentor Lagoons is the Real McCoy with long-time fishing friend

Mike McCoy had at least three legitimate excuses for why the Mentor Lagoons’ largemouth bass were being so tight-lipped.

And the professional bass angler (  from Mentor could have added a forth if the blizzard of cottonwood duff drifting into the lagoons’ water were part of the long addition tabulation that included a contrary northeast breeze, the passing of a late spring cold front along with the fishes’ biologically explainable post-spawn lethargy.

“It’s not like the last time we fished the Lagoons, is it?” McCoy asked as he dumped with oh-so-perfect-pitch a drop-shot bait into a Lagoons boat slip alley.

True enough, and it was something that had played on both of our minds for the past two years.

Between some serious nasty health issues and some seriously nasty resolution treatments my ability to fish the storied 450-acre Lagoons complex with McCoy was at low tide.

Similarly McCoy’s been busy moving up the chain of command with a full-time executive type job, raising a family and working on perfecting his craft as a part-time professional bass-fishing angler.

Yeah, I know, “part-time” and “professional” do sound like an oxymoron, but it is an applicable merge for McCoy - and a lot of other anglers for that matter - trying to stake a claim on being able to declare some fishing-related prize money on their annual 1040 federal income tax form.

Truth is, our Lagoons’ bass fishing has been as much about the fishing as it has been about the catching.

“Shame we couldn’t do it over the Memorial Day weekend,” McCoy said.

E-yep on that score, too. In the past – and I do believe that past numbered at least four times; maybe five times – our outings always fell somewhere within the Memorial Day holiday’s three-day bracket.

This year’s outing came a couple of weekends later; a Sunday morning exactly. Now, normally and usually I don’t do much hunting and fishing on Sunday morning, though they’re not especially rare events, either.

A special dispensation was made in this particular case because McCoy and I had skipped out of the past two Memorial Day holidays because of the fore-mentioned issues.

So we met at the Lagoons’ boat ramp at 7 a.m., climbed aboard McCoy’s Ranger bass boat and proceeded to flip and pitch plastic baits into every likely looking Lagoons boat slip cubbyhole or another. And there are a lot of them, too, with the Lagoons being one of the entire Great Lakes’ largest natural harbors.

A very long time ago the Lagoons’ natural harbor features were surrendered to the placement of boat slips. Many of these slips lie horizontally to the Lagoons’ fingers. Meanwhile, many other slips were dimpled into the Lagoons’ earthen fabric, creating natural fishy hiding holes, bass egg-laying nursery waters and post-spawn recovery rooms.

A component of the expansive 450-acre Mentor Lagoons Nature Preserve and Marina, the boating part has always something of a white elephant ever since its purchase by the city of Mentor in 1997 for $8.9 million.

It’s aging infrastructure is in dire need of repair and a study done for the city said it would take $27 million to repair the dikes, bulkheads and such that form the human-induced changes to the Lagoons’ natural harbor features.

Operated at a loss of more than $524,000 annually the City simply can’t keep managing the Lagoons at such a high cost.

Still, the largemouth bass found here – just like the crappie, the sunfish, the freshwater drum, the carp, the northern pike, the bowfin, and even the smallmouth bass that hang around the Lagoons’ Lake Erie outskirts – no even less about what’s going to happen than do Mentor’s city fathers and mothers.

Nope, the Lagoons’ largemouth have enough to worry about just laying eggs and guarding the fry from other hungry bass.

Plus dealing with the likes of McCoy who relishes each opportunity to pitch soft plastics into the Lagoons’ scooped-out hollows or toss a grub or hard plastic bait parallel to any bulkhead not converted to a dock space.

 According to McCoy, the Lagoons have become such a magnet for bass anglers that it’s one way point on a special and still-small Lake Erie largemouth bass fishing circuit. And (I believe) also a stop on a newly formed kayak bass-fishing tournament circuit.

I wasn’t paying as much attention to that part of McCoy’s address as I should have; I’m a bit ashamed to say.

Mostly I was pitching my own drop-shot rigs, the top hook tied with a palamor knot about 12 to 15 inches above a ¼-ounceblack-colored jig. The top hook held a four-inch Berkley Gulp minnow while the jig was a fixture for a four-inch-long Zoom Dead Ringer/curly-tailed soft plastic worm (my favorite when poured in watermelon seed finish).

So we talked as we fished, pitching our offerings underneath the wooden eves added by some of the Lagoons’ 500 or so dock renters. Other times we flipped our baits into the corners of the Lagoons’ unoccupied and even, occupied alcoves.

None of the boaters who were up and at ‘em that Sunday morning cared all that much that we were using their rented space for our fishing pleasure. Those that paid a mind would simply ask how we were doing and a few of them even offered suggestions.

We picked up some fish, for sure; a half-dozen bass or maybe a few more, a couple of eating-sized crappie and one whopper of a freshwater drum that first fooled McCoy into thinking he finally had hooked a photo-worthy bass.

Or maybe even a good-sized northern pike. That happened a short number of days earlier when McCoy had taken out a local bass-fishing tournament director.

We also spoke about McCoy’s desire to become a full-time professional bass angler, an itch that he’s been scratching for several years and for which the salve likely will prove to be a high-ranking tournament win on a BASS tournament trail stop.

McCoy has begun the equal need and probably even more difficult challenge of feathering his fishing nest with the all-important sponsorships that provide a steady stream of paychecks.

Among the ones McCoy has lined up include long-time hitching post Ardent rods and reels, Hobie Sunglasses, Middlefield Village-based Flambeau as well as the likes of Frogg togs, LubriMatic, PowerPole, Z Man plastic baits, Great Lakes Tactical, Rat-L-Trap hard baits, and Picasso Lures.

Newly arrived is Cleveland Whiskey.

“That’s in product,” McCoy said with a wry smile.

McCoy also is closely working with a Mentor-based company that has an angling sidebar product line called “Fish Allure.” These are scented adhesive back amino acid-impregnated scented taps that can be attached to hard baits. The amino acids are released only when exposed to water with the scent lasting up to one hour, says McCoy.

All in all, the Fish Allure concept is a pretty cool idea.

Then again, so is our (mostly anyway) annual Memorial Day Or Close Enough Mentor Lagoons bass-fishing outing.

Maybe next time the bass will be more cooperative. And if not, well, that’s okay, too. Just catching up with the always engaging McCoy and learning about his upward climb in the world of professional angling is about as fine a ways to spend quality time with a friend as this gimpy and aging angler can handle.
By Jeffrey L. Frischkorn


Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Lake Metroparks takes unilateral action to help prevent avian flu outbreak

After the Ohio Department of Agriculture has failed to respond to its inquiries Lake Metroparks has acted unilaterally in how it will exhibit its dozen permanent resident raptors.

This, as a result of an Agriculture Department edict issued June 2nd. This ruling calls for restricting the display of birds in an effort to help contain any threat from the nearly always fatal avian flu to Ohio’s expansive poultry industry.

Ohio ranks second in the nation for chicken egg production. The state also is home to 28 million laying hens, 12 million broilers, 8.5 million poults (young chickens), as well as two million turkeys.

This substantial farm-related industry is worth $2.3 billion and employs more than 14,600 people, the state Agriculture Department has said.

Agricultural interests and related government bodies have much to fear from the viral avian flu. Since December 2014, the country has experienced avian flu outbreaks in more than 21 states.
These cases run the gamut from farm-raised poultry to wild birds, large commercial farms to backyard breeders, says the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Though little risk exists for humans, the disease has shown a propensity to morph, the World Health Organization says as well.
And as a result, it is possible – granted, still remote - for the disease to make the leap from birds to man, WHO says.

Thus from Ohio’s widely popular county fairs to the Ohio State Fair - as well as livestock auctions, poultry contests and the like - the no-show order will go on.

However, far less certain are the educational activities of individuals, organizations and governmental agencies which employ captive birds which for one reason or another cannot be returned to the wild.

This soft spot in the Agriculture Department’s umbrella ruling has led to confusion regarding how a licensed animal rehabilitator can display resident/captive birds for educational purposes.

For the Ohio Department of Natural Resources’ Division of Wildlife its interpretation means the agency will not put on display its cache of wild birds at the up-coming Ohio State Fair, July 29 to August 9, says Scott Zody, the Wildlife Division’s chief.

And although Lake Metroparks had reached out to the Ohio Department of Agriculture for clarification the state has yet to respond, says a Lake Metroparks official.

Consequently, Lake Metroparks has taken the bull by the horns - or in this case - the hawk by the talons.

“The Ohio Department of Agriculture still has not returned our call,” said Tom Adair, Lake Metroparks’ director of park planning. “As we wait, we have decided that we will not risk the health of the birds in our care so we will only transport and display non-avian species at the Ohio State Fair and county fairs this year.”

Adair said also that Lake Metroparks maintains 12 permanent resident raptors which are – and which will continue to be - on display at the agency’s Kevin P. Clinton Wildlife Center, located within the parks system’s 424-acre Penitentiary Glen Reservation in Kirtland.

On the 12 birds that Lake Metroparks holds in licensed trust, seven are used for travel programs, which number at around 200 annually, Adair said as well.

“We are doing this proactively and we anticipate that the ban should not impact us beyond our programming at fairs,” Adair said.

“Most of these programs won’t be affected by this ban; really, only those programs which could bring our birds into contact with other wild birds or domesticated birds at various agricultural sites such as the Ohio State Fair and county fairs,” Adair said.

Visitors to the Wildlife Center can still view for free Lake Metroparks’ 25 so-named “wildlife ambassadors,” including all 12 avian raptors. Hours for the Wildlife Center are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., daily.

A similar inquiry has been presented to the Cleveland Museum of Natural History as to how that institution is reacting to the Ohio Department of Agriculture’s June 2nd order.

Like Lake Metroparks, the Natural History Museum also is licensed to permanently care for wildlife that cannot be returned to the wild and exhibits these creatures for educational purposes.

Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

 Jeff Frischkorn 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.

Saturday, June 6, 2015

New Ohio state record hybrid striped bass: First new hook-and-line state record fish in three years

A new Ohio record hybrid striped bass - a cross between a white bass and a striped bass and also called a "wiper" - has been certified by the Outdoor Writers of Ohio's State Record Fish Committee.

The new state record hybrid striper, weighing 18.32 pounds, was caught by Richard A. Knisley of Washington Court House, Ohio in a feeder creek to 1,301-acre Deer Creek Lake in Fayette and Pickaway counties.

Deer Creek Lake is not to be confused with the much smaller 334-acre Deer Creek Reservoir in Stark County.

Knisley caught the hybrid striped bass May 24, 2015, using cut shad for bait, on a spinning rod with 15 pound test monofilament line. The hybrid striped bass measures 31.75 inches long and 24.5 inches in girth. 

His catch replaces the previous state record hybrid striper. That fish was caught in Deer Creek Lake by Rosemary Shaver on May 4, 2001. It weighed 17.68 pounds and measured 31 inches long.

Ohio's record fish are determined on the basis of weight only.

Ohio's state record fish are certified by the Outdoor Writers of Ohio State Record Fish Committee with assistance from fisheries biologists with the Ohio Division of Wildlife.

Fish Management Supervisor Debra Walters from the Ohio Division of Wildlife's District Five Office (southwest Ohio) in Xenia confirmed the identification of Knisley's catch as being a hybrid striped bass.

The Outdoor Writers of Ohio is the only such entity that maintains any state record fish list, a project that began decades ago when Ohio did not have a program honoring best-of state record fish.

Also, Knisley's wiper is the first new Ohio state record fish caught this year. No state record fish was taken in 2014. In fact the last new state record fish recorded by OWO was the current bow-fishing entry for the buffalo sucker, a fish taken Oct. 11, 2013.

The last hook-and-line new state record fish was the brown trout, taken July 14, 2012, or nearly three years ago.

Ohio's oldest state record fish is the 1.97 pound rock bass, caught September 3, 1932. Yep, that's 83 years ago.

For more information regarding Ohio's state record fish program, contact Fred Snyder, Chairman, OWO State Record Fish Committee, 754 Co. Rd. 126, Fremont, OH 43420, or phone (419) 332-0777.

Also, email Snyder at or visit the group's web site to see a complete list of Ohio's state record fish at

Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Unintended consequences of State Agriculture Department's "No Bird Display" edict

The Ohio Department of Agriculture’s ban on all live bird exhibitions is a net casted much broader than the agency ever imagined.

Included – maybe, or maybe not – are educational programs featuring captive wild birds by properly licensed individuals, organizations and such agencies as Lake Metroparks, the Cleveland Museum of Natural History and others.

Announced Tuesday, June 2, the Agricultural Department’s ban is intended to curb the threat of an avian flu outbreak that would threaten Ohio’s $2.3 billion poultry industry.

Consequently, the Agriculture Department took the unprecedented step of banning all public and private “exhibitions” of birds of all kinds.

This massive coverage was designed to prohibit displaying chiefly live poultry at the Ohio State Fair and the state’s various county fairs. Included, too, are farm-related auctions that often feature the selling of such various domesticated birds as ducks, geese, chickens and turkeys.

However, so broad is the ruling that those wildlife rehabilitators who have birds that cannot be returned to the wild are maybe, possibly, likely, also included in the “no exhibition” ban.

Already captured is the Ohio Department of Natural Resources' Division of Wildlife.

Scott Zody - the Wildlife Division's chief says his agency will not be able to exhibit is cache of captive wild birds at the up-coming Ohio State Fair because of the Agriculture Department's ruling.

“It’s a complicated question and is one that we’re trying to wrap our heads around,” said Agriculture Department spokeswoman Erica Hawkins.

More than anything else, Hawkins says, is the need to minimize potential exposure to the avian flu virus to Ohio’s poultry-raising industry.

Hawkins says Ohio ranks second in the nation for chicken egg production. The state also is home to 28 million laying hens, 12 million broilers, 8.5 million poults (young chickens), as well as two million turkeys.

This substantial farm-related industry is worth $2.3 billion and employs more than 14,600 people, Hawkins says.

Thus the need to protect Ohio’s flock of domesticated fowl. All of which is highlighted by the fact that since late 2014 more than 44 million birds at more than 197 locations have been infected, Hawkins also says.

Even so, while the Agriculture Department’s sweeping “no exhibition” edict was initially designed to address the matter of show-and-sell county fairs, swap meets, animal auctions and such, it’s the rule’s unintended consequences that leaves the agency unsure as to how broad to interpret its own edict.

“What we are concerned with is the moving of (domesticated) birds where a whole bunch of people take them to a fair, sell them with the birds then going all over the place,” Hawkins says. “That’s why we are concerned.”

Even so, Hawkins admits, the Agriculture Department was taken aback; not even considering the ruling’s possible impact on wildlife rehabilitators who care for birds that cannot be returned to the wild but are used in educational outreach programming.

Left unsure, too, is if the Agriculture Department’s rule impacts those individuals licensed as falconers and whether they can move about the state with their hawks and other birds of prey.

For now, then, while the use of captive birds by licensed rehabilitators for educational outreach programming beyond their permanent residences is not prohibited neither is it encouraged, Hawkins says.

“I can live with that,” Hawkins said.

Lake Metroparks says it is waiting to hear officially from the Agriculture Department for direction.

. “We’re at the Agriculture Department’s mercy,” said Tom Adair, Lake Metroparks’ parks services’ director.

This story will be updated as further rule clarification becomes available.

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.