Friday, September 30, 2016

Ohio's deer kill numbers slip during first days of the archery hunting season

Even with pleasant weather and an abundant crop of whitetails, a decline in the deer kill was noted in the first four days of Ohio’s archery deer-hunting season.

Based on data provided by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources’ Division of Wildlife, the state’s archery deer hunters killed 4,006 animals from September 24th (opening day) through Tuesday, September 27th, of which 2,752 animals were antlerless with the remainder being bucks.

For the first reporting session in 2015, Ohio’s archery hunters killed 4,587 animals, of which 3,111 were antlerless deer and the remainder being bucks.

The top counties so far in terms of deer kill (with their respective 2015 to-date figures in parentheses) are: Ashtabula – 158 (160); Trumbull – 156 (162); Licking – 127 (168); Coshocton – 118 (94); Lorain – 105 (123); Knox – 100 (110).

Every one of Ohio’s 88 counties reported deer as being killed, though the displayed kill figures for the bottom bunch were in single digits.  Those counties – with their respective to-date 2015 kills in parentheses – and in alphabetical order - were: Henry -  five (nine); Madison – six (18); Van Wert – seven (four).

Other noteworthy counties with year-to-year comparisons (with their respective to-date 2015 kills in parentheses) were:  Adams County – 72 (123); Lake County – 47 (46); Cuyahoga County – 79 (48); Franklin County – 28 (49); Geauga County – 72 (78); Harrison County – 64 (70); Hocking County – 62 (86); Media County – 72 (89); Muskingum County – 81 (79);  Portage County – 92 (91); Richland County – 86 (79); Brown County – 41 (52); Clermont County – 69 (106); and Tuscarawas County – 77 (96).

Ohio’s archery deer-hunting season – easily and by far one of the nation’s longest – runs until February 5th.
Last year Ohio’s deer hunters killed a total of 188,329 animals of which 84,530 whitetails were taken by archery tackle.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Tree stand safety is the hunter's responsibility

The following isn’t my handwriting but it’s certainly of important value now that Ohio has begun its long archery deer-hunting season.

The information involves tree stand safety: a vital and potentially life-saving topic for any deer hunter who climbs higher than a footstool above the ground.

And as a person forbidden on orders from every doctor I see, my physical therapist along with Bev, my wife, to ever again enjoy the view from a tree ladder stand I pass this information along for your continued participation in our beloved sport.

Ladies and gentlemen, a fall from a tree stand is seldom pretty and as likely as not will result in injury and possibly, death.

Here, then is some sound tree stand safety advice presented by the Treestand Manufacturers Association via TenPoint Crossbows of Akron.

Accident Statistics from 1998-2005

  • 82% of hunters were not wearing any fall restraint.
  • 75% of the falls were with hunters between the ages of 30 and 60 or an average age of 44.
  • The average distance the hunter fell was 21.4 feet.
  • 10% of the accidents involved home-made stands.
  • One of 3 hunters will fall from a tree stand at some point during their hunting careers.


You should ALWAYS reference an owner's manual for safety tips on your specific stand, but here are some general tips as well that will help you this fall.

  • ALWAYS wear and properly use a Full Body Fall Arrest Harness System (FBFAHS) that meets stringent, industry standards recognized by TMA. Wear an FBFAHS every time you leave the ground, including while ascending or descending.
  • ALWAYS attach your FBFAHS in the manner and method described by the manufacturer. The tether should not have slack when sitting. Failure to properly attach your FBFAHS may cause you to be suspended without the ability to climb back into your tree stand. Be aware of the hazards associated with hanging suspended in a FBFAHS since prolonged suspension in a harness may be fatal.
  • ALWAYS read and understand the manufacturer's WARNINGS and INSTRUCTIONS before using a tree stand and FBFAHS each season. 

  • ALWAYS use a haul line to raise your backpack, gear, unloaded firearm or bow to your tree stand once you have reached your desired hunting height. Never climb with anything in your hands or on your back. Prior to descending, lower your equipment on the side of the tree opposite of your descent route.

  • ALWAYS practice using your FBFAHS in the presence of a responsible adult prior to using it in an elevated hunting environment, and learn what it feels like to hang suspended in the harness at ground level.

  • ALWAYS have a plan in place for rescue, including the use of cell phones or signal devices that may be easily reached and used while suspended. If rescue personnel cannot be notified, you must have a plan for recovery or escape. If you have to hang suspended for a period of time before help arrives, exercise your legs by pushing against the tree or doing any other form of continuous motion. Failure to recover in a timely manner could result in serious injury or death. 
  • If you do not have the physical ability to recover or escape, hunt from the ground. (JLF note – Amen to that! I’ve been doing this for several years and take multiple animals every hunting season. It can be done.)

-       Jeffrey L. Frischkorn


Sunday, September 25, 2016

Lake Metroparks looks to hunters to help "organically" feed orphaned bobcat

Lake Metroparks is looking to go organic in order to help care for an approximately seven-month-old female bobcat entrusted to its care.
The orphaned bobcat was around two to three weeks old when the Ohio Department of Natural Resources’ Division of Wildlife requested that Lake Metroparks’ licensed wildlife rehabilitation unit take care of the animal until it is old enough to be returned to the wild.

Presently the female bobcat is secured at the parks system’s Kevin P. Clinton Wildlife Center, located within the agency’s Penitentiary Glen Reservation in Kirtland.
It will stay there with minimal human contact until May of next year when it is expected to be released back into the wild in Athens County, parks officials are saying.

In the meantime the bobcat continues to grow rapidly in its outdoor enclosure which allows the animal to “exhibit its natural behaviors, such as running, climbing, jumping, stalking prey, getting used to outdoor sights, smells, sounds, and so on,” says the center’s head , Tammy O’Neil.

“This enclosure is off limits to public display in order to eliminate any unnecessary interaction with people,” O’Neil said also.

In an effort to offer her natural prey as much as possible, the parks system is requesting that the lottery selected/permitted deer hunters on Lake Metroparks properties consider donating various parts of the whitetail deer they shoot like muscle tissue along with the liver and heart to help feed the bobcat, says Jackie Young with the Lake Metroparks ranger department.

“She will end up eating about two to three pounds a day as she gets bigger,” Young said.

“We will also accept whole legs with the skin intact so she can practice tearing the hide. Additionally, the Nature Center will accept any other game such squirrel, rabbit, waterfowl, doves, fish that may be hunted or fished outside of Lake Metropark properties.”

However, it is equally important to note that if such small game is being donated that it not have been taken with lead shot, pellets or bullets since that sort of metallic material is considered toxic and could harm the bobcat, says the parks system’s executive director, Paul Palaygi.

Last year the Wildlife Center successfully raised two orphaned bobcats that are now back in their natural habitat.

Those hunters and anglers interested in making a donation of game please contact O’Neil at 440-256-1404, Ext. 2135.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Friday, September 23, 2016

High bacteria levels force temporary closure of Lake Metroparks' Canine Meadows' dog-swimming pond

Lake Metroparks has temporarily closing the agency’s 1.84-acre Farmpark dog park swimming hole in Kirtland in an effort to eliminate the risk of exposure to excessively high  water-borne bacteria levels.

Following routine bacterial testing at the Farmparks’ “Canine Meadows Dog Park,” located on Chardon Road (Route 6) and adjacent to the Lake Metroparks Farmpark, it was determined that e. coli bacteria levels were at dangerously high levels.

Acceptable levels for such bacterial testing is 500 colony forming units (CFU) while the most recent testing by the private pond management firm hired by Lake Metroparks showed a level of around 1,300 colony forming units.

Consequently, says Lake Metroparks’ executive director Paul Palaygi, the fenced –in area that encompasses the pond area will remain closed until “bacteria levels drop back to safe levels.”

“We believe this was an appropriate measure,” Palaygi said. “Really, this is not a bad thing; I’m a dog owner, too, and I would be surprised if any dog owner would object to what we have done.”

Also, this section is also closed during the winter when the pond has a layer of thin ice that would pose a risk to any dog or person attempting to walk on the surface, Palaygi said.

Palaygi  said that the pond’s high bacteria levels probably came about due to a multitude of inter-connected issues. Continued high temperatures and a lingering drought likely hardened the ground. When the recent heavy rains arrived several days ago the resulting run-off flushed bacteria-growing medium into the pond.

However, Palaygi did say that just the fenced-in area containing the pond – which is up to 12-feet deep – will be closed. Remaining open are the Canine Meadows Dog Park’s fenced-in 2.57-acre large dog area and the park’s 1.84-acre small dog area.

General Lake Metroparks rules for the agency’s Canine Meadows Dog Park are:

  • Users of the dog park do so at their own risk.
  • Parents/legal guardians assume all risk for their children. It is recommended that children younger than 12 stay outside of the fenced areas for their own protection.
  • Dog owners are responsible for any injury or damage caused by their dog, per state law.
  • All Lake Metroparks rules apply and must be observed.
  • Each dog must display current license and rabies tags on its collar per state law.
  • No dogs larger than 35 pounds are permitted in the small dog area.
  • Dogs in heat are not allowed.
  • Sick or injured dogs are not permitted in the dog park, nor a dog that has been declared dangerous or vicious per state law.
  • Dogs that have been designated as dangerous or vicious per state law may NOT enter the park. A handler shall immediately leash and remove a dog that becomes aggressive. Criminal penalties apply for bringing a dangerous or vicious dog into this park.
  • Dogs must be closely supervised and within sight and voice control of their handler at all times.
  • All dog handlers must be at least 18 years old or supervised by an adult. No more than three dogs per handler.
  • Dog bites to other dogs or people shall be reported immediately to the Lake Metroparks Rangers at 440-354-3434. Handlers must provide their dog’s name, license number and veterinarian’s name to a ranger upon request.
  • Dogs are to be brought to the park on leashes and released inside the designated off-leash area, and put under the control of own leash again as they exit the off-leash area. Retractable leashes are not recommended.
  • Muzzles, spike or prong collars are NOT permitted on dogs in the park.
  • Dog waste must be picked up immediately by the handler and placed in the trash cans. Handlers who fail to do so may be cited for littering.
  • Animals other than dogs are NOT permitted.
  • People food and dog treats of any kind are NOT permitted ─ food and treats can trigger fights between dogs.
  • Glass containers, bicycles, strollers or children’s toys are NOT permitted.
  • Fishing and swimming by humans is NOT permitted.
  • Due to the nature of the facility, pets are not permitted into Lake Metroparks Farmpark.
By Jeffrey L. Frischkorn


Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Ohio's deer-motor vehicle accidents rose 7% in 2015; caused four fatalities

From does bumping Dodges to bucks taking on Buicks, the number of deer-motor vehicle incidents in Ohio rose seven percent in 2015 over 2014.

Based on data profiled in an annual report compiled by a joint task forth, last year Ohio saw 21,061 deer-motor vehicle incidents – the most since 2011 when the state saw 22,696 such occurrences. This task force consists of  the Ohio Highway Patrol, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources’ Division of Wildlife, and the Ohio Insurance Institute

Last year, he report states, deer-motor vehicle incidents in Ohio resulted in 801 injuries and four fatalities with an estimated total motor vehicle repair bill of $85.1 million at an average of $3,995 per vehicle.

Also, nationally, the industry-sponsored “Insurance Journal” electronic magazine says that each year about 1.23 million deer-motor vehicle incidents occur, causing around $4 billion in vehicle damage. In 2014 - the last year such figures are available - there were 166 deer-motor vehicle-associated fatalities.

In looking at the assembled data presented each autumn by the Ohio entities, the counties with the highest deer-motor vehicle incidents in 2015 included Lorain (596); Hamilton and Stark (527 each); Richland (503); Clermont (491); Williams (433); Trumbull (425); Hancock 9411); Tuscarawas (410); Defiance 409); and Cuyahoga (408).

The only county to finish with deer-motor vehicle accidents in single digits in 2015 was Monroe County with just nine such occurrences.
As for deer-motor-vehicle-associated fatalities in 2015, one each were noted in Belmont County, Harrison County, Ross County, and Tuscarawas County.

The greatest number of injuries associated with deer-motor vehicle incidents in 2015 included Cuyahoga County (47); Lorain County (37); Clermont County (36); Hamilton County (31); Medina County and Tuscarawas County (22 each); and Stark County (20).

Elsewhere in Northeast Ohio, the number of deer-motor vehicle incidents in 2015 were: Media County (401); Sandusky County (278); Geauga County (276); Erie County (273); Huron County (258); and Lake County (210).
Likewise, in further research compiled annually by State Farm Insurance, the odds of an Ohio motorist being involved in a deer-motor vehicle incident are pegged at one in 126. By comparison, the odds next door in Pennsylvania are one in 67, while the odds to the west in Indiana are one in 136.

To the south the odds of a Kentucky motorist being involved in a deer-motor vehicle incident are one in 103.
However, the odds go way up in West Virginia, which has the dubious distinction of the state with the most likely odds of a motorist being involved in a deer-motor vehicle incident: one in 41. This is followed by Montana (one in 58); Pennsylvania; Iowa (one in 68); and South Dakota (one in 70).

Based on the State Farm Insurance numbers the state with lowest odds of a motorist being involved in a deer-motor vehicle incident is Hawaii – one in 18,955. Hawaii has a sizable population of Axis deer, an introduced species.

An important item the Ohio Insurance Institute stresses is that the organization plays no part as a deer-management lobbying organization; dispelling a commonly held hunters’ myth that the insurance industry actively solicits for a reduction in the state’s deer herd, says an Ohio insurance industry official.

“Ohio's insurance industry doesn't take a position on deer culling or other methods of controlling the state's deer population,” said Mary Bonelli, the Institute’s senior vice president of public information.

“We believe the ODNR Division of Wildlife, in tandem with local government, brings the proper balance to address these matters. The Ohio Insurance Institute’s role, along with its state agency partners, is to bring to light safety-related issues such as the elevated risk of deer-vehicle crashes in the coming months along with ways to curtail them.”

And it is just such prevention that Bonelli says her group stresses, too.

“October through December is the peak deer mating season in the Buckeye state, called the ‘rut’ and we urge Ohio motorists to be on the lookout for deer near roadways during this heightened period of deer activity,” Bonelli said.

 Since deer tend to travel in groups, if a motorist sees one, expect others, also says Bonelli who added that peak hours for experiencing a deer-motor vehicle incident are 5 a.m. to 8 a.m., and again from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.

“Especially in areas known to have high density of deer population, the Ohio Insurance institue recommends using high beams when there’s no opposing traffic. High beams illuminate the eyes of deer, providing drivers better reaction time,” Bonelli said.

Bonelli says too that such deer avoidance devices as car-mounted high-pitched whistles and special reflectors have “not proven to reduce collisions and may even lull a person into a false sense of security.”

“Data shows that the number of deer-motor vehicle crashes is on the rise in Ohio. We've also seen an increase in overall crashes in the Buckeye state which suggests this,” Bonelli said as well.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Ditching boards and commissions a bad idea by the ODNR

Well, pass the buck and shuffle the blame, the current Ohio Department of Natural Resources has risen finger-pointing to a degree unmatched during any other administration.

With a year and a few months left before the Kasich Administration hands over Fountain Square’s keys to another troupe of bureaucratic appointees, efforts are afoot to see that the public has less access to the inner sanctum of the agency.

Such access comes in the form of boards, commissions, councils and such like. On paper anyway the Natural Resources Department has 17 boards, councils, and commissions. These organizations are (or were) fueled by concerned volunteer citizen-activists who happily donated their time to watch over the affairs for which the respective bodies were created.

The rundown on the advisory councils, commissions, boards are: the Clean Ohio Trail Fund Advisory Board; the Coastal Resources Advisory Council; the Council on Unreclaimed Strip Mine Lands; the Forestry Advisory Council; the Geology Advisory Council; the Natural Areas Council; the Oil & Gas Commission; the Oil & Gas Leasing Commission; the Oil & Gas Technical Advisory Council; the Parks & Recreation Council; the Reclamation Commission; the Reclamation Forfeiture Fund Advisory Board; the Recreation & Resources Commission; the Scenic Rivers Advisory Councils (14, or the number of impacted watersheds);  the Water Advisory Council; the Waterways Safety Council; and the Wildlife Council.

Some of the delegations are empowered to bark loudly. Meanwhile, at least one entity – the eight-member Ohio Wildlife Council – has enough needle-point teeth to bite if it believes the Ohio Division of Wildlife’s fish and game law proposals are not according to Hoyle.

However, some of these entities exist in name only; carefully crafted bureaucratic Potemkin villages intended to impress elected officials as well as fool the public into believing the Kasich Administration really does listen to the heart of it all.

Looks are deceiving, of course, and never more so than when a political fa├žade is built to hide how genuine public input is less vital than assuring that the Natural Resources Department can operate with minimal public interference.

While the Wildlife Division’s Wildlife Council is a third rail when it comes to agency oversight bodies – and thus would politically electrocute any bureaucrat  looking to tamper with the members – many/most of the other groups are much less well protected.

Indeed, at least several of the groups are endangered species; possibly even all ready having become extinct. All, by the way, after originally receiving initial protection from the Ohio General Assembly at the time of their creation; a legislative birthright if you will.

Case in point: The Natural Areas Council – a group that lives on paper, which is really not worth all that much. The reason being, Governor Kasich has yet to appoint any of the scientists and naturalists presented to him since the legislature breathed new life into the council.

When asked about thumbing its nose at the Ohio General Assembly, the Natural Resources Department said through one of its spokesman that: “The work of the Council is being accomplished through our normal stakeholder outreach, and that input can be offered to the Department through a less formalized and bureaucratic process.”

In talking with some naturalists familiar with the issue, they were sympathetically excused when their throats choked closed as the result of involuntary reflex.

Nor was (is) the Natural Areas Council the only Natural Resources Department board or commission being boxed up and placed in the Kasich Administration’s warehouse of alleged politically inconsequential and unnecessary frivolities.

Also being packaged with political bubble wrap and shipped to the warehouse is the Natural Resources Department/Office of Coastal Management’s Advisory Council. This council is a policy wonk group if there ever was one – yet a vital link between governmental expert wonks and civilian coastal issue wonks.
In explaining what happened in scrubbing this advisory council from the book of essential citizens’ work, a true-to-form Natural Resources Department mandarin stated: “That is not a decision that the governor or the director make. It is up to the legislative body called the Sunset Review Committee. Periodically, they review all advisory councils that are called for in Ohio law.”

You have to hand it to the Natural Resources Department and its minions; they’re good at passing the buck, shuffling the blame, and finger-pointing. Anything is game in an attempt to create a good old-fashioned deflection of responsibility.

Seriously now, it doesn’t take much understanding of statecraft to know that all it takes for a governor or his hand-picked Natural Resources Director to do is inform the Sunset Review Committee that each and every one of the 17 boards, councils and commissions are important for delivering transparency.

Yet by making it more difficult and convoluted for the public to provide input, expertise, criticism and – yes – oversight, the easier it will be for government to engage in subterfuge and mischief.

This is not why these bodies were legislatively born, and their deaths will serve no one other than the bureaucrats and the politicians

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn