Thursday, August 17, 2017

Ohio's new hunter education course flunks some instructors' appraisal

After 15 years the Ohio Division of Wildlife has made major modifications to its hunter education classroom instructional material, upgrading the reading and comprehension level from a Fifth-Grade level to a Sixth-Grade level.

In the process the agency also has lowered the ante in order to pass the exam following 10 to 12 hours of instruction. Enrolled students must now correctly answer 75 percent of the test’s 100-question format. Previously, the number was 80 correct answers out of 100 questions.

But since implementing the new curriculum the Wildlife Division has seen a spike in the rate of student failure since the new study material began being used in March; as high as 40-percent in one southeastern Ohio class setting.

However, the Wildlife Division’s hunter-trapping education coordinator Matt Ortman says this rate will fall as both instructors and students become more familiar with the new material, assembled by the product’s only vendor, Texas-based Kalkomey Enterprises.

The state graduates between 16,000 and 17,000 hunter education students annually. These students are taught by the Wildlife Division’s all-volunteer corps of hunter education instructors which numbers in the neighborhood of 1,500 individuals.

Even so, only one-third of this instructor cadre has yet to undergo any sort of boot-camp refresher in order to fully understand and successfully teach the new curriculum.

Yet that instructor educational re-arming number will increase as the peak hunter education training season gets underway. This time period runs roughly between September 1st and the start of Ohio’s firearms deer-hunting season when about 80-percent of all students take the course, Ortman says.

Which still does not sit well with some of Ohio’s hunter education instructors. Among them is “Ohio Outdoor News” contributor Larry Moore of Jamestown, Ohio.

Moore has also been a volunteer Ohio hunter education instructor for 35 years and now teaches between 50 and 60 students annually.

For Moore the Wildlife Division’s roll-out of the new curriculum has proven anything but smooth and efficient. Not by a long shot, says Moore, who is frustrated that the lack of consulting with and request for input from instructors is a far cry from previous curriculum updates.

This has been the most disappointing effort on the part of the Ohio Division of Wildlife I have ever seen,” Moore said, not mincing any words. “Ford sold a lot of Pintos but it still was not a good automobile. Same here with the launch of this new curriculum.”

In an August 9th electronic exchange with the state’s certified hunter education instructors, Ortman noted that the Wildlife Division “...also be offering additional training in September and October in order to maintain your certification.”

We will be sending out additional information on this soon,” Ortman said. “We are also working on a revision to the test. All answer sheets and answer keys will remain the same.”

Then, too, said Ortman in a later telephone conversation, that it “was time to do something different,” noting that some hunter instructors were chiming in that the previous training materials had “become out-dated.”

Ortman later explained as well how the agency had conducted about 15 instructor training sessions across the state from March through early May but only that 563 volunteer teachers attended, making it more difficult to see that the revamped course is being adequately taught.

This is part of the reason why, Ortman says, mandatory training will be required at some point in order for a person to be either certified or re-certified as a hunter education instructor.

Hopefully by the end of October we’ll have all of our instructors trained,” Ortman said also. “It’s been tough for all of us.”

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Thursday, August 10, 2017

FFL-licensed holder gun thefts and robberies on sharp rise

Even with relatively stable firearms sales a growing number of individuals believe that free beats using a credit card or cash.

Increasingly over at least the past few years the number of firearms thefts and firearms-related robberies has climbed appreciably.

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (commonly and simply referred to as the BATF) reports that in the 2015 calendar year alone statistics show that 436 federally licensed firearms dealers reported gun store burglaries. Last year that figure sharply rose to 558 such instances.

Translated into actual numbers, the 2015 calendar year saw the heist of 4,721 firearms, a figure that jumped to 7,488 in calendar year 2016, says the BATF.

Going back a little further, the figures supplied by the BATF show that in calendar year 2012, there were only 377 burglaries of licensed firearms dealers which resulted in the theft of 4,340 firearms.

As for robberies of federal licensed dealers, in 2012 that figure was just 12, increasing to 33 in calander year 2016. Thus the BATF says that number of (largely) gun store-associated robberies has increased 175 percent.

This jump is seen in the number of firearms stolen during robberies of FFL licensed holders, too, up from 118 in calendar year 2012 to 370 in calendar year 2016; or an increase of 214 percent.

By BATF definition, “Burglary is the unlawful entry of a structure to commit a felony or theft. A robbery is taking anything of value from the care, custody, or control of a person or persons by force or threat of force or violence. While there is nuance and each case is assessed individually, overwhelmingly you will see that burglaries occur during non-operating hours and robberies occur during operating hours.”

The aforementioned legal description was provided by Suzanne L. Dabkowski, Public Information Officer for the BATF’s Columbus Field Division.

Also, gun stores (BATF’s designated Type 01 dealers) were targeted in 50-percent of the combined robbery and burglary categories. This was followed by 30-percent for Type 02 FFL-license holders, or pawn shops.

Refined further,75 percent of all robbery thefts involved handguns while almost 23 percent were long-guns, says the BATF.

Asked about 03 FFL license holders – those persons with the federal government’s Curio and Relic firearms collector’s permits - thefts and robberies are almost non-existent, Dabkowski says.

“They’re pretty rare, and I can think of only one such instance in my career,” Dabkowski says. “03 (Curio and Relic) license holders tend to be very discreet about their collections., which often contain valuable firearms.”

Dabkowski says that firearms thefts and robberies of FFL dealers at gun shows are unusual as well, though not to the same degree experienced by Curio and Relic license holders.

“And then it typically involves the theft of one or two firearms from off a display table,” Dabkowski said. “They’re not huge numbers by any means.”

A chief key in any firearms recovery effort is maintaining good firearms records, including for individuals. While not mandated by BATF rule-making authority, keeping a list of the serial numbers and descriptions of one’s personal firearms is paramount in any recovery, Dabkowski says too.

Even if a stolen firearm is used in a crime, the owner of the weapon can see that the firearm is returned once all of the legal wrangling involving the criminal is completed, Dabkowski says.

However, if a claim for the stolen firearm is made with an insurance company – whether that claim is undertaken by a FFL dealer or an individual – a recovered firearm than becomes that firm’s property. Which means that the firearm’s ultimate disposal is up to the insurer, Dabkowski says.

Dabkowski says the BATF has a publication available to assist firearms dealers in protecting their investments. The agency’s “Loss Prevention for Retailers” is found on the agency’s web site; The agency also maintains a toll-free hotline for FFL-license-associated firearms thefts and robberies.

For individuals, the BATF likewise has an on-line publication designed to help prevent at-residence gun thefts and robberies. This PDF-format publication is The agency’s “Personal Firearms Record” downloadable publication can be found through the agency’s portal at

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Monday, August 7, 2017

Army Corps' 288-page draft report offers possible options to stop Asian carp invasion

While Ohio’s junior senator Rob Portman is heralding the August 7th release of theArmy Corps of Engineers’ draft report to keep Asian carp out of the Great Lakes, the 488-page document is far from the last word on the subject.

Indeed, the “Great Lakes and Mississippi River Interbasin Study – Brandon Road Integrated Feasibility Study and Environmental Statement – Will County Illinois” is long in name though short on any promise to keep three species of invasive Asian carp species now residing in the Mississippi Watershed from crossing the line into the Great Lakes.

The stakes are high, though. Portman notes that the Great Lakes support a $7 billion fishing industry and Lake Erie contributes more than $10 billion to Ohio’s tourism industry.

Both of which would be jeopardized if Asian carp were allowed into the Great Lakes,” Portman says.

And the Corps’ recreational economic impact figures for the Great Lakes as a whole are even greater: “ is estimated that the annual economic contribution of recreational fishing in and around the (Great Lakes Basin) is approximately $13.3 billion,” the Corps report says.

Even so, the Corps is less certain regarding what an Asian carp invasion may – or may not mean – to the vast Great Lakes eco-system. The report notes in extensive detail the watershed’s biological complexity that embraces about 302,000 square miles and includes more than 5,000 tributaries.

Estimates of ecosystem changes were only available for Lake Erie’s biomass, and are varied and uncertain,” notes the Corps in its guardedly worded report.

Still, the Corps’ draft document – and draft is the operative word even Portman acknowledges – does detail six potential options to deal with the matter.

These six possible choices include – 1) No new action (thus, no action); 2) non-structural action (such as netting and strategic positioning of boat ramps); 3) Technical alternative involving electrical barriers; 4) Technical alternative involving “complex noise” systems; 5) Technical alternatives involving both electrical and complex noise systems; 6) Canal lock closure.

However, the Corps says in the report that it cannot offer any guarantees with any of the currently offered options.

The purpose of this study is to evaluate structural and nonstructural options and technologies near the Brandon Road Lock and Dam site to prevent the upstream transfer of ANS (Asian carp) from the Mississippi River Basin into the Great Lakes Basin, while minimizing impacts on existing waterway uses and users.

For this study, ‘prevent’ means the reduction of risk to the maximum extent possible, because it may not be technologically feasible to achieve an absolute solution,” the report says up front on page 21.

Portman – and fellow elected federal legislators from other Great Lakes states – are not about to give up or take “no” for an answer. Above all, the officials say, the need is very real in order to help ensure that “federal, state, and local policymakers can determine the most effective measures to prevent further Asian carp movement,” Portman said.

My colleagues and I have urged the Corps to release this plan so that there is no delay in implementing measures to protect the Great Lakes from Asian carp,” Portman said. “It is important that the Corps remain on schedule to finalize the plan by January of 2019, and I look forward to working with stakeholders and the Corps to do just that.”

The Corp is accepting comments on the draft report through the GLMRIS website, mail, and hand-delivery. Comments will be accepted through September 21, 2017.

Mailed and hand delivered comments can be sent to: US Army Corps of Engineers, Chicago District
231 S. LaSalle St. Suite 1500, ATTN: GLMRIS – Brandon Road Comments Chicago, IL 6060.

A yet-to-be-determined series of public meetings around the Great Lakes is scheduled also. Dates, times, and locations will be announced, the Corps says.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Friday, August 4, 2017

Ohio's Dog Days cicada brood emergence is catnip for state's wild turkeys

A newly emerging variety of cicadas – called “Dog Days” cicadas - is going to help fuel this year’s crop of wild turkey pollets.

And these young turkeys are anticipated to assist in filling up Ohio’s all ready populated flock of the species.

Thus perhaps for this fall’s wild turkey-hunting season and almost certainly for next year’s spring wild turkey-hunting season, the woods will echo loudly with the sound of gobbler-speak and turkey hen-led squadrons of birds.

For the past several weeks some portions of Ohio have seen the arrival – emergence in science lingo – of what’s known as “Dog Days” cicadas, including a swath of Northeast Ohio. This class of the fearsome-looking though harmless cicadas appear annually, though staggered enough so that individuals can fully utilize their two- to three-year develop cycle.

That is the take from The Ohio State University’s Extension Service which has studied the species habits in Ohio and has published several items on the subject.

The Extension Service’s published data also hastens to note that the Dog Days variety of cicadas is the same as but a different group of the insects which appear on 13-year and 17-year cycles. In 2016 a large portion of Ohio was inundated with a heavy emergence of 17-year cicadas that helped feed a good hatch of wild turkeys.

Which in turn helped biological fund an excellent kill of birds during this past spring’s wild turkey-hunting season, says Mark Wiley, an Ohio Division of Wildlife research biologist,

This past spring’s wild turkey-hunting season saw a total kill of 21,015 birds compared to the 17,793 birds shot during the 2016 spring season. And much of the huge by-county-recorded gains overlapped where 2016’s huge cicada Brood V occurred; which became a timely deli for the just-hatching baby wild turkeys as well as their parents.

Thing is, cicadas are protein dynamos that are eagerly sought after by wild turkeys and other forms of fowl and all.
Such an energy supply is being helped kept full by the Dog Days branch of the surprisingly large and diverse cicada family tree. The next significant emergence of the nearly always prolific multi-year cicada storm is expected in 2019.

That emergence will occur along a generally small quarter-moon-shape of territory from southeast Ashtabula County and bulging out into Trumbull and Mahoning counties before curving back into northeast Jefferson County. This batch of cicadas is known as Brood VIII.

Ohio's next massive emergence of cicadas across a larger portion of the state is expected with Brood X in 2021 and also Brood XIV in 2025. Such appearances are important, says students of cicada lore because the vast numbers of emergent insects so overwhelm predators that more than enough of the insects avoid being eaten and consequently keep their tribe fruitful for the next brood go-round.

In the meantime the Dog Days cicada class is helping to sustain Ohio’s wild turkey pollet survival and which will thus help the hunters’ chase for birds this coming fall and next spring, says Wiley.

“Absolutely a good brood cycle is excellent for wild turkey production and turkey harvest,” Wiley said. “Our wild turkey brood index in 2016 was three time greater than average. And that was reflected in this year’s spring turkey harvest figures.”

Better still, says Wiley also, is that this fall the state’s hunters should see not only a goodly number of now-mature birds from the 2016 wild turkey hatch but also a respectable number of birds born this year.

“That is assuming we follow the pattern that we saw 17 years ago,” Wiley said. “Generally, we see a turkey harvest spike two years after a large cicada brood harvest. That means there should be a good number of two-year old birds to hunt.”

Thanks in some measure at least to the broods of diet-rich cicadas which just don’t have it in their genetic make-up to wait 13 years, let alone 17 years.

By Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

To get to sportsmen's and sportswomen's wallets, first find out what they're thinking

The outdoors industry is well aware of the truism that if it wants to tap the wallets of hunters and anglers than it first must plumb their minds.

And few are as good at cracking the skulls of sportsman then Fernandina Beach, Florida-based Southwick and Associates. This survey and subsequent analysis firm’s on-going electronic-based questionnaires delve into the most minutiae of details.

Though clients spend big bucks to learn what Southwick uncovers the firm does offer up interesting teasers that do point in the direction where hunters and anglers are willing to travel in order to leave their respective credit card numbers in their wake.

Among Southwick’s most recent findings include the detail that AR-platform rifle buyers are not only younger but also are more ethnically diverse than have been – and are – buyers of other long gun forms.

These two noteworthy points reinforce what other findings suggest, the hypothesis being that today’s veterans returning to civilian life are familiar with AR-platform rifles and feel comfortable in owning and using them. This, in much the way returning veterans of World War I took up Springfield and Enfield Pattern rifles while World War II veterans believed that nothing beat the M1 Garand or the Colt Model 1911 pistol.

Also, today’s AR-platform rifle buyers are spending more on various uses for their firearms as well as visiting the gun range more frequently, says Southwick.

In tracking other data collected by its exhaustive surveying methodology, Southwick found through its most recent data-collection that just shy of 84 percent of the hunters it contacted said they chased deer: obviously no big surprise there.

However, Southwick’s surveying techniques do show that based on percentages, almost as many hunters  now go after feral hogs/wild boar (10.4 percent) as is the number who chase wild turkeys (10.5 percent). And even more hunters pursue predators than either turkeys or hogs; 13.6 percent, based on Southwick’s surveying strategies.

Southwick even goes so far as to pluck the grains of brand popularity among both anglers and hunters. For instance, Southwick found that the top handgun ammunition brand is Winchester while the most frequently purchased broadhead is made by Rage and the favored clay target is White Flyer.

Interesting stuff for a deer camp argument, for sure, but of immense importance to manufacturers who need such data in developing sales and marketing campaigns.

Of importance to the end users of the products that outdoor-related companies make and retailers sell is our buying habits; which in good economic times and bad economic times remain surprisingly stable, says Southwick.

“In recent years, sportfishing and hunting have remained resilient. During the time of recession (2008-2010), sportsmen and women still purchased licenses and our industry fared better than many others,” says a Southwick note on the subject.

“Economic shock caused many people to reconsider their hobbies and consumption habits and to look for greater value.  After re-evaluating what’s important to them, fishing and hunting often rose to the top.”

And that core importance was taken up by state fish and game agencies which by and large did not throttle back on programing and providing opportunities, says Southwick.

Consequently, hunting and fishing license sales increased after “long periods of decline,” said Southwick.

“Though not all sectors in our industry fared equally well, our industry did better than many other parts of the U.S. economy,” Southwick said.

Thus, what a hunter, shooter or angler is likely to find on a store shelf is owed in more than a little measure to the advanced scouting work of survey takers and data analyzers; that is, so long as manufacturers and retails don’t turn a deaf ear to what the statisticians uncover about us outdoors people.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Friday, July 28, 2017

Ohio's, nation's water quality at risk

In a double-edge sword, the nation is facing a reawakening crisis regarding protection of and the access to clean water.

Along one knife edge is how the Trump Administration and Congress are using their power to try and get the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to retreat on the matter of defining just which headwater streams and just which wetlands fall under purview of the national Clean Water Act.

This activity, says clean water advocates, is “... creating an uncertain future for the fish and wildlife habitat that sportsmen and women care about.”

Coupled to that environmental railcar is the news that not a single known drinking water supply operation anywhere is completely free of polluting chemicals.

That is, at least, the charge being brought by the Environmental Working Group, a left-of-center environmental organization that appears to have done its homework on the safety of drinking water in Ohio and elsewhere across the nation.

The Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership is attempting to engage sportsmen and sportswomen to become active and involved in what the organization perceives as a Congressional -Trump Administration plan to rollback certain provisions of the 2015 Clean Water Act’s rules.

These provisions apply to the legal definition of what constitutes headwater streams and wetlands. Fully 60-percent of U.S. stream miles and 20 million acres of wetlands are at risk with the anticipated redefinitions, says the Partnership.

At stake, says the Partnership also, is how these small arterial creeks help “feed into our world-class trout waters” while many of the now politically at-risk wetlands “make up a majority of America’s duck factory.”

“If the president intends to fulfill his stated goal of having the cleanest water, he should direct his administration to identify paths forward for defending and implementing the Clean Water Rule based on sound science, regulatory certainty, and the national economic benefits of clean water,” says Whit Fosburgh, the Partnership’s president and CEO.

“Instead, the president’s action to rescind the rule puts at risk the fish and wildlife that rely on these resources.”

Fosburgh goes on to say that the “uncertainty about the tools we have to protect these places” puts at risk the hunting and fishing access and opportunities, “which could stem the flow of more than $200 billion annually into rural communities and American businesses.”

Further, says Fosburgh, the federal government under a joint U.S. EPA and Army Corps of Engineers project spent the previous four years reviewing available data and working with a multitude of stakeholders to finalize the rules.

“Sportsmen, conservation groups, and many others submitted one million public comments to help shape the end product,” Fosburgh says as well.

Seconding Fosburgh’s statements is the head of the Izaak Walton League of America, Scott Kovarovics.

Kovarovics champions the belief that The Clean Water Rule is “critically important to improving and protecting water quality nationwide,” says Kovarovics.

 “The Act is based on extensive science but also on common sense, which tells us that it is impossible to improve water quality in our rivers and lakes unless the small streams flowing to them are also protected from pollution.”

And clean water whenever it is found is crucial to human health, especially since what people drink on a daily basis appears threatened by pollution – in spite of the fact that it is more often than not treated by either municipal or privately run water treatment systems, says the Environmental Working Group.

The Working Group contends that Americans “deserve the fullest picture possible of what’s in their tap water.”

“But they won’t get that information from the government or, in many cases, from their utilities,” charges the group’s president Ken Cook.

To that end the Group has devised an on-line portal that has analyzed and compiled government and other sources of information regarding some 82 known chemical pollutants from some 50,000 public water-supply systems nationwide that impacts 5.6 million people.

And though the “vast majority of utilities are in compliance with federal regulations,” their water still often contains contaminants in concentrations exceeding the levels that scientists say pose health risks, Cook says.

“Many of the existing legal limits are set far above levels that are truly health protective,” Cook argues in support of the Group’s findings, which took two years to compile.

And because the U.S. EPA has not added a new chemical to the list of regulated contaminants in 20 years, more than half of the contaminants detected in U.S. tap water had no regulatory limit at all Cook alleges.

“That means these chemicals could legally be present at any concentration, and that utilities don’t have to test for them or tell their customers about them,” Cook charges.

In looking over the Group’s drinking water floorplan for Ohio, for example, the Akron Public City Water Supply – which serves some 280,000 subscribers – has no fewer than eight known contaminants that exceed human health guidelines in its water plus 10 more other detected contaminants.

Toledo’s water supply system has also eight known contaminants that rise above human health guidelines plus another 14 other detected contaminants. The city’s water supply system serves 360,000 subscribers.

Meanwhile, the city of Columbus’ water supply system – which serves 1.16 million subscribers -  has seven known chemical contaminants that exceed human health standards along with 15 other contaminants.

Even much smaller water supply systems do not escape the Group’s review, though generally these water-supply entities fare a little better than their much larger counterparts.

The Wapakoneta City Water Supply serves 10,867 subscribers but its water still contains nine known chemical contaminants that exceed human health standards along with five other contaminants.

It would appear that the best of the bunch is the Little Hocking Water/Sewer Association which has only one known contaminant that exceeds human health standards plus nine other known contaminants. This entity services 12,522 subscribers.

For a complete review of the Group’s “Tap WaterDatabase,” visit

By Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

UPDATED II - Dispute exists as to the so-called transfer of a Willidfe Division staffer

It appears at first blush that the Ohio Department of Natural Resources may either be deliberately purging the ranks of the Ohio Division of Wildlife or else the former is using the latter agency as a farm team for its sibling associates.

On Monday came word that the Division's head of real estate - John Sambuco - was ordered transferred to the Department's real estate section. That possibly unprecedented move - or certainly rare move - has Natural Resources critics concerned about what may come stalking next from around the Kasich Administration's corner.

However, the Natural Resources Department sees things differently, noting that Sambuco's position with the Wildlife Division remains intact. He's just operating out of the different Fountain Square complex venue, says an agency spokesman.

It was only one week ago that the Natural Resources Department gave Sambuco's immediate boss, Stacy Xenakis, the ultimatum of either transferring elsewhere or else packing the bags 'cause you're history.

It may be noteworthy that on July 12th at the regular Ohio Wildlife Council meeting the newly installed Wildlife Division chief - Mike Miller - said under a withering question-and-answer session that there would not be any further personnel removals. The intense questioning of Miller largely came from Wildlife Council member Tom Vorisek.

Vorisek's bull-dogged questioning stemmed from his belief that Miller was being less than cooperative in the new chief's responses.

With Sambuco's departure this action brings to nine past or current Wildlife Division employees the Natural Resources Department has axed, transferred or demoted since July 5th. That date is when Natural Resources Director James Zehringer and two departmental assistant directors terminated as the Wildlife Division chief, Ray Petering.

And in virtually every instance the actions were taken with no prior warning nor notification to the impacted individuals. Neither did the Natural Resources Department post any of the newly opened jobs as being available for any potential applicant.

All of which is angering at least one pro-sportsmen's action group. The Columbus-based Sportsmen's Alliance is taking a hard line on the Natural Resources Department's equally entrenched position that it can do whatever it wants, whenever it wants, and to whomever it wants.

“Ohio’s hunters, anglers and trappers don’t know who to trust in ODNR right now, and there has been little to no dialogue to help ease those concerns,” said Evan Heusinkveld, the Alliance's president and CEO in an organizational media release.

The Sportsmen’s Alliance statement also included comments from Ray Petering, who fell out of the Zehringer's favor after only about 18 months. It was back then that Zehringer praised Petering, celebrating the latter's standing with Ohio's outdoors community and internally with the agency's personnel.
“Despite Chief Miller’s assurance in a public meeting, the political purge in the Division of Wildlife continues. Now they’ve moved past middle management and into the rank-and-file Division of Wildlife employees,” said Petering, quoted in the Alliance press release.
“Ohio’s sportsmen and women deserve to know what real agenda is at work to justify the disruption of so many careers of wildlife professionals.”

Not so fast, though, based on comments from the Natural Resources Department.

While Sambuco's title and work load remains the same he simply is working out of a different office in a different Fountain Square building, says a spokesman for the Natural Resources Department.

This, in spite of the fact that Sambuco's immediate Wildlife Division supervisor is now no longer positioned in the same building.

"John Sambuco's responsibilities or reporting structure has not changed; he still works for the ODNR Division of Wildlife," lso says departmental spokesman Matt Eiselstein.

Sambuco's  physical move was made for "ease of work flow and continuity and has proved successful in the past," Eiselstein says also.

"He is now working side by side with other real estate professionals that represent the department and other divisions," Eiselstein says. 

 - Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Fromer Ohio Wildlife chief's name officially lives on in spite of firing

In ancient Rome if the Senate truly didn’t like a guy – and we’re talking about absolutely desiring to disown a person – a decree would go out that was called “damnatio memoriae,” or “condemnation of memory.”

In short, the person was erased from life’s recording; the name never to be mentioned and his history scrubbed from the library’s scrolls.

Even further back the Egyptians did it too whenever some pharaoh was later judged less than favorably. It often took some doing to chisel the offending former potentate’s likenesses from a network of stone obelisks but the job got done just the same.

Today and as general rule damnatio memoriae isn’t quite so harsh. In spite of the fact that oft-times the governing powers would prefer that the public forgets what these officials believe is a less worthy administrator. Like Ray Petering; the former chief of the Ohio Division of Wildlife.

Petering, as most outdoorsy folks know by now, was handed his head on a platter July 5th by James Zehringer, director of the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.

Along with two underling accomplices, Zehringer notified Petering in person and also via a short, terse dismissal letter that his services as the Wildlife Division chief were no longer required. Petering was then escorted out of the Fountain Square complex in Columbus, his name (if you will) figuratively scrubbed from the cairn of the chosen few who hold the lofty title of “chief” of some Natural Resources Department administrative clan or another.

All, of course, coming only a span of several months after the very same Zehringer announced with gushing fanfare Petering’s recall from retirement. About the only thing missing back then was the placing of a laurel wreath upon Petering’s somewhat polished dome.

Such distasteful things happen in government all the time, certainly. One administration crosses the cold and deep waters of politics and forges ahead to undo what the previous scalawags did while in office. New people come and the old are quickly forgotten.

In effect, an attempt is made to wipe the dearly departed’s memory (if not their impact) from the thoughts of the civil servants who now much slave away building new monuments that they’ve been ordered to construct.

So Petering is gone and Mike Miller is in; the latter implored to construct (yet again) a refreshingly new sculpture. All performed to help the body public and constituency base see that the just crowned centurion has the emperor's blessing.

Still, Petering’s name has not gone so gently into that good night; not when the wheels of bureaucracy can feel the grit of reality.

Today I entered the catches of two “honorary grandsons” of mine into the ledger of the Ohio Division of Wildlife’s Fish Ohio program. Tanner and Tucker each caught eligible qualifiers for both the sunfish and crappie categories.

Besides recording the program’s required data so the boys could claim their Fish Ohio pins several weeks from now, I also ran off respective “Fish Ohio Outstanding Catch” certificates for the lads.

Handsome almost to fault when printed on parchment-type paper stock, the certificates indicate the species taken, length of fish, date and place of catch. The certificate even includes a color representation of the species.

Oh, and one other thing. Located in the lower right-hand corner of the certificate is the wording “Congratulations on your fine catch!” Plus, the printed and signed name “Raymond W. Petering” along with “Chief, Division of Wildlife.”

Intrigued, I looked through the Fish Ohio program’s electronic files to see how many potential certificates might theoretically exist that bears Petering’s name. The count was quantified to focus on the time between July 5th when Petering’s name became a fearful one to say for those left behind and July 15th when my lads caught their prized fishes. The answer was 350, give or take.

Yes, yes, of course, this is no big deal, one might easily say. The truth is likely that the Natural Resources Department’s massive bureaucracy is engaged in more pressing matters. Tinkering with the computer protocols to remove Raymond W. Petering’s name from the Fish Ohio certificate and add that of Mike Miller is trivial, one might effectively argue.

Even so, one might counter by hypothesizing that there exists at least some satisfaction on the part of Petering’s most devoted supporters that his name echos on more than 10 days after the former Wildlife Division chief’s unceremoniously abrupt departure.

Thing is, the Natural Resources Department’ top-to-bottom appointed leadership must understand an ages-old truth. In another 18 months or thereabouts these people – the same ones who have put the fear and wrath of the political gods into the souls of the department’s employees - will assuredly encounter their own damnatio memoriae.

No administration’s monuments stand forever; not even the columns erected by this one.