Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Ohio's 2017 spring turkey season a barnburner as hunters look to special deer/duck hunts

When you stop to think about it, the stage lights on Ohio’s hunting play never really dims.

On the same day the Ohio Division of Wildlife release the results of the 2017 spring wild turkey-hunting season (very good) the agency also prepares the state’s waterfowl and deer hunters for the up-coming application period of the series of special controlled hunts.

On the first matter, hunters electronically checked a preliminary 21,015 wild turkeys during the just-concluded spring season. That figure includes 19,095 turkeys for the regular season in both the south and north zones along with 1,910 birds for the youth-only season.

By comparison, turkey hunters in 2016 killed 16,229 birds during the spring season while 1,564 birds were taken during the 2016 youth-only spring season for a total of 17,793 turkeys.

In all, 28 of Ohio’s 88 counties posted declines, however.

For the just concluded spring season four of Ohio’s 88 counties saw kills of 600 or more birds each. They were Tuscarawas - 674; Coshocton – 649; Ashtabula – 648; and Muskingum – 612. Only two counties posted kills in single digits: Ottawa – one; and Madison – six.

In the newly created north turkey hunting zone and consisting of Ashtabula, Cuyahoga, Geauga, Lake and Trumbull counties only two of the five posted gains over their 2016 spring season kills: Ashtabula – 648 verses 569; and Lake – 87 verses 54. The other three counties saw declines – Cuyahoga – 10 verses 12; Geauga – 247 verses 264; and Trumbull – 408 verses 464.

Ohio’s 2017 spring wild turkey season was open from Monday, April 24, to Sunday, May 21, in the south zone and from Monday, May 1, to Sunday, May 28, in the northeast zone. The youth season was April 22-23.

Here is the county-by-county list of all wild turkeys checked during the 2017 combined spring turkey hunting seasons with their respective 2016 figures in parentheses: Adams: 503 (432); Allen: 91 (89); Ashland: 275 (202); Ashtabula*: 648 (569); Athens: 409 (363); Auglaize: 60 (50); Belmont: 532 (491); Brown: 425 (347); Butler: 189 (166); Carroll: 448 (322); Champaign: 89 (95); Clark: 17 (15); Clermont: 418 (396); Clinton: 45 (40); Columbiana: 332 (361); Coshocton: 649 (418); Crawford: 75 (74); Cuyahoga*: 10 (12); Darke: 45 (40); Defiance: 291 (324); Delaware: 102 (111); Erie: 57 (55); Fairfield: 130 (102); Fayette: 15 (26); Franklin: 23 (21); Fulton: 140 (120); Gallia: 472 (418); Geauga*: 247 (264); Greene: 24 (16); Guernsey: 564 (428); Hamilton: 107 (117); Hancock: 52 (53); Hardin: 86 (87); Harrison: 550 (425); Henry: 58 (72); Highland: 456 (387); Hocking: 379 (309); Holmes: 376 (217); Huron: 170 (113); Jackson: 447 (347); Jefferson: 402 (410); Knox: 436 (285); Lake*: 87 (54); Lawrence: 293 (274); Licking: 418 (281); Logan: 137 (141); Lorain: 165 (141); Lucas: 67 (60); Madison: 6 (13); Mahoning: 231 (228); Marion: 37 (35); Medina: 172 (138); Meigs: 533 (419); Mercer: 20 (21); Miami: 24 (20); Monroe: 592 (508); Montgomery: 19 (18); Morgan: 426 (308); Morrow: 181 (174); Muskingum: 612 (462); Noble: 482 (349); Ottawa: 1 (3); Paulding: 113 (126); Perry: 390 (260); Pickaway: 19 (26); Pike: 300 (278); Portage: 289 (205); Preble: 93 (114); Putnam: 66 (87); Richland: 347 (280); Ross: 389 (350); Sandusky: 21 (25); Scioto: 299 (270); Seneca: 179 (141); Shelby: 46 (50); Stark: 338 (281); Summit: 57 (65); Trumbull*: 408 (464); Tuscarawas: 674 (429); Union: 59 (48); Van Wert: 22 (27); Vinton: 360 (306); Warren: 95 (101); Washington: 544 (466); Wayne: 145 (106); Williams: 283 (313); Wood: 24 (36); Wyandot: 108 (103). Total: 21,015 (17,793).

The on-line-only application period for the special controlled waterfowl and deer hunts is Thursday, June 1 through Monday, July 31.

These special hunts are held on selected areas and are very popular. Thus the odds of being drawn are universally challenging. All applicants - youth and adult - must possess a 2017-2018 Ohio hunting license and meet the age requirements in order to apply for a controlled hunt.

Hunters can apply for the controlled hunts by completing the application process online using Ohio’s Wildlife Licensing System at wildohio.gov. There is a non-refundable application fee of $3 per hunt.

Hunters will be randomly drawn from submitted applications. Successful applicants will be notified and provided additional hunt information by mail and email. Applicants are encouraged to visit Ohio’s Wildlife Licensing System online to view the status of their application and, if selected, print their controlled hunt permit.

More specific information about hunt dates and locations, including opportunities dedicated to youth, women and mobility-impaired hunters, can be found at wildohio.gov on the Controlled Hunts page.


-       Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

-       JFrischk@Ameritech.net

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Army Corps gets millions for Lake Erie harbor projects

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has slated some additional high-dollar projects along the Lake Erie and Lake Ontario shorelines, including five for Ohio’s share of the former’s lakefront.

These 13 projects fall within the Corps’ Buffalo District and span three states: Ohio, Pennsylvania and Ohio.

All of the items are additions to the Corps’ Fiscal Year 2017 budget with the added items totaling $24.83 million. The money was earmarked in the just-passed federal Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2017, said Corps Buffalo District spokesman Andrew A. Kornacki.

The most expensive project on the 13-item list is the $4.9 million slated for work at New York’sOsweago Harbor on Lake Ontario. Work on Pennsylvania’s popular Presque Isle will involve beach enrichment and will cost $1.5 million.

 Ohio’s five slated projects total $12,460,000 – more than for either of the other two states. Broken down, said Kornacki, the projects are:

·         $1.8 million for dredging the Cleveland Harbor.

·         $3 million for the construction and east breakwater end section repair of Conneaut Harbor (the second most costly Corps Buffalo District project).

·         $2.9 million for repair of Lorain Harbor’s outer breakwater.

·         $740,000 for dredging of the Toussaint River Harbor.
        *     $1,020,000 for dredging of the West Harbor near Port Clinton.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Friday, May 26, 2017

Cookouts can be deadly for dogs and expensive for pet owners

Now that we are at the shotgun start of the summer vacationing season and the Memorial Day weekend marks the unofficial kick-off to outdoor cooking, it is a good time to reexamine the risk of such fine culinary dining by our pets.

However – just as humans can’t take a drink from a lake or want to dip a glass into a toilet bowl - there are foods that are highly toxic to dogs but which we humans relish with no more risk than maybe an eventual need for an anti-acid.

Enter pancreatitis in canines; a condition caused by overeating or swallowing a foreign object.

Healthy Paws Pet Insurance - a pet insurance provider for dogs and cats – says that last year it saw more than 1,300 claims related to pancreatitis last year. That is in addition to more than 5,600 claims the insurer says it received for so-named “foreign body obstruction.

This title stems from a pet eating something it’s not supposed to eat, such as socks, rocks or other. In fact, in one case a basset hound needed surgery after sneaking a corn cob from the family dinner. The required surgery generated a staggering $5,870 vet bill.

To help keep your furry family members happy and healthy this holiday weekend, Healthy Paws has compiled a list of BBQ dos and don’ts:

So what is okay for your dog to eat and which can help avoid an expensive holiday trip to an emergency veterinarian clinic? Healthy Paws says:

•  Burgers: Hamburger meat makes a great high-value treat if it’s plain. But burgers that are too greasy or cooked with garlic, onions, spices and seasonings are a no-go: your dog can get sick with vomiting or diarrhea.

•  Hot Dogs: If the hot dog’s ingredients are strictly high-quality meats, you’re safe. Toss the buns as Healthy Paws says “they are empty calories.”

•   Seafood: Seafood like salmon is usually safe for dogs if it’s cleared of miniscule bones and isn’t cooked in garlic or onions. If it comes in a shell, remove it (clams, oysters, lobsters, etc.).

Just as importantly, here is Healthy Paws’ list of forbidden foods:

•  Pasta salad, potato salad, potato chips. While potatoes are common ingredients in dog food, potato and pasta salads are often made with no-no’s like garlic and onions, and potato chips are coated in salt, which isn’t good for dogs.

•  Beer: Dogs just can’t process it.

• Desserts and ice cream: Canines can be lactose-intolerant, and ice cream is full of sugar. While naturally occurring sugars aren’t bad, the added sugars in pies and cakes can lead to health problems. Same with sugar-free desserts – most artificial sweeteners may cause diarrhea, and sugar substitute are actually poisonous to pups.

For further information about pet wellness, check out Healthy Paws’ Cost of Care report<

By Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Pennslvania sees huge spike of CWD infection in its wild deer

Chronic wasting disease - CWD – in wild deer has yet to materialize in Ohio but the insidious and always fatal ailment is knocking on the state’s door.

The Pennsylvania Game Commission has reported that last year the agency’s scientists found 25 cases of the disease in that state’s so-named “Disease Management Area Number Two.” This expansive zone comprises parts of Bedford, Blair, Somerset, Fulton, Cambria, and Huntingdon counties; all of which pretty much are in south-central Pennsylvania.

Since 2012 the Game Commission has noted 47 deer tested positive for the disease; again, 25 of which were seen in 2016 alone.

The Game Commission says it collects samples from hunter-harvested deer, road-killed deer, escaped captive cervids, and any cervid displaying CWD-like symptoms.

The 25 new CWD-positive wild deer were part of 1,652 deer samples collected within DMA 2 during 2016. CWD-positive deer included 13 road-killed deer, 10 hunter-harvested deer, and two deer showing signs consistent with CWD.


In all last year the Game Commission tested 5,707 deer and 110 elk for Chronic Wasting Disease.


Also, since 2002, the Game Commission has tested over 61,000 deer for CWD. And although samples are collected from across the state, efforts were increased within three declared Disease Management Areas (DMAs). It is in these geographically designated areas of Pennsylvania which are areas in the state where CWD has been identified in wild and/or captive deer.


These areas include: DMA 1 in parts of Adams and York counties in which CWD was identified on a captive deer farm in 2012; DMA 2 in parts of Bedford, Blair, Somerset, Fulton, Cambria, and Huntingdon counties where CWD has been identified in multiple wild deer since 2012 and recently on three captive deer facilities; and DMA 3 in Jefferson and Clearfield counties where CWD was detected on two captive deer facilities in 2014.


Ohio has thus far been spared the CWD-sniper bullet, at least in so far as wild deer are concerned. Only a small portion of the state in Holmes County is under a somewhat CWD quarantine, resulting from infected animals being discovered in 2014 in a captive herd owned by a hunting preserve.


Since 2002 the Ohio departments of Agriculture and Natural Resources have jointly worked on CWD containment protocols that include restrictions on such things as baiting. All in an effort to keep CWD from jumping into the state’s wild deer herd.


To date more than 11,000 wild Ohio deer have been sampled but no CWD yet has been seen in this wild herd of animals.
- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Emerald shiner drought expected to continue for Lake Erie

Lake Erie emerald shiners likely will be worth more than their weight in golden shiners again this year – and fisheries biologists lake-wide do not have a good handle as to why a dearth of them exists either.

Indeed, biologists who intently study Lake Erie’s fisheries are not even sure of the scope of the emerald shiner population decline anymore than they do the “why.”

“I’ll be up front about it; I know very little about emerald shiner biology,” said Travis Hartman, head of the Ohio Division of Wildlife’s Sandusky Fisheries Research Station.

It would appear that no one else does, either; beyond a general acknowledgement that emerald shiner stocks are down lake-wide. This means that Lake Erie’s yellow perch anglers – especially those in Lake Erie’s Central Basin – are compelled to look to commercially raised golden shiners, a commodity that many fishers claim is an inferior substitute for emerald shiners.

“A New York perch fisherman will tell you the same thing,” said also Donald Einhouse, Lake Erie fisheries manager for the New York State Environmental Conservation agency.

Perhaps adding fuel to the fire is New York State’s so-called “transportation corridor.” This rule allows emerald shiners taken north of Interstate 90 (the New York Turnpike) to be used but only within that region. And while an outright prohibition on interstate exportation does not exist, Einhouse said that to do so would require meeting the requirements of any transportation corridor established by both Pennsylvania and Ohio.

And that insistence would almost surely set up a red-tape conundrum for a bait dealer who works on a slim margin of profit as it is.

Generally not well known, too, is that at one time many of the emerald shiners sold in bait stores along Ohio’s share of the Lake Erie shoreline originated from New York’s Upper Niagara River and Buffalo Harbor.

 In further explanation as to the situation, New York’s transportation corridor application came about when the fish virus VHS(viral hemorrhagic septicemia) was first detected in Lake Erie more than 10 years ago. The concern centered on how transporting Lake Erie baitfish posed a potential threat to fish stocks beyond the basin. The federal government lifted its edict around 2007; this, following the implementation of state-regulated transportation corridors.

However, the downturn in the status of Lake Erie’s emerald shiner population is only aggravating the exportation-transportation situation.

“Unfortunately we have to talk in generalities because we don’t index emerald shiners,” Hartman said. “(Emerald shiners) sort of fall through the cracks.”

Hartman did say that during some fish survey work does suggest that emerald shiner populations are not what they were a few years ago. Among the studies are sampling the stomachs of Lake Erie predator fish. Among them are yellow perch, walleye and smallmouth bass.

Results of these efforts point to these named predatory fish species eating fewer emerald shiners. Instead, Hartman says, Lake Erie’s upper tier predators are feeding on something other emerald shiners.

“They are adjusting and adapting,” Hartman said.

Consequently, Hartman says he’s not particularly worried; not when a walleye or a yellow perch has an abundance of other prey available to it for sustenance.

“I’d be more concerned if we saw a problem with the predator base but we are not noticing it at a level where emerald shiners are on the way out,” Hartman said. “It’s good that Lake Erie has other prey for fish like walleye and perch to feed on.”

Besides, Hartman said, even trying to get a handle on Lake Erie’s emerald shiners would be no small task. The species prefers open water and typically suspend in the water column.

“That makes emerald shiners tough to assess,” Hartman said.

Tough, yes, agrees Einhouse, who explained that his state’s take is the same as that of Ohio’s; expanding how the emerald shiner population’s downturn has extended for at least “two years.”

“So far this year it has not been difficult for people to collect emerald shiners, but that can change very quickly,” Einhouse said as well.

Yet it’s also been a considerable challenge for Pennsylvania bait stores to stock the popular yellow perch bait, says Darl Black, a Pennsylvania outdoors writer who writes an exhaustive weekly fishing report for that state’s northwest region. Featured in Black’s report are extensive outtakes gleaned from Erie-area bait dealers and anglers.

“Barely (an emerald shiner) is showing up in shallow waters in Pennsylvania or in Presque Isle Bay; bait shops have none,” Black said.

What is needed then is for some favorable environmental factor to kick in and reboot Lake Erie’s emerald shiner stocks – whatever those factors may be, Hartman says as well.

Besides, it’s not like the emerald shiner population has crashed; not enough that some licensed bait dealers cannot find the minnows at all, Hartman said.

“Clearly there are people who are finding them,” Hartman said. “(And) all it would take is one good hatch for the emerald shiner population to rebound.”

Until then, Lake Erie yellow perch anglers will need to buy golden shiners or net their own emeralds now and preserve them for use later in the fishing season.

Just remember, Hartman says, that Ohio law stipulates that if you keep 500 or more live emerald shiners in some fashion you must have an annual $40bait dealer’s license. That license is likewise required of charter captains if they separately charge their clients for the baitfish, Hartman said.
- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Ohio Natural Resources still interested in at least a portion of AEP Recreation lands

Understanding that it can’t buy the entire AEP coal lands pie the Ohio Division of Wildlife would at least like to obtain a sizable slice.

However, the agency is strapped enough for cash that purchasing even a few crumbs of the 60,000-acre popular outdoors recreational territory in southeast Ohio may prove daunting.

Even so, the Wildlife Division still intends to pursue buying a portion of the property from the private coal-mining/electrical power generating American Electric Power (AEP) company.

AEP has stated it wants to sell off the area in large parcels. This has generated heat of its own, along with heartburn for Wildlife Division officials.

The acreage consists of a huge chuck on land, expanding over several southeast Ohio counties and is comprised of several designated wildlife areas.  These properties are enormously popular with outdoors enthusiasts of all stripes; from campers to anglers to hunters to birders to hikers.

An effort in January to work out a deal for buying several thousand acres in a “core” section of the area failed to produce an agreement, says Ray Petering, chief of the Wildlife Division.

“We’re trying to find federal dollars which seems to have helped in AEP not selling off everything so quickly,” Petering said recently to a group of outdoors writers.

Petering also said that whatever the agency can pick up it won’t be a paltry size piece of real estate, either. Rather, any purchase would run in “several thousand acres” and not several hundred, Petering says.

“We’ve told AEP that we’re in for something,” Petering said. “The door and lines of communication are still open.”

Petering said too that his agency is most interested in acquiring land found within a core segment of the current boundaries. And any buy should include as much water-associated property as possible along with good habitat or at least property that could be developed for good wildlife habitat, Petering says.

Petering said too that any deal would almost certainly require as many as four years to complete.

“We should get something, which is better than nothing,” Petering said.

Even so, that something will require money. And given that an initial assessment paints AEP property as costing $2,000 per acre, any land-buying agreement would require a huge cash outlay.

Complicating any prospective purchase is that acreage where so-called “shallow coal” exists would be valued even higher. It is here where mineral – coal – extraction is easiest; thus, less expensive to mine and consequently more desirable to any likely commercial suitor, Petering says.

This is why the Wildlife Division is looking to partner with major national land-conservation groups and others in providing financial assistance.

And it is here where the subject of potential resident hunting and fishing license fee increases enters the picture. With fewer available dollars now hanging out in the Wildlife Fund there exists a lessened financial opportunity for the Wildlife Division to salvage what it can of the AEP property, Petering acknowledged.

“We will do what we can with what we have,” Petering said.

As for the parent Ohio Department of Natural Resources, that entity stands behind the Wildlife Division in securing AEP property while still opposing license fee increases for Ohio resident hunters and anglers.

“We do support Wildlife with regards to AEP,” said Gary Obermiller, a Natural Resources Department assistant director. “We wanted to buy the entire 60,000 acres but AEP didn’t want to go with that.”

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Friday, May 12, 2017

New Northeast Ohio spring turkey zone sees okay first week kill

By Jeffrey L. Frischkorn
This is going to be an easy and quick one.

With Ohio’s 88 counties divided into two spring wild turkey-hunting season zones the five extreme Northeast Ohio counties got tucked away into a separate unit. This, because they are the state’s Snow Belt counties which often are way behind weather-wise than are their 83 sibling counties.

Unfortunately the first week for these counties was marked by cold, wind and lots of rain. Lots and lots of rain at times. Never-the-less birds were killed. Thus, here are the first week numbers for the NE turkey zone county harvests.

NE Zone County

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Ohio Natural Resources official blasts license fee increase proponents

Obviously nervous – even apprehensive and testy – Ohio Department of Natural Resources assistant director Gary Obermiller told a group of outdoors journalists May 6th that he “wasn’t even sure he should come.”

That uncertainty arrived while addressing attendees of the Outdoor Writers of Ohio’s annual conference, held in Summit County’s Hudson.

Obermiller’s remarks were delivered during a presentation at the Ohio Division of Wildlife’s District Three (Northeast Ohio) Office in nearby Akron. They came on the heels of a recent vocal cacophony delivered by various sportsmen and conservation groups, former Wildlife Division officials and others, all of whom are requesting Departmental backing for increases to resident fishing and hunting license fees.

The Natural Resources Department all ready has stated that it backs increases in non-resident license fees, particularly for non-resident deer hunters.

However, a gap in agreement for raises for residents hunters and anglers exists between the Natural  Resources Department and at least 32 state and national sportsmen and conservation groups. And that gap is both a wide and a very deep chasm, too.

Obermiller attempted to defuse the difference though at times he seemed to stir the caldron even further; in one instance lambasting six of the Wildlife Division’s immediate past living chiefs for publically supporting resident license fee increases.

In effect, Obermiller said, the now-retired slate of former Wildlife Division chiefs lacked in championing via their joint communiqué the fee increase proposal since license sales not only stagnated during their respective watches, but declined.

“Sometimes by double digits,” Obermiller said, who then hastily added “(But) I’m not blaming them.”

Obermiller also says that a culture unique to the Wildlife Division exists and is one that has not always been helpful – an oft-times stated position in the media and by bystanders who regularly observe the agency.

Yet that culture seems to have soured, say some within the Wildlife Division who are fearful of expressing themselves publically.

“The Division of Wildlife has always operated at a distance (from the Natural Resources Department) more than any other division,” Obermiller said, adding that both the Natural Resources Department and the Wildlife Division have “always had morale problems.”

As for the nearly three dozen groups now supporting increases to resident angler and hunter license fees, Obermiller dismissed their joint assembly on the issue out of hand. He even questioned whether the various groups – including Ducks Unlimited, the National Wild Turkey Federation, the Columbus-based Sportsman’s Alliance and others – had polled their membership regarding resident license fee increases or whether the decision came just from the groups’ “leadership.”

“And what about the sportsmen who don’t belong to these groups; do they agree or disagree with a license fee increase?” Obermiller rhetorically asked. “I don’t know.”

When pressed that such a stand is similar to the tactic employed by various anti-Second Amendment organizations against the National Rifle Association and other pro-gun lobbying efforts, Obermiller angrily denied such an analogy.

“Any (license fee increase) should be a last resort,” Obermiller said also. “Just to say you’re operating on 2003 dollars is not enough.”

Asked, however, just how many organized groups have publically stated their support for the Natural Resources Department’s position, Obermiller said it is not the agency’s “job go out and garner support.”

Along those lines Obermiller seemed to have ignited the spark that has generated the Natural Resources Department’s main thrust against resident hunting and fishing license fee increases.

It is the Department’s position, said Obermiller, that not only did the fee increase proponents catch the agency’s off guard as to the request for the hikes but that they failed to explain in any detail exactly where the additional revenue would be spent.

Similarly Obermiller said he is unsure of exactly how many commissioned officers the Wildlife Division is lacking – including officers assigned to counties, and whether the agency even needs money for additional land acquisition.

“I don’t have a good handle on that,” Obermiller said.

To illustrate the Department’s unwavering support for the Wildlife Division, Obermiller also not only reiterated but emphasized that the Natural Resources Department has absolutely no intent nor desire to create a unified law enforcement command that would enfold the Wildlife Division’s commissioned officers with Park rangers, Forestry agents, and Watercraft officers.

“I can’t make it any clearer: ‘We are not going down that road,’” Obermiller said.

And the Department has championed the goal of the Wildlife Division to seek ownership of at least some of the AEP land in southeast Ohio – an extremely popular public hunting and fishing area owned by a private mineral extraction company who is poised to sell off thousands of acres of land.

 “We have no interest in the Wildlife Division struggling or failing,” Obermiller said. “To think otherwise is ridiculous. I can’t recall any time when Wildlife didn’t come to us that we haven’t helped.”

Besides, said Obermiller, perhaps a non-resident fee increase might prove ample in solving any fiscal problems that the Wildlife Division may be encountering now or may encounter in the short or long term.

However, the future of the Wildlife Division’s District One (Central Ohio) office does remain on the table Obermiller says.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Six former Ohio Wildlife Division chiefs nix ODNR's license fee increase opposition

Bucking the present regime in charge of Ohio, six former chiefs of the Ohio Division of Wildlife are now on record in support of modest increases to Ohio’s hunting and fishing licenses.

Not only for non-resident sportsmen either, but for resident hunters and anglers as well. This puts the six at odds with the flip-flopping Ohio Department of Natural Resources leadership which once supported such fee increases as did at one time Ohio Governor John Kasich.

In a letter dated May 2nd and sent to Kasich the six now-retired Wildlife Division chiefs collectively argued that “Operating the Division of Wildlife on a 2003 budget will not permit that to happen,” the “that” being to arrest “The declining quality of programs and service” of the Division of Wildlife.

“Put simply,” the signed document says “the current trend is slowly starving out the Ohio Division of Wildlife, which if not corrected, will result in an irretrievable loss of customers and revenue.”

The six signees and their years of service as a Wildlife Division chief under both Republican and Democrat governors are Steve Cole (1982-1983); Clayton Lakes (1985-1991): Dick Pierce (1991-1995); Mike Budzik (1995-2003); Steve Gray (2003-2007); and Dave Graham (2007-2011).

Noteworthy is that Budzik has been a long-time and early-on supporter of Kasich and has actively lobbied for the governor’s outdoors agenda before Ohio sportsmen, natural resources and conservation groups.

However, the Natural Resources Department’s leadership – after one-time saying it supported modest license fee increases for residents as well as more steep price jumps for non-residents – has backtracked on the issue as it relates to resident hunters and anglers.

Without clearly spelling out where and how savings can be made the Natural Resources Department stands opposed to raises in resident hunting and fishing license fees. It is prepared to back increases to non-resident fees, however.

Last month Natural Resources Director James Zehringer wrote a letter that stated among other things:

“Raising fees on Ohioans should be the last option not the first.  At ODNR we remain committed to finding more effective and efficient ways to manage the state’s resources. We need to make tough choices to keep costs down and responsibly manage the funds Ohioans have entrusted to us.

The challenge facing Ohio’s sportsmen and women is not just dollars and cents, but the shrinking number of their fellow citizens who hunt, fish and trap.  Increasing the cost to participate is not the solution at this time.  Instead, we must work together to find innovative ways to grow the sport and pass on our love of hunting, fishing, and trapping to the next generation.
To which the six former Wildlife Division chiefs responded in their letter by saying “While the (Ohio) General Assembly should always be careful not to overcharge its users, the price of a license is not the (N)umber (O)ne reason people give up hunting, fishing or trapping.”
he group of six then goes on the state that lack of access to a wide array of outdoors venues is paramount to why people leave the hunting, fishing and trapping fold. And that can only be addressed through a steady cash stream so that Ohio can obtain “...better managed public land, more educational programming to help people locate places to hunt and fish and trap, more boating access, and better stocked waterways.”

Bolstering the six former Wildlife Division chiefs is the Ohio-based Sportsmen’s Alliance which has pounded out a steady drumbeat for modest hunting and fishing license fee increases for residents and a more equitable license fee system for non-residents, particularly non-resident deer hunters.

In an attached electronic lead letter to the signed declaration by the six former Wildlife Division chiefs, Sportsmen’s Alliance president and CEO Evan Heusinkveld said:

“There continues to be a growing cacophony of support for a fee increase, including the former chiefs, the Ohio Wildlife Council, and Ohio’s sportsmen and conservationists who actually pay to use the resource. This support should be a clear signal to members of the senate that the time has come to update resident and non-resident license fees.”

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

First week of Ohio's spring turkey season bags more than 10,000 birds

Ohio’s turkey hunters are finding that during the spring season’s second week the ground is soggy, the air is wet and the creeks are running too full to jump over.

However, they sure did bust up the flocks during the spring season’s first week. Or at least those hunters participating in Ohio’s newly designated South Zone; which is comprised of 83 of the state’s 88 counties.

Excluded are the five counties which comprise the Northeast Ohio Zone: Ashtabula, Cuyahoga, Geauga, Lake, and Trumbull counties. These counties saw their spring turkey season door swing open this past Monday, May 1st.

For the South Zone, hunters logged a preliminary 10,280 wild turkeys killed during the first week of the wild turkey hunting season, April 24th through 30th. By comparison, in 2016 hunters checked 8,629 wild turkeys statewide – that’s for all 88 counties - during the first week of the season.

High numbers were anticipated as an unusually strong cicada emergence occurred last spring across much 0- but not all – of Ohio during spring, 2016. Such emergences typically mean access to a high-protein diet for both adult and juvenile turkeys. This condition then translates into both good poult production and strong survivability of young birds.

Ohio’s spring wild turkey season is divided into two zones: The South Zone, which is open from Monday, April 24th to Sunday, May 21st, and the Northeast Zone, which opened Monday, May 1st and runs to to Sunday, May 28th.

Hunting hours are a little convoluted, though not so much that with a little care a hunter is not breaking any of the spring turkey-hunting season’s rules.

In the South Zone, legal shooting hours are 30 minutes before sunrise until noon from April 24th-May 7th and 30 minutes before sunrise to sunset from May 8th to May 21st.

Hunting hours in the Northeast Zone are 30 minutes before sunrise until noon from May 1-14 and 30 minutes before sunrise to sunset from May 15-28.

Here is the preliminary list of wild turkeys checked by hunters in the South Zone during the first week of the spring turkey hunting season. The first number following the county’s name shows the turkeys killed for 2017, and the respective comparable 2016 numbers are in parentheses. Asterisks designates each one of the five Northeast Zone counties, which were open during the first week of the spring wild turkey season in 2016, but did not open until this past Monday, May 1st:

Adams: 280 (220); Allen: 36 (37); Ashland: 135 (88); Ashtabula: * (261); Athens: 217 (168); Auglaize: 30 (22); Belmont: 273 (255); Brown: 218 (167); Butler: 100 (93); Carroll: 237 (169); Champaign: 45 (46); Clark: 9 (8); Clermont: 220 (207); Clinton: 27 (19); Columbiana: 173 (179); Coshocton: 348 (209); Crawford: 32 (45); Cuyahoga: * (4); Darke: 14 (17); Defiance: 140 (143); Delaware: 45 (47); Erie: 31 (28); Fairfield: 69 (50); Fayette: 9 (9); Franklin: 9 (10); Fulton: 71 (54); Gallia: 271 (212); Geauga: * (125); Greene: 9 (11); Guernsey: 321 (216); Hamilton: 52 (60); Hancock: 24 (25); Hardin: 43 (49); Harrison: 298 (212); Henry: 31 (31); Highland: 220 (163); Hocking: 230 (161); Holmes: 168 (111); Huron: 87 (54); Jackson: 240 (188); Jefferson: 225 (202); Knox: 226 (144); Lake: * (21); Lawrence: 160 (146); Licking: 234 (140); Logan: 69 (57); Lorain: 89 (58); Lucas: 31 (30); Madison: 2 (5); Mahoning: 103 (104); Marion: 22 (19); Medina: 73 (70); Meigs: 309 (229); Mercer: 12 (9); Miami: 6 (9); Monroe: 311 (220); Montgomery: 9 (11); Morgan: 223 (172); Morrow: 96 (97); Muskingum: 321 (242); Noble: 253 (153); Ottawa: 1 (1); Paulding: 52 (58); Perry: 200 (121); Pickaway: 10 (13); Pike: 153 (132); Portage: 143 (95); Preble: 40 (55); Putnam: 32 (40); Richland: 168 (130); Ross: 227 (183); Sandusky: 11 (14); Scioto: 183 (129); Seneca: 90 (69); Shelby: 27 (22); Stark: 170 (120); Summit: 27 (26); Trumbull: * (204); Tuscarawas: 370 (208); Union: 27 (29); Van Wert: 11 (11); Vinton: 215 (141); Warren: 45 (55); Washington: 277 (222); Wayne: 73 (49); Williams: 131 (133); Wood: 11 (16); Wyandot: 50 (42). Total: 10,280 (8,629).
- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Terrible weather didn't hurt turkey kill for new Northeast Ohio Zone spring season opener

The woods were so wet during the newly created May 1st Northeast Ohio spring wild turkey hunting season opener that even my hen decoy was complaining.

Mixed with the rain were falling temperatures and rising wind speeds. So the weather was hardly inviting for man, beast, birds - or decoys.

And yet it mattered not for more than 200 turkey hunters participating in the five-county (Northeast Ohio Zone) late spring season start: Ashtabula, Cuyahoga, Geauga, Lake, and Trumbull.

Assembled together their combined spring turkey season opener saw a preliminary total kill of 216 bearded birds. In 2016 – and when the five counties saw their opener dovetail with the rest of the state’s 83 counties – the combined tally was 201 birds.

Not unexpectedly leading the way was Ashtabula County where 97 turkeys were shot and compared to its 2016 spring season opening day kill of 85 birds.

And Ashtabula’s reported 2017 spring season opening day kill of 97 birds places it close to the pinnacle of all of the state’s other 87 counties, too. On the April 24th spring season opener for all but the five extreme Northeast Ohio counties the leaders were Coshocton County with 123 birds; Tuscarawas County with 115 birds; and Guernsey County with 108 birds.

Just behind Ashtabula County and its 97 birds were Harrison and Adams counties with 92 birds each, and Carroll County with 91 birds.

As for the other four Northeast Ohio counties, the statistics for their May 1st spring season opener (with their respective 2016 opening day figures in parentheses) were: Cuyahoga – one (two); Geauga – 46 (36); Lake – 15 (six); and Trumbull – 57 (72).

The one-week delayed start for the spring wild turkey hunting-season opener was brought about by years of lobbying by many sportsmen in Northeast Ohio. It was their argument that the state’s Snow Belt region stands apart meteorologically from the rest of Ohio. So much so that there’s a biological hiccup in when hens breed and gobblers talk that is not seen elsewhere around Ohio.

Yet Monday’s delayed opener was hardly a pleasant sit with on-off rain showers that often times produced a steady drumbeat on the fabric of my ground blind, situated in Ashtabula County. I did not hear a single bird and only three shots, each coming before 9 a.m.

In any event, the spring wild turkey hunting season for the so-named “South Zone” runs through May 21st. Hunting hours are 30 minutes before sunrise until noon through May 7th, and then one-half hour before sunrise until sunset beginning May 8th until the South Zone season ends May 21st.
For the five-county “Northeast Zone-only” the spring wild turkey-hunting season runs through May 28th. Hunting hours here are 30 minutes before sunrise until noon through May 14th and then from 30 minutes before sunrise until sunset from May 15th through the end of the Northeast Zone-only season on May 28th.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn