Local Outdoors News Briefs


Staff Reports



Help Save the Monarch Butterfly by Protecting Native Milkweed

COLUMBUS – The iconic monarch butterfly is vanishing from backyards throughout Ohio and the country. One way we can ensure future generations of monarch butterflies continue to visit flower gardens throughout our state is by protecting native milkweed plants, according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR).

Every year in the fall, monarch butterflies across the eastern U.S. and Canada begin a 3,000-mile-long journey down to wintering grounds in Mexico. In the spring, these same butterflies head back north, and delight us with their presence once again. However, this amazing journey would not be possible without milkweed, a group of plants critical to the survival of the monarch butterfly. As butterflies, monarchs can feed on the nectar of a number of different flowering plants, but as caterpillars, monarchs are entirely dependent on the availability of milkweed.

Monarch caterpillars hatch from eggs laid on milkweed plants and feed on the leaves of the plant as they grow. If these plants are mowed, removed or sprayed with pesticides or herbicides, the caterpillars will not survive. Protecting these plants, especially during the egg-laying period from July through September, helps both monarch butterflies and caterpillars continue their life cycle and ultimately results in more monarch butterflies that can complete their journey to Mexico and back.

In the past, milkweed was viewed as a toxic weed. Today, we know that milkweed is a very important group of native plants, which helps support many species of wildlife, including monarch butterflies. People can learn more about ways to help ensure these beautiful butterflies are around for generations to come by visiting the Monarch Joint Venture at: monarchjointventure.org.

Landowners who want to help by creating habitat for monarch butterflies and other pollinators are encouraged to contact an ODNR Division of Wildlife private lands biologist at their district office by calling 800-WILDLIFE or by visiting wildohio.gov.

Minnesota Artist Bob Hautman Wins 2017 Federal Duck Stamp Contest

WASHINGTON – Bob Hautman, an artist from Delano, Minn., is the winner of the 2017 Federal Duck Stamp Art Contest. The announcement was made today by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Principal Deputy Director Greg Sheehan at the annual art contest, held at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point at the Noel Fine Arts Center.

Hautman’s acrylic painting of a pair of mallards will be made into the 2018-2019 Federal Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation Stamp, or Duck Stamp, which will go on sale in late June 2018. The Service produces the Federal Duck Stamp, which sells for $25 and raises nearly $40 million each year to provide critical funds to conserve and protect wetland habitats in the National Wildlife Refuge System for the benefit of wildlife and the enjoyment of people.

“Our nation’s waterfowl hunters and other sportsmen and women have a long tradition of leading the way in conserving wildlife and habitat,” said U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke. “There is no better example of this than the Duck Stamp, one of the most successful conservation programs in U.S. history, through which hunters have contributed hundreds of millions of dollars since its inception eight decades ago.”

“Congratulations to Bob Hautman on his win today,” Sheehan said. “He is part of a collection of talented wildlife artists whose work has helped conserve habitat not just for waterfowl, but for a vast diversity of wildlife, and helped create and maintain hundreds of places where hunters, anglers and outdoors enthusiasts of all stripes can enjoy their passion.”

This is Hautman’s third Federal Duck Stamp Contest win. His art previously appeared on the 1997-1998 and 2001-2002 Federal Duck Stamps.

The winning 2017 Federal Duck Stamp art, an acrylic painting of a pair of mallards by Minnesota artist Bob Hautman

Hautman’s brothers, Jim and Joe, are also multiple Duck Stamp artists, having each won the contest five times.

Of 215 entries in this year’s competition, 12 entries made it to the final round of judging today. Eligible species for this year’s Federal Duck Stamp Contest were the mallard, gadwall, cinnamon teal, blue-winged teal and harlequin duck.

Greg Alexander of Ashland, Wis., placed second with his acrylic painting of a cinnamon teal; Christine Clayton of Sidney, Ohio, took third place with her oil painting of a blue-winged teal.

In 2000, Clayton won the National Junior Duck Stamp Art Contest with a painting of a northern pintail. She was 17 at the time.

The judges for this year’s Federal Duck Stamp Contest were: Dr. Jacob Straub, a waterfowl biologist and the Wetlands and Waterfowl Conservation Chair in UW-Stevens Point’s College of Natural Resources; Jane Kim, an artist and science illustrator; Robert Spoerl, a lifelong hunter and conservationist with a passion for waterfowl; Tim Pearson, an artist – and flyfishing guide – who paints mostly in watercolors, inspired by the waters and surrounding wilderness of Lake Superior; and Richard Prager, an avid collector of Federal and Junior Duck Stamps and Duck Stamp remarques and original artwork.

“A huge thank-you goes to the faculty, staff and students of the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point for hosting the contest this year,” said Sheehan. “The UW-Stevens Point’s College of Natural Resources is one of the nation’s premier natural resources programs and has historical connections with the Service as the alma mater of a number of our staff and top agency leaders.”

Waterfowl hunters age 16 and older are required to purchase and carry the current Federal Duck Stamp. Many non-hunters, including birdwatchers, conservationists, stamp collectors and others also purchase the stamp in support of habitat conservation. Additionally, a current Federal Duck Stamp can be used for free admission to any national wildlife refuge that charges an entry fee.

Ninety-eight percent of the proceeds from sales of the Federal Duck Stamp go to the Migratory Bird Conservation Fund, which supports the protection of migratory bird habitat within the National Wildlife Refuge System.

You can contribute to conservation and America’s great conservation tradition by buying Federal Duck Stamps at many national wildlife refuges, sporting goods stores and other retailers, through the U.S. Postal Service, or online at http://www.fws.gov/birds/get-involved/duck-stamp/buy-duck-stamp.php.

A gallery of the 2017 Federal Duck Stamp Art Contest entries is at: https://www.flickr.com/photos/usfwshq/sets/72157686451028213/.

Initial Results of 2017 Lake Erie Walleye and Yellow Perch Hatches Released

COLUMBUS – Early data gathered by wildlife agencies in the western basin of Lake Erie indicate that both the walleye and yellow perch hatches were near their annual average, according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR).

Each year in August, wildlife agencies from around the western basin of Lake Erie sample the waters using bottom trawls in search of young of the year walleye and yellow perch. Data from these bottom trawls are combined into a basin-wide index, and fisheries biologists compare the figures to previous years to estimate the success of the walleye and yellow perch hatches. Biologists from the ODNR Division of Wildlife conducted bottom trawling surveys at nearly 40 sampling locations across Ohio waters of the western basin. This information provide biologists with an estimate of how many young fish will enter the fishable population two years later.

Based upon results from the August trawl surveys, the 2017 yellow perch hatch was successful in Ohio waters of the western basin. Initial results found 280 yellow perch per hectare compared to the 20-year average of 300 yellow perch per hectare. Five good yellow perch hatches in a row should help the perch population in the western basin continue to rebuild and lead to quality yellow perch fishing over the next several years.

The 2017 walleye hatch was near the 20-year average in Ohio waters of the western basin. Average to excellent hatches from three of the past four years have resulted in an abundance of young walleye to complement the older and larger fish that make up the current Lake Erie walleye population. Results from Ohio’s surveys found 21 walleye per hectare. The average since 1998 is 22 walleye per hectare.

During the upcoming months, Ohio and Ontario bottom trawl data will be combined to estimate the basin-wide hatches of walleye and yellow perch. These estimates will be used as part of the annual process to determine jurisdictional quotas.

Information on the ODNR Division of Wildlife’s Lake Erie research and management programs, fisheries resources, fishing reports, and maps and links to other Lake Erie web resources are available at wildohio.gov.

September 12, 2017 field reports from ODNR Division of Wildlife officers

Central Ohio – Wildlife District One

While on patrol during the 2016 deer gun season, State Wildlife Officer Maurice Irish, assigned to Delaware County, made contact with a deer hunter who was on his way in for lunch after an unsuccessful morning. The man handed Officer Irish his hunting license and two unfilled deer permits. During the conversation, the man told Officer Irish that he had been having a slow year, only killing one deer so far. He went on to say he killed four deer the year before. Game check records indicated the man had not checked in any deer during the 2016 season and had only checked in two deer during the 2015 season. After further investigation, the man admitted to killing a total of three deer over two seasons that he failed to check in. He appeared in Delaware Municipal Court and was ordered to pay several hundred dollars in fines and court costs.

Camping Now Available at Independence Dam State Park

25 seasonal sites available on walk-in basis

DEFIANCE, OH – Camping has returned to Independence Dam State Park, according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR). Perfect for an early fall camping getaway, the park’s 25 non-electric campsites are situated in a heavily wooded area between the Maumee River and the Maumee-Erie Canal.

The park’s camping area features extra-large sites complete with fire rings and picnic tables. Non-potable water and portable restroom facilities are located nearby. Currently, all campsites are available until Tuesday, Oct. 31, on a first-come, first-served basis, with self-registration located at the kiosk at the entrance to the campground. Next year, these sites will be available to reserve online, and camping will reopen on Tuesday, May 1, 2018.

While camping, visitors may also enjoy a variety of outdoor pursuits, including fishing, hunting and paddling on the Maumee River State Scenic River. The campground is also a great spot to relax by the campfire, gaze up at the night sky and enjoy the sounds of nature.

The campground is located at 27722 State Route 424 in Defiance. To learn more about Independence Dam State Park, contact the office at 419-956-1368 or visit parks.ohiodnr.gov/independencedam.

The ODNR Division of Parks and Watercraft provides exceptional outdoor recreation and boating opportunities by balancing outstanding customer service, education, protection and conservation of Ohio’s state parks and waterways.

Grants Available to Develop Wildlife Education Programs

Project WILD-certified educators may apply for funds to support wildlife education

COLUMBUS – Ohio educators who have successfully used Project WILD in their classrooms and informal educational programs can now provide students with additional hands-on learning about wildlife and habitat through grants, according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR).

Grants totaling $500 each will be awarded on a competitive basis to 40 schools or organizations currently participating in Project WILD, a supplemental environmental education curriculum for preschool through 12th grades. The grants will be awarded on a first-come, first-served basis. Only one grant per project site is allowed per state fiscal year, which runs July 1 through June 30.

Project WILD uses wildlife lessons and wildlife management concepts to teach traditional school subjects, such as math, science and language arts. Now in its 13th year, this grant program provides educators with funding to purchase the materials, equipment and support activities needed to develop wildlife habitat improvement projects or wildlife education programs.

A Wildlife Education project or program allows educators to take lesson plans outdoors, bringing conservation education concepts to life for students. An added benefit can be the improvement of habitat for wildlife, which enhances outdoor learning experiences. For the first time, schools and other educational organizations can use funds to support wildlife education inside the classroom through the purchase of materials, equipment, field trips and professional development for educators. This broadened scope allows more flexibility for the educator to incorporate information about Ohio’s native wildlife into their lessons and programs.

The grants are awarded to applicants that best meet the Wildlife Education grant criteria. Criteria includes participation in one of Ohio’s Project WILD programs, the dissemination of factual and science-based information on native Ohio wildlife, involvement of the students in the projects as much as possible and correlation of the projects to the educator’s curriculum or program goals. Recipients must also turn in a final report at the end of their project.

Funding for the Wildlife Education grant program comes from the sale of Ohio hunting and fishing licenses.

Interested educators should submit an application until June 30, 2018, to the ODNR Division of Wildlife, Outdoor Education Section, 2045 Morse Road, Building G, Columbus, Ohio 43229. Complete details of the grant program and an application packet can be found at wildohio.gov. To learn more about Project WILD or to find an area workshop, go to wildohio.gov or call 800-WILDLIFE.

Get Your Hunting License: Archery Season Coming Soon

COLUMBUS – Hunters will have their first opportunity to pursue white-tailed deer when archery season opens on Saturday, Sept. 30, according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR).

Ohio’s 2017-2018 deer seasons include:

Archery: Sept. 30, 2017-Feb. 4, 2018

Youth gun: Nov. 18-19

Gun: Nov. 27-Dec. 3, and Dec. 16-17

Muzzleloader: Jan. 6-9, 2018

Deer hunters will find the hunting regulations similar to last year, but bag limits were changed in certain counties.

County-wide bag limits have increased from two deer per county to three deer per county in Athens, Belmont, Carroll, Coshocton, Fairfield, Gallia, Guernsey, Harrison, Hocking, Jackson, Jefferson, Lawrence, Meigs, Monroe, Morgan, Muskingum, Noble, Perry, Tuscarawas, Vinton and Washington counties. These changes are designed to slow the rate of herd growth, while still allowing herds to grow.

County-wide bag limits have decreased from three deer per county to two deer per county in Allen, Defiance, Fulton, Henry, Paulding, Putnam and Williams counties. These changes are designed to encourage herd growth in these counties.

All other county bag limits remain the same. The statewide bag limit remains at six deer. Only one deer may be antlered, and a hunter cannot exceed a county bag limit.

New for the 2017-2018 hunting season, any straight-walled cartridge rifle with a minimum caliber of .357 to a maximum caliber of .50 is now allowed for hunting deer in Ohio. There have been three seasons of hunting deer with straight-walled cartridge rifles in Ohio with no biological impacts to the herd or additional hunter incidents.

Deer hunting hours are 30 minutes before sunrise to 30 minutes past sunset for all deer seasons. This includes gun and muzzleloader seasons. Additional details about deer hunting rules are contained in the 2017-2018 Ohio Hunting Regulations, available where licenses are sold or at wildohio.gov.

Licenses and permits can be purchased online at wildohio.gov and at hundreds of participating agents throughout the state.

The ODNR Division of Wildlife remains committed to properly managing Ohio’s deer populations through a combination of regulatory and programmatic changes. The goal of Ohio’s Deer Management Program is to provide a deer population which maximizes recreational opportunities, while minimizing conflicts with landowners and motorists.

Hunting is the best and most effective management tool for maintaining Ohio’s healthy deer population. Ohio ranks fifth nationally in resident hunters and 11th in the number of jobs associated with hunting-related industries. Hunting has a more than $853 million economic impact in Ohio through the sale of equipment, fuel, food, lodging and more, according to the National Shooting Sports Foundation’s Hunting in America: An Economic Force for Conservation publication.

Harrison County is Home to 2017 Ohio Tree Farm of the Year

Tour offered at tree farm on Oct. 21

COLUMBUS – Hepatica Falls Tree Farm, located in Harrison County in east-central Ohio and owned by Randy and Koral Clum, has been named 2017 Ohio Tree Farm of the Year by the Ohio Tree Farm Committee, according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR).

“Management of Ohio’s privately-owned woodlands is critical to the overall health and quality of Ohio’s forest lands,” said Robert Boyles, Ohio’s state forester. “The Tree Farm of the Year award is a recognition of outstanding woodland stewardship, and this year’s Tree Farm exemplifies the benefits of management.”

The Clums have actively managed their 152-acre woodland for the past 24 years since 1993. In the spring 2017 issue of The Ohio Woodland Journal, Koral Clum wrote an article about the tree farm, sharing that they divided the property into nine management units, from 3 acres up to 52 acres in size. The family applies different forest management techniques to each unit, resulting in an excellent venue to compare and contrast different forest practices, including a 4-acre area that they leave undisturbed as a way to display an unharvested stand as a comparison of managed and unmanaged forests.

The Clums are also professional consulting foresters, with the goal of promoting science-based forest management in Ohio’s forests. The Clums are active in the East Central Ohio Forestry Association, a regional group of woodland owners, the Society of American Foresters and the Ohio Chapter of the Association of Consulting Foresters.

A public field day is planned for Saturday, Oct. 21, from 10 a.m.-3 p.m., at the Hepatica Falls Tree Farm to highlight conservation practices with demonstrations by forestry and wildlife experts. The field day will be held rain or shine so people are encouraged to dress for the weather and for hiking in the woods. Parking will be located at the former Lakeland High School, just north of Freeport. Parking address: 77520 Freeport-Tippecanoe Road (State Route 800), Freeport 44907. Shuttle buses will provide transportation to the Hepatica Falls Tree Farm.

The Ohio Tree Farm Program was organized in 1946, bringing foresters and landowners together to apply the American Tree Farm System standards of sustainable forest management. The system includes 1,700 woodland owners across the state committed to caring for their land under a comprehensive plan developed by a professional forester. Landowners interested in the American Tree Farm System may visit ohiotreefarm.org.

The ODNR Division of Forestry works to promote the wise use and sustainable management of Ohio’s public and private woodlands. To learn more about Ohio’s woodlands, visit forestry.ohiodnr.gov.

Wayne County Wildlife Officer Awarded

Mississippi Flyway Council’s Ohio Officer of the Year

AKRON – State Wildlife Officer Aaron Brown, assigned to Wayne County, has been named Mississippi Flyway Waterfowl Protection Officer of the Year for Ohio by the Mississippi Flyway Council’s Law Enforcement Committee, according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR).

“Officer Brown is very deserving of the Mississippi Flyway Waterfowl Protection Officer of the Year Award,” said Eric Bear, Field Supervisor for the ODNR Division of Wildlife. “Wayne County boasts excellent waterfowl hunting opportunities in Ohio and Brown takes his responsibility of enforcing waterfowl hunting regulations very seriously.”

The Mississippi Flyway Council recognizes full time law enforcement officers from each state, province and region, who make outstanding contributions to the protection of waterfowl. Officer Brown was selected as the Ohio recipient this year.

Since 2014, State Wildlife Officer Brown has been assigned to the home county for the well-known Killbuck Marsh Wildlife Area. This wetland complex, measuring over 5,600 acres, is the largest inland marsh in the state. The majority of it is open to public waterfowl hunting and a section of it is also protected waterfowl refuge. “Officer Brown understands the need for public waterfowl opportunities and the need to set aside an area to protect migrating waterfowl. That is why he spends a large portion of his time patrolling and protecting the area,” noted Bear.

Additionally, Officer Brown works hard to educate Ohioans on waterfowl identification and habitat protection and he frequently takes part in local conservation activities and events.

Brown is a 1999 graduate of Slippery Rock High School in Slippery Rock, PA. In 2005, he received a Bachelor Degree from Slippery Rock University, majoring in Spanish and minoring in Communication. Pursuing an emphasis on Wildlife Studies, Brown graduated from Hocking College in 2009 with an Associate Degree in Wildlife Management. In addition to his passions revolving around waterfowl, Brown is an avid fly fisherman who enjoys tying his own flies. When he’s not casting a line, he is probably searching for “latest rare bird alert” near his home.

The Mississippi Flyway is composed of 14 states and three Canadian provinces. The Mississippi Flyway Council was established in 1952 to coordinate the management of migratory game birds in the Mississippi Flyway and to promote those activities of its members that serve the long-term benefit to the resources and the flyway as a whole.

More information about state wildlife officers and the ODNR Division of Wildlife can be found at wildohio.gov.

ODNR ensures a balance between wise use and protection of our natural resources for the benefit of all. Visit the ODNR website at ohiodnr.gov.

BoatUS: Don’t Miss the Deadline to Add Ice and Freeze Coverage to Your Boat’s Insurance Policy

ALEXANDRIA, Va., October 2, 2017 – In the winter, in northern states where freezing temperatures are the norm, boaters who put their boats into heated indoor storage have it made. With their boats warm and dry, they may have little concern for freeze-related damage to their engines. Winter storms can knock out power and heat, however, leading to ice forming inside the engine block and catastrophic engine failure. And if a boat’s engine is winterized by a do-it-yourselfer and freeze damage occurs, the owner could be on the hook for the damage. So what can you do to protect your boat over the winter?

Boat Owners Association of The United States (BoatUS) says ice and freeze coverage may be a smart option. Inexpensive and typically offered as a policy “rider” to boats stored in northern climates, it’s something to consider. BoatUS Marine Insurance offers the add-on coverage for as little as $25, but also advises that most insurers won’t offer the coverage once temperatures get cold, usually the end of October, so check with your insurer now.

Said BoatUS Vice President of Underwriting Mike Pellerin, “All it takes is a falling tree limb to take out power to a heated storage facility.” He also says that if a boat is winterized by a marina and damage occurs, “Most reputable marinas or yards will provide documentation that it professionally winterized the boat, which gives your insurance company someone to go to for damages. When a DIYer winterizes his or her boat and freeze damage occurs, the boat owner is responsible. Ice and freeze coverage provides protection that is very affordable.”

For more information on boat insurance or ice and freeze coverage, go to BoatUS.com/insurance or call 800-283-2883.

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Staff Reports