Saturday, January 28th, 2023
Saturday, January 28th, 2023

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Sportsmen Since 1967

Private land access at top of DNR priority list

Columbus – Ask any five deer hunters in Ohio to name their No. 1
frustration and three of them will mention the word “access.”

While not in any way a scientific finding, the DNR Division of
Wildlife acknowledges that access, particularly to private land, is
a relatively big issue to the state’s deer hunters. Hunter surveys
have told them so.

Private land accessibility is a problem in need of a solution,
Division of Wildlife managers acknowledge. The issue is a major
point of emphasis for Chief Dave Graham’s administration this year,
the rule-making Ohio Wildlife Council was told earlier this
month.

“Most of us know, if you can’t get (to the deer on private
land), you can’t kill them,” said Dave Risley, the Division of
Wildlife’s administrator for wildlife management and research.

The Division of Wildlife, Risley said, realizes that private
land issues are becoming more important in managing an ever
burgeoning deer herd.

The Ohio Farm Bureau last year asked for a reduced statewide
herd of 250,000 (down from 675,000) due to increasing crop damage
being suffered by its members.

Hunters complain that they have less places to hunt these days
because private landowners won’t let them cross their property
lines. The solution, as always, lies somewhere in the middle.

To that end, Risley said he plans this year to facilitate the
formation of a panel that would include representatives from the
Farm Bureau, the Ohio Farmer’s Union, and average hunters and
farmers to offer solutions.

“The question that needs to be answered is ‘what would it take
to get better access on private lands, particularly where we have
(deer population) issues?’” Risley said.

An early idea is the creation of some type of Web-based solution
that would match hunters with landowners experiencing problems with
crop damage.

“I don’t know what this will cost, $50,000, $100,000 a year?”
Risley said. “But, I would be willing to pay for it out of my
budget. I think it would help (deer) management. And, I think it
would help with recruitment and retention (of hunters). It just
makes sense.”

Under Risley’s plan, the Division of Wildlife would not be
represented on the discussion panel.

“I’d really like to see (a solution) that is brokered outside of
state government,” he said. “I think that will help it
succeed.”

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