Ohio DNR would do well to mimick Michigan's pheasant program

Steve PollickFew of us here in the Buckeye State would admit that anything good could cross the northern border from WolverineLand, at least when college football tensions are strung high.

But it says here that the Michigan DNR is moving along with a program that the Ohio DNR’s Division of Wildlife would do well to adopt. It is the Michigan Pheasant Restoration Initiative.

It is a conservation plan to restore and enhance Michigan pheasant habitat, populations, and hunting opportunity on private and public lands. It endeavors to accomplish this through public-private cooperatives that improve habitat for pheasants and other wildlife on a landscape (emphasis mine) level. The MPRI works by acquiring state and federal resources to assist landowners in the cooperatives to improve wildlife habitat on their property and by improving habitat on selected state game areas, recreation areas, or other public lands.

Already in southeast Michigan’s Lenawee County the Lake Hudson Pheasant Cooperative is hard at work with multiple Pheasants Forever chapters and others to rebuild habitat favorable to ring-necked pheasants. The PF folks provide labor and funds for public habitat improvements – native grasses, wildflowers, food plots – that the MDNR says it cannot afford.

You can get more details on the MDNR Web site, but the point here is that Ohio is long overdue to try something big and imaginative, such as the Michigan project. Michigan historically paled as a pheasant state to Ohio, where at one time trainloads of hunters including such luminaries as Hollywood giant Clark Gable used to flock into Wood County among others to purse plentiful ring-necked pheasants.

Nowadays, despite the singular efforts of PF chapters in Ohio, in most formerly pheasant-rich zones even seeing a ringneck draws comment, let alone hunting one.

Sure, it’s complicated. But the Ohio DNR is sitting on its hands on this one, preferring to take the easy way out by promoting  deer, Canada geese, and turkeys and while slow-walking ringneck programs, among other upland game. It is choosing to lead from the caboose, not the locomotive. If it does have a pheasant initiative that rivals or betters the one in Michigan, why aren’t they telling anyone?

Categories: Ohio – Steve Pollick

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