Widener supports revised deer amendments by DNR
Columbus — State Sen. Chris Widener, R-Springfield, who had been critical of several proposed hunting rule changes, supports the revisions made by Ohio DNR’s Division of Wildlife.
In April, Widener had criticized the DNR on both specific proposals, namely the elimination of the state’s late deer gun season, and the way the agency followed the rule-changing process (Ohio Outdoor News, April 26).
In a rare move, the DNR Division of Wildlife reversed course and eliminated the proposed two-day shotgun season in December and proposed a two-day gun hunt on Jan. 3-4, 2014, immediately preceding the statewide muzzleloader season (Jan. 5-7, 2014).
However, the Ohio Wildlife Council rejected the new amendments at its May 15 meeting.
Widener, providing statement via email after that meeting, was complimentary of the division.
“The Division has worked hard to revise its proposal based on statewide input,” said Widener, whose initial criticisms included the charge that the initial proposals, because of their timing, couldn’t have taken into account public comment from a series of meetings statewide.
“A reasonable rules package was presented to the Wildlife Council this week,” Widener said. “And now the entire 2013 hunting season, which will manage wildlife to reduce auto accidents, benefit 550,000 hunters and support 20,000 Ohio jobs rests in the hands of eight people on this Council. They should accept the Division of Wildlife’s recommendations.”
That touches on another of Widener’s initial criticisms. He had opposed more restrictive changes in bag limits for 13 counties in southern and southeastern Ohio (where the limit would have dropped from six deer to two or three), and accused the DNR of making changes based on anecdote rather than science.
The DNR adjusted its proposal to adjust the bag limits in Hocking, Perry, and Ross counties to four deer. Their initial proposal was for a three-deer limit.
The Ohio Farm Bureau Federation also stood behind the revised changes.
“Deer cause millions of dollars in crop damage every year in Ohio, and our state is one of the highest risk states for automobile accidents cause by deer collisions,” said John C. Fisher, executive vice president of the OFBF, in a statement. “We need hunting regulations that allow us to fight this costly and dangerous situation.”
In April, Widener put the brakes on DNR’s initial proposals, penning two letters that outlined his criticisms directly to DNR Director James Zehringer and Division of Wildlife Chief Scott Zody.
The eight-member Ohio Wildlife Council is next scheduled to meet on July 17 at 6:30 p.m. at the Wildlife District One Office in Columbus.