Ohio Outdoor News Cuffs & Collars – November 6, 2020
Division of Wildlife
Central Ohio – Wildlife District 1
State wildlife officer Tony Zerkle, assigned to Fairfield County, has been creatively working with conservation clubs to continue outdoor education for new hunters. In the past, larger groups of volunteers and first-time hunters would gather in a classroom setting and complete a Learn to Hunt course followed by a hunt. The clubs and officer Zerkle decided to reintroduce some of these past participants to other hunting opportunities and species. The club invited small groups (less than 10) of these participants to an outdoor setting that provided ample room for social distancing and gave them an opportunity to build on what they had previously learned. After a quick safety refresher and species overview, the participants took to the woods with their mentor to pursue squirrels. Take the time to share what you enjoy and take someone hunting or fishing.
State wildlife officer Josh Elster was contacted by a Pickaway County resident that had located an injured hawk on his property. The caller stated the hawk could not fly and appeared to have an injured wing as it was perched on a bee box. Officer Elster met with the landowner to look at the hawk, but it was nowhere to be found. The landowner witnessed the hawk try to fly and observed the injured wing. Officer Elster advised the landowner to call him if the bird was seen again or if he had any other issues on the property. About a week went by and officer Elster was contacted again by the landowner stating the hawk had returned and was again sitting on the bee box. The same wing appeared to be injured. Officer Elster advised he would try to catch the bird and have its injuries evaluated. Before officer Elster could arrive, the landowner informed him that the bird was walking along the warm season grass field and got out of sight. Officer Elster and the landowner agreed to keep an eye on it for the future.
Northwest Ohio – Wildlife District 2
In early August, state wildlife officer Craig Barr, assigned to Allen County, received a call about two dead white-tailed deer near Lima. The caller showed officer Barr the deer, but no cause of death could be determined. Officer Barr contacted several other nearby residents. They had not seen or heard of any other dead deer but said they would let him know if anything showed up. A few days later, one of those residents contacted officer Barr about a sick deer near his pond. Officer Barr was able to safely euthanize the deer and have it tested for disease. As suspected, it was positive for epizootic hemorrhagic disease (EHD). EHD is spread through the bites of tiny midges that flourish in muddy areas that develop during hot and dry weather. During the next several weeks, officer Barr and state wildlife officer Nathan Robinson, assigned to Van Wert County, investigated and documented numerous reports of dead or dying deer in the area.
Like detectives in city policy departments, Ohio Division of Wildlife investigators are assigned to examine several tasks, including injuries or damage occurred while hunting. During the 2019 deer gun season, a complaint was received regarding a hunter who allegedly fired a shot through the window of a residence. State wildlife officer Jason Porinchok, assigned to Putnam County, and state wildlife officer supervisor Troy Reimund responded to the complaint and located a hunter near the damaged home. Meanwhile, state wildlife investigator Jeremy Payne arrived at the location and discovered the bullet lodged in the ceiling of the residence. The bullet was sent to the Bureau of Criminal Investigation’s forensic lab, which confirmed it was fired from the gun seized from the hunter during the investigation. The suspect was charged with negligent hunting and paid $357 for a fine and court costs, along with $1,000 in restitution to the landowner for the damages.
Northeast Ohio – Wildlife District 3
While on patrol, state wildlife officer Craig Porter, assigned to Jefferson County, visited the Mingo Sportsman’s Club’s dog training grounds. The Buckeye Chapter of the North American Versatile Hunting Dog Association was holding a meet. This dedicated group of outdoor enthusiasts participate in these events with a variety of dog breeds and experience many different styles of hunting techniques. Officer Porter enjoyed the conversation with the members and explained the numerous roles with which wildlife officers are tasked. It was an interesting day for everyone involved.
Southeast Ohio – Wildlife District 4
During the summer of 2020, state wildlife officer Chris Gilkey, assigned to Meigs County, and state wildlife officer Ryan Donnelly, assigned to Washington County, contacted a raccoon hunter training his dog. The officers inquired about the man’s dog while also wanting to make sure he didn’t have a firearm during the closed season. The hunter stated that he knew the season hadn’t opened yet and invited the officers to check his truck. The officers looked in the truck and around the immediate area, but did not find a firearm. Once the dog treed a raccoon, the hunter moved his vehicle down the road and entered the woods. Officer Gilkey retrieved his K-9 partner, Mattis, from the vehicle and gave him the command to search for gunpowder residue. Mattis searched the overgrown field and brush for five minutes before disappearing from sight. The officers approached the area and found Mattis laying down on a rifle. The officers collected the firearm and waited on the hunter. When the hunter returned, he admitted he knew the season was not open. The suspect was issued a summons to court. The man paid fines and court costs, lost his hunting rights for one year, and forfeited his firearm.
Southwest Ohio – Wildlife District 5
State wildlife officer Jasmine Grossnickle, assigned to Miami County, watched two men fishing without permission in a quarry located in Troy. Officer Grossnickle contacted the men and informed them that they were not permitted to be on that property. Both men paid a $250 waiver in Miami County Municipal Court.
State wildlife officers are often the first person called when someone finds an injured animal. The county wildlife officer was not available in July for a call from Highland County involving an injured bald eagle. Indian Creek Wildlife Area Manager Randy Morgan contacted the caller and made plans to meet with him to see if they could find the bird. Once on site, it was apparent that a few more people would be needed to search for the bird. Fallsville Wildlife Area staff arrived and located the bird in a small wooded area in the Rocky Fork Lake region. Wildlife staff transported the eagle to RAPTOR, Inc., for observation and care. The eagle had sustained minor injuries and after rehabilitation the eagle will be returned to the wild near the site where it was found.