In the Open Ohio Division of Wildlife open houses slated for March 7

stars-storyIn the Open
By Jim Freeman

Ohio Division of Wildlife open houses slated for March 7

If you like or, as is more often the case it seems, don’t like, the direction that Ohio’s Division of Wildlife is heading, the upcoming open house event is your chance to let your voice be heard.

Public open houses will be held Saturday, March 7 from noon to 3 p.m. at all district offices. Here in southeastern Ohio that means the District 4 office at 360 East State Street, Athens. It is hard to miss the District 4 office, it is pretty much the only office with a pond in front of it.

Open houses give the public an opportunity to view and discuss proposed fishing, hunting and trapping regulations with the ODNR Division of Wildlife officials. For Ohioans who are unable to attend an open house, comments will be accepted online at wildohio.gov. The online form will be available until Sunday, March 8.

Undoubtedly most people will be commenting on deer hunting regulations.

The division recently proposed the following dates for upcoming deer seasons: deer archery season, Sept. 26-Feb. 7, 2016; youth deer gun season, Oct. 10-11; deer gun season, Nov. 30-Dec. 6, and Dec. 26-27; muzzleloader deer season, Jan. 2-5, 2016. The early antlerless-only deer muzzleloader season is going away, and the youth deer gun season is moved to early October (and out of the rut), gun hunters get an additional two-day bonus season the weekend after Christmas and muzzleloader and archery seasons are largely unchanged.

Meigs and Gallia counties will be two-deer counties, with an overall trend towards lower bag limits and a statewide bag limit of six deer, with only one antlerless buck.

A statewide hearing on all of the proposed rules will be held at the ODNR Division of Wildlife’s District One office on Thursday, March 19, at 9 a.m. The office is located at 1500 Dublin Road, Columbus, Ohio 43215.

The Ohio Wildlife Council is an eight-member board that approves all of the ODNR Division of Wildlife proposed rules and regulations. The council will vote on the proposed rules and season dates during its meeting on Wednesday, April 8, after considering public input. Small game and wild turkey hunting season dates were proposed at the January council meeting and will also be voted on by the council on April 8.

Council meetings are open to the public. Individuals who want to provide comments on a topic that is currently being considered by council are asked to preregister at least two days prior to the meeting by calling 614-265-6304. All comments are required to be three minutes or less.

Lately it seems like the Ohio Division of Wildlife has become the Ohio Division of Deer Hunting, with many hunters forgetting that there are plenty of other great hunting opportunities; ones that don’t particularly cost a lot of money or require specialized equipment or lots of travel. The best example of that may be squirrel hunting.

In other matters, Ohio’s 2015 hunting and fishing licenses are officially on sale and 2014 licenses are no longer valid.

Also, trout stocking will be held at Forked Run Lake on March 13, Lake Alma on March 27, and Dow Lake on April 2.

Jim Freeman is the wildlife specialist for the Meigs Soil and Water Conservation District. He can be contacted weekdays at 740-992-4282 or at jim.freeman@oh.nacdnet.net