In the Open: What’s Going on in Ohio Wildlife These Days?

stars-storyBy Jim Freeman

Small changes in the upcoming deer season, an emphasis on helping pollinators, and local workshops are some the wildlife-related events going on these days.

Ohio’s deer hunters would see little change this upcoming season under proposals presented to Ohio’s Wildlife Council earlier this week.

About the only change would be moving the “bonus” two-day gun season to Wednesday and Thursday, instead of Saturday and Sunday. One can speculate that is because Christmas Eve and Christmas Day fall on Saturday and Sunday this year.

If approved, the deer archery season would start Sept. 24 and go through Feb. 5, 2017. The youth deer gun season will be the weekend of Nov. 19-20, followed by the traditional deer gun season starting Monday, Nov. 28 and going through Sunday, Dec. 4. Deer muzzleloader season will be Jan. 14-17, 2017.

County bag limits will remain the same and the statewide bag limit will remain at six deer, with only one antlered deer. Gallia and Meigs counties would remain two-deer counties.

The Ohio Wildlife Council will vote on all proposals after receiving public input. An open house to receive public comments about hunting, trapping and fishing regulations and wildlife issues will be held on Saturday, March 5, at the ODNR-Division of Wildlife District Four office in Athens. Directions to the open houses can be found at or by calling 800-WILDLIFE (945-3543).

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 The online form will be available until Sunday, March 6.

A big push this year in conservation involves pollinators, particularly the Monarch butterfly.

Monarch butterfly populations and their habitat are in decline throughout North America from Canada to Mexico, and Ohio has been identified as a priority state for Monarch migration and fourth-generation Monarchs. The fourth-generation Monarchs are those butterflies who will travel back to Mexico, spend the winter there, and start the Monarch life cycle all over again before arriving back in Ohio the next summer.

This past May the Pollinator Health Task Force tasked all states to work through governmental and private actions to restore or create pollinator habitat with the goal of 7 million acres across the United States over the next five years. Of course this would benefit all pollinators, including honey bees.

While Monarchs may be locally plentiful, they are dependent upon a limited number of plant types for food and nesting (primarily milkweeds), and rely on a small area in Mexico that is threatened by illegal logging.

The Ohio Pollinator Habitat Initiative is working with multiple partners throughout the state to meet Ohio’s portion of the goal. Its growing list of partners includes the Ohio Department of Transportation, American Electric Power, Pheasants Forever, ODNR-Division of Wildlife, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Ohio Soil and Water Conservation Districts, Ohio State University Extension Service and others.

For more information about the Ohio Pollinator Habitat Initiative, contact the Ohio Department of Natural Resources-Division of Wildlife, or contact me at the email address below.

The Meigs Soil and Water Conservation District has a slew of wildlife and conservation-related events slated for this spring including a pond clinic in April, a forestry workshop in May (dates and locations to be announced) and a Wildlife Habitat/Pollinator Workshop for Thursday, June 2 at the Meigs SWCD Conservation Area. Stay tuned for more information on these and other events.

Jim Freeman is the wildlife specialist for the Meigs Soil and Water Conservation District. His column, In the Open, generally appears every other weekend. He can be contacted weekdays at 740-992-4282 or at [email protected]