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Ohio Landowner, Hunter Reacts to New Regulations

November 22, 2011
By Brenda Layman , Ohio Valley Outdoors

Rick Milazzo was born in Port Clinton, Ohio. He went to school in Bowling Green. Although he officially resides in Pennsylvania, he owns a condo in Port Clinton and 125 acres in Belmont County. He loves Ohio, and he loves deer hunting on his Buckeye State property. Recently Milazzo received a phone call from a neighbor who had read a news article regarding a change in the licensing regulations for Ohio hunters.

The neighbor advised Milazzo that nonresident landowners are now required to purchase hunting licenses. Milazzo was surprised, and he was also unhappy. Why, he wondered, had this change been made? Why hadn't he had any opportunity to voice his opinion about it? He called the Ohio Department of Natural Resources to find out more about the situation. I spoke with Milazzo about his experience.

Although he was able to speak with an ODNR official, Milazzo was not satisfied. "The money, to me, is not the issue. It's the principal," he said. "I understand that it's my responsibility to read the regulations, but I'm not sure I would have noticed that subtle, one word change."

According to ODNR, "These new provisions were passed via Ohio's budget bill and went into effect on July 1, 2011." Landowners who do not reside in Ohio are required to purchase nonresident licenses to hunt, trap or fish in Ohio. The Ohio Division of Wildlife is a self-funded agency. It relies upon revenue from the sale of hunting and fishing licenses in order to carry out its mission of conserving Ohio's wildlife resources. Estimated additional revenue from the sale of nonresident landowner licenses is approximately $300,000 - $350,000.

"I love Ohio," said Milazzo. "It's a great place. That's why I own property here. I've got no issue with the ODNR. I never had. But to be treated as a nonresident is a tough pill to swallow." Milazzo received no notification regarding the change. "If my neighbor hadn't pointed it out, I might not have known," he said. "I would have been in the stand without the required license."

I spoke with Vicki Ervin, Communications Manager for the ODW. Ervin said, "I understand Mr. Milazzo's frustration with the situation, but we had no way to contact these folks. We don't even know, at this point, who this is going to impact. We sent out press releases so that people would know about the change." Ervin pointed out that Ohio is a premier deer hunting destination, and that people from all over travel to the state to hunt. "Those folks need to pay for a license," she said.

Fact Box

"I've got no issue with the ODNR. I never had. But to be treated as a nonresident is a tough pill to swallow."

Rick Milazzo

"Ohio is one of few states that exempts landowners from licenses and permits and our, nonresident licenses and permits are far less expensive than other top deer hunting states. A non-resident may hunt deer of either sex in Ohio for $149, a very competitive price when compared to other states." The nonresident license/permits cost is $395.00 in Kansas, $567.00 in Iowa, $473.25 in Illinois, $190.00 in Kentucky, $450.00 in Missouri, and $320.00 in Wisconsin (Nonresident landowner requirements to hunt, fish and trap in Ohio, ODNR, 2011).

Even though Rick Milazzo considers himself an Ohioan by birth, history, and property ownership, he is not a resident according to Ohio law. Despite his deep roots in Ohio soil and ongoing connection with the state, ODW does not differentiate between landowners like Milazzo and people from any other state who purchase property in Ohio.

Ervin said, "I'm sorry that Mr. Milazzo had an unsatisfactory experience when he called our office. Customer service is number one with us, and we value our visitors. I hope he will still come to Ohio to enjoy his property and hunt and fish."

Milazzo's says the change isn't enough to keep him away. "I own more property in Ohio than I own where I live," he said. "I pay taxes, and when I'm in Ohio I buy everything local, from the local bow shop, the grocery stores. I don't mind paying for conservation; I've been buying licenses since I was 10 years old. I'll definitely keep hunting in Ohio."

For current information regarding Ohio hunting and fishing regulations, contact The Ohio Division of Wildlife at 614-265-6300 or visit the ODNR website at



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