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Ohio Sportsmen Need to React!

April 21, 2017
By John Hageman , Ohio Valley Outdoors

Editor's Note:

As Editor of one of Ohio's popular hunting and fishing print publications, and a member of the Outdoor Writers of Ohio, I feel compelled to pass along the following information that shows how politics are influencing how our Ohio Division of Wildlife is responding to a shortfall of funding that could simply be helped by small increases that have been proposed in license fees. Sportsmen need to be heard! Also, see the attached letter to Governor Kasich, ODNR Director Zehringer and members of the Ohio General Assembly from members of the Ohio Wildlife Council. - Larry Claypool, OVO Editor

I am passing along some information to you who have the potential to reach lots of people quickly and alert sportsmen of back-stabbing politics at its worst that is happening in Columbus.

Article Photos

This 10-point buck was taken last fall by Laurie Ellis in Harrison County, Ohio. Sportsmen groups have proposed a $3 hike in hunting and fishing licenses in Ohio to help offset funding cuts.

At the end of last month, The Sportsmen's Alliance announced the support of over 20 Ohio conservation groups who agree that there is a need for increased income for the Division of Wildlife, in the form of modest ($3) license hikes for resident fishermen and hunters and prices closer to market rates charged to non-resident sportsmen.

The Ohio Wildlife Legislative Council followed suit with an almost unprecedented letter (see attached) to the Governor, Director of Natural Resources, Legislators and others of their support of these increases.

Since then, the ODNR Director has responded that the ODNR sees no need for an increase, a position that supports Governor Kasich's party line on no "tax increases" (Admission/User fees are not taxes).

The twist is that the ODNR Director's office is insisting that the Chief of the Division of Wildlife read a prepared statement saying as much-forcing him to lie or defy an order from a superior.

Greater income could be used to regain personnel (such as a wildlife officer in every county); game and fish research projects, inland fish stocking levels, pheasant releases, restoration of work units to maintain wildlife areas; shooting range improvements, boating access and exotic and endangered species management to name a few.

Under the approving watch of Director Zehringer, there is a behind the scenes effort taking place by ODNR Assistant Directors Fred Shimp and Gary Obermiller to consolidate the Division of Wildlife funds into the ODNR general revenue fund. They are first planning to combine Division of Wildlife officers with their already finished hybridization force of Watercraft and Parks to create ODNR Officers. These guys are not necessarily interchangeable, at certainly not all interested in switching duties.

This goal of this ploy (tried unsuccessfully multiple times in the past) is designed to siphon away some of the Division of Wildlife budget, which is 96% funded through the successful formula of participator-driven earmarked license fees, tags and stamps paid by sportsmen to hunt, fish and trap. They lust to share them with the divisions that are less well funded through no fault of the Division of Wildlife. The Division of Wildlife would lose millions of dollars of Federal funding if money was diverted for other uses to non-fish & wildlife-related programs.

We need to bring this into the light of day and flood state legislators with arguments for the license increase and AGAINST the consolidation of the ODNR Divisions, it needs to be done now! DO NOT contact the ODNR communicator asking for comments about the license increase, because they will refer you to the Chief, who will have to read their prepared statement opposing the increase.

- John Hageman is an OVO Contributing Writer and Outdoor Writers of Ohio member and Past President

 
 

 

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