Proposed small game and migratory bird hunting seasons that begin in the fall of 2020 were presented to the Ohio Wildlife Council on Wednesday, Jan. 15, according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources Division of Wildlife. Included among the proposals are several changes recommended to increase hunting opportunities for those who enjoy spending time in Ohio’s great outdoors.
“The proposed hunting season recommendations are developed by Division of Wildlife biologists and combine public input with the best species population science available,” said Division of Wildlife Chief Kendra Wecker. “Population safeguards are designed to support the important activities of hunting and trapping while sustaining Ohio’s wildlife. We are proud to continue serving all Ohioans and look forward to another bountiful year for sportsmen and women.”
A change from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service provides additional waterfowl hunting days to members of the U.S. armed forces. In response, it was proposed on Wednesday to permit active military and veterans to hunt during the two-day youth waterfowl season, Oct. 3-4. The opening date for waterfowl hunting in the north zone was proposed to start one week later, Oct. 24, allowing for more November hunting days later in the season. It was also proposed to reduce the daily bag limit for scaup to one bird during the first 15 days of the season, and two birds during the last 45 days of the season in the south zone, north zone, and Lake Erie marsh zone, as required in the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service season framework.
New proposals include opening the 2021 spring turkey season on Saturday rather than Monday in both the south zone and northeast zone. This proposal is designed to provide two additional weekend days for wild turkey hunters. The south zone opening date was proposed for April 24, 2021, and the northeast zone opening date was proposed for May 1, 2021. The 2021 youth turkey hunting season dates were proposed for April 17-18, statewide.
New proposals also include requiring a fur taker permit for coyote hunting and trapping, and adding coyote to the furbearer trapping season. This proposal was made to better align with other furbearer hunting and trapping regulations, and will ensure proper training will be completed prior to trapping coyote by requiring the fulfillment of a trapper education course. Ohio resident landowners are not required to have a hunting license or fur taker permit when hunting or trapping on land they own.
It was further proposed to close quail hunting on all state-owned or controlled public hunting areas, except for Tri-Valley Wildlife Area and controlled hunts on Crown City Wildlife Area. The quail bag limit was proposed to be reduced to two birds. Ruffed grouse hunting dates were proposed to be shortened from Oct. 10 to Nov. 29 on state-owned or controlled public hunting areas, and from Oct. 10 to Jan. 1, 2021, on private land. The ruffed grouse bag limit was proposed to be reduced to one bird. Quail and ruffed grouse regulations were proposed to better conserve the current population of birds that have been in decline for several years.
A complete list of proposed hunting season dates for 2020-2021 are available at wildohio.gov. Proposals concerning Ohio’s white-tailed deer hunting seasons will be presented at the next Ohio Wildlife Council meeting, scheduled for Wednesday, Feb. 19.
Ohioans are encouraged to provide comments on the proposed rule changes and may do so in person or online. In-person comments can be submitted during the weeklong open house period from March 2-6, at any Division of Wildlife district office. Online submissions can be made at wildohio.gov beginning Feb. 21.
The Ohio Wildlife Council is an eight-member board that approves all Ohio Division of Wildlife proposed rules and regulations. Council meetings are open to the public. Individuals interested in providing comments are asked to call 614-265-6304 at least two days prior to the meeting to register. All comments are required to be three minutes or less.
A statewide hearing on all proposed rules will be held at the Division of Wildlife’s District One office on Wednesday, March 25 at 9 a.m. The office is located at 1500 Dublin Road, Columbus 43215.
There are several proposed changes that I believe are in the right direction, as well as a few controversial proposals. On a personal note, I have always liked that the spring turkey season has always opened on a Monday as it kept the hunter traffic down on the opener. However, finally having the opener on a Saturday is fair to give all hunters a chance to score on the easier birds without having to miss work or school.
I know there are a lot of people upset with the proposal to require coyote hunters and trappers to obtain a fur takers permit. I’m just glad they still have the landowners exemption as I raise sheep and I know how devastating these critters can be on farm animals and pets. I am also very pleased to see that they are finally giving me back my duck season in early November! I’m not sure I am happy that they found those days to add on in early November by making the opener a week later but it is a compromise that I am willing to make to get that week during Veteran’s Day back during the season.
I am also very pleased that the opener for both the south and north zone duck seasons are back on the same day as well. This will spread out the hunters throughout the state instead of tempting the south zone hunters to travel north for that opener making those waterways extra crowded.
The only other concern I had was the challenge it is going to create only being allowed to harvest one bluebill the first fifteen days of the season. Hunters will have to be on their toes when trying to identify the difference between bluebills and ringbills flying through the decoys at Mach 5 in early November. However, if the reduction is necessary to help the bluebill numbers recover, then so be it.
No matter what your feelings are about some of the proposals, be sure to express your opinions online or at the open houses.
Until next time, Good Hunting and Good Fishing!
Ken Parrott is an Agricultural Science teacher with Northmor High School.