Let’s set the record straight

Editor:

In regard to Daniel Carson’s letter (“Hunting and managing wildlife misguided,” Nov. 29), at the Ohio Department of Natural Resources’ Division of Wildlife, we fully recognize that some people choose not to hunt and are opposed to this pastime. However, when emotional rhetoric overrides reason at the expense of accurate, factual commentary, the record must be corrected.

Firstly, this division is funded largely through the sale of licenses and permits purchased by hunter, trappers and fishermen. Tax revenue from Ohio’s general fund contributes less than 2 percent to our annual budget.

Secondly, we have never relocated deer to suburban areas. Yes, some people consider deer a nuisance, but many others enjoy watching them, just as they enjoy watching other wildlife.

That is why we have reintroduced a number of species to Ohio, including the trumpeter swan, peregrine falcon, osprey, river otter and snowshoe hare, none of which are hunted.

Do we strive to create hunting opportunities for our constituents? Yes. Hunters, fishermen and trappers comprise the largest body of our paying customers. Through their license fees, as well as through donations of their own money and time, they have, for generations, helped create and enhance Ohio’s wildlife habitat for a wide variety of species.

Ohio’s deer management goal, developed with broad input from many interest groups, states: “The Division of Wildlife will manage the state’s whitetail deer population to provide maximum recreational opportunities, while minimizing conflicts with agriculture, motor vehicle travel and other areas of human interest.”

The division must constantly adjust seasons and bag limits to keep the population at a level between those who want to see more deer and those who prefer to see less deer. In areas where hunting is prohibited, the landowner or local municipality must take an active role in deciding alternative population management decisions with division of wildlife assistance, or suffer the consequences of unlimited deer population growth.

While it is not the only tool, hunting is a very effective wildlife management tool and it poses virtually no threat to the nonhunting public. In fact, hunting remains one of the safest of recreational pastimes. For 2000, Ohio hunters recorded a near perfect safety record of better than 99.9 percent.

Ohio hunters learn their safety skills through a mandatory education program administered by the division of wildlife. Through these classes, hunters also learn ethics so there is no “slaughter” of wildlife, but the sensible harvesting of food for the table, done as humanely as possible. Our law enforcement unit pursues and prosecutes those who violate our rules and regulations.

The division’s mission statement says it all: “We are dedicated to conserving and improving the fish and wildlife resources and their habitats, and promoting their use and appreciation by the people so that these resources continue to enhance the quality of life for all Ohioans.”

We invite Mr. Carson and anyone else to visit our offices, talk with our biologists, meet a group of dedicated people and learn more about our policies and procedures.

To receive a free copy of our quarterly magazine, Wild Ohio, send a postcard with your name and address to: Division of Wildlife, 1840 Belcher Dr., Columbus, OH 43224, and ask to be put on the mailing list.

Jeff Herrick

Akron, Ohio

(The author is manager of the Ohio Department of Natural Resources’ Division of Wildlife District Three.)

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