COLUMBUS — The Ohio Wildlife Council received proposed changes to several species designations, including bobcats, as well as potential dates for the upcoming fall hunting seasons Jan. 8.
The Ohio Department of Natural Resources Division of Wildlife biologists submitted a proposal to remove the bobcat from Ohio’s threatened species list. The bobcat was one of 71 species on Ohio’s first endangered list in 1974.
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However, the bobcat population began to rebound in the 1970s, and in recent years the number of verified sightings has continued to increase, prompting the status change from endangered to threatened in 2012.
Bobcats are still considered a protected species in Ohio with no hunting or trapping season.
Three other species were proposed to be changed on Ohio’s state-designated species. A fourth was added as a species of concern, and this designation does not require council action.
Now endangered, snowshoe hares were proposed to be changed to a species of concern. Translocated hares have not been detected in Ohio since 2010 as the population has declined.
Presently listed as endangered, the Bewick’s wren is proposed to move to extirpated. A Bewick’s wren nest was last confirmed in Ohio in 1995.
Currently a species of concern, the smooth greensnake is proposed to move to the endangered list. This rare snake has lost much of its habitat and range in Ohio.
Eastern hog-nosed snake. The Eastern hog-nosed snake will now be listed as a species of concern.
Hunting season date proposals are prepared by the ODNR Division of Wildlife biologists and maintain many traditional opening day dates.
New this year, it is proposed that youth hunters can harvest up to two wild turkeys during the 2015 two-day youth season (one per day). Checking two wild turkeys would fill the youth hunter’s bag limit for the remaining 2015 spring wild turkey season.
This proposed change would not take effect until 2015. The bag limit remains one wild turkey for the two-day 2014 youth wild turkey hunting season.
Proposed open counties for quail hunting remain the same as last season: Adams, Athens, Brown, Butler, Clermont, Clinton, Highland, Jackson, Meigs, Montgomery, Pike, Preble, Ross, Scioto, Vinton and Warren.
Youth small game seasons are proposed statewide for two weekends: Oct. 25-26 and Oct. 31-Nov. 1.
Proposals concerning Ohio’s white-tailed deer hunting season will be heard at the next Ohio Wildlife Council meeting Feb. 5.
The Ohio Wildlife Council is an eight-member board that approves all of the ODNR Division of Wildlife proposed rules and regulations. The council will vote on the proposed rules and season dates during its April 9 meeting after considering public input.
Open houses to receive public comments about hunting, trapping and fishing regulations and wildlife issues will be held on March 1. Open houses will be held at the ODNR Division of Wildlife District One, District Two, District Three and District Four offices, the Greene County Fish and Game Association clubhouse in Xenia, the Lake Erie Fairport office and the Old Woman Creek Reserve office in Huron.
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 wildohio.com.
The online form will be available until March. Directions to the open houses can be found at wildohio.com or by calling 800-WILDLIFE (945-3543).
A statewide hearing on all of the proposed rules will be held at the ODNR Division of Wildlife’s District One office March 6, at 9 a.m. The office is located at 1500 Dublin Road, Columbus.
Council meetings are open to the public. Individuals who want to provide comments on a topic that is currently being considered by council are asked to preregister at least two days prior to the meeting by calling 614-265-6304.
All comments are required to be three minutes or less.