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Field reports from Ohio Division of Wildlife Officers

Northwest Ohio – Wildlife District Two
During the 2023 white-tailed deer archery hunting season, State Wildlife Officer Ryan Burke, assigned to Hancock County, and State Wildlife Officer Brock Williamson, assigned to Seneca County, investigated a landowner harvest anomaly.

Officers Burke and Williamson discovered an individual had harvested an antlered deer early in the season, and the individual’s wife had game-checked a second buck on behalf of the suspect later in the season. The husband was issued a summons for taking two antlered deer during a hunting season and his wife was issued a summons for checking a deer she did not harvest. They both pleaded guilty in Upper Sandusky Municipal Court. The wife paid $275 in fines and court costs and her hunting license was revoked for one year. The husband paid $375 in fines and court costs, lost hunting privileges for two years, and paid an additional $3,939.08 in restitution. The buck was forfeited to the state and the meat was donated to a local food pantry.

In March, the 32nd Wildlife Officer Cadet Training Academy attended a waterfowl enforcement and identification training class at Pickerel Creek Wildlife Area. Each wildlife officer class since 2007 has been required to complete the training, which has now trained more than 90 officers. Officers learned to identify approximately 40 species of migratory waterfowl and game birds by wing and flight characteristics as well as dozens of nongame birds typically found in and around wetland habitats. Other training topics covered include plant identification, state and federal migratory bird hunting regulations, waterfowl hunting history, and the process for setting migratory bird seasons. Officers also participated in field scenarios to replicate situations encountered by wildlife officers on patrol. 

Southwest Ohio – Wildlife District Five
State Wildlife Officer Houston Wireman, assigned to Shelby County, State Wildlife Officer Mark Schemmel, assigned to Auglaize County, and State Wildlife Officer Brad Buening, assigned to Mercer County, assisted with cleanup efforts at Indian Lake State Park after the devastation from the March 14 tornado.

During the 2023-24 white-tailed deer hunting season, State Wildlife Officer Jeffery Wenning, assigned to Darke County, observed a vehicle whose driver was wearing hunter orange and pointing the barrel of a firearm out the side window. Officer Wenning contacted the individual and issued a citation for hunting from a motorized vehicle. The suspect paid $120 in court costs and $150 in fines.

Central Ohio – Wildlife District One
During the 2023-24 white-tailed deer hunting season, State Wildlife Officer Chad Grote, assigned to Marion County, received a report of a harvested deer hanging behind a house. Officer Grote checked to see if the deer had been properly game checked and found it had not. Officer Grote also discovered carcass parts on the property from two other deer which had not been properly tagged. The suspect was found guilty in Marion Municipal Court and paid $138 in fines and court costs. 

In February, State Wildlife Officer Austin Levering, assigned to Knox County, and Wildlife Officer Supervisor Matt Hoehn attended the National Wild Turkey Federation National Convention in Nashville, Tenn. Officers Levering and Hoehn met with conservation staff from agencies across the nation and attended law enforcement presentations. Officers Levering and Hoehn also staffed a Division of Wildlife display and spoke with hundreds of convention attendees.

Northeast Ohio – Wildlife District Three
State Wildlife Officers Mike Greer and Matt Madgar, assigned to Cuyahoga and Geauga counties, respectively, encountered a hunting party at Ladue Wildlife Area during the 2023 youth white-tailed deer gun season. The nonhunting adults accompanying a youth hunter failed to wear hunter orange clothing as required by law. The young hunter was compliant. The officers explained the importance of wearing orange during the deer gun seasons. The adults were charged for failure to wear a vest, coat, jacket or coveralls in solid or camouflage hunter orange.

State Wildlife Officer Scott Traver, assigned to Stark County, received a report of an illegal pet snapping turtle. Officer Traver retrieved the turtle and transferred it to Clover Field Wildlife Care, Inc. Unfortunately, the turtle could not be released back into the wild because it was kept in captivity for two years. The turtle now serves as a wildlife ambassador at Malone University, helping educate students about the importance of keeping wildlife wild.

Southeast Ohio – Wildlife District Four
In November 2023, State Wildlife Officer Benjamin Smith, assigned to Morgan County, spotted a hunter standing on top of an oil storage tank at Appalachian Hills Wildlife Area. Officer Smith contacted the hunter, who knew he was not permitted to be on the tank. Officer Smith explained that it is unsafe and unlawful to stand on top, or be in contact with, an oil tank or other oil and gas infrastructure on a wildlife area. The suspect was issued a summons for the violation and paid a fine of $150 in Morgan County Court.