Tag Archives: ODNR Division of Wildlife

Free Fishing Weekend in Ohio

Presented By Classic Brands

(Columbus) – Ohio’s annual free fishing weekend provides all Ohio residents the chance to experience any one of hundreds of public fishing locations on Saturday and Sunday, June 18-19, according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) Division of Wildlife.

Photo caption: All Ohio residents can fish in public waters for free on June 18-19 during the free fishing weekend.
This will be the only weekend of the year in which Ohio residents 16 and older can fish public waters without purchasing a fishing license. During that weekend, Ohio residents can fish for free in any of Ohio’s public waters, including those of Lake Erie and the Ohio River. All other fishing regulations, size limits, and bag limits apply.
The Division of Wildlife hosts one free fishing weekend each year that aims to expand access to and participation in this cherished outdoor activity. The free fishing weekend is an excellent chance to get outside and experience the thrill of fishing at no cost. Anglers are encouraged to introduce someone new to fishing, especially youth, and make lasting memories on the water. An estimated 1.3 million Ohioans fish in the Buckeye State every year.
The free fishing weekend offers a unique chance for beginners and children to catch a fish. Here are some tips for those who might try fishing for the first time:

  • Keep the trip simple by considering the person’s age and skill level.
  • Choose a pond, lake, or stream where beginners can easily catch a few fish.
  • Use live bait to increase the chance of catching a fish. Live bait is also more interesting for children.
  • Bring a camera and snacks.
  • Be patient – plan on spending time untangling lines, baiting hooks, landing fish, and taking pictures.
  • Most of all, keep the trip fun.

Ohio’s lakes, reservoirs, rivers, and streams offer extraordinary fishing opportunities. The Division of Wildlife manages the fisheries of 124,000 acres of inland water, 7,000 miles of streams, 2¼ million acres of Lake Erie, and Ohio’s portion of 481 miles of the Ohio River.
The Division of Wildlife works to improve spawning habitat, construct fish attractors and structures, implement fishing regulations, and stock upwards of 43 million sport fish annually. More than 200 locations statewide are stocked with species such as walleye, saugeye, yellow perch, rainbow trout, brown trout, muskellunge, channel catfish, blue catfish, and hybrid-striped bass.
There are many resources to make your fishing trip fun and unforgettable. Use the HuntFishOH mobile application or visit the Go and Do fishing page at ohiodnr.gov to explore public fishing destinations near you. If you are new to fishing and need help getting started, the Division of Wildlife has the resources to set you up for success. The Wild Ohio Harvest Community has online modules, events, learning opportunities, and recipes to get you started. Find information on special locations like Lake Erie and the Ohio River, fishing tips and tricks, and suggestions for targeting specific species on the Fishing License and Resources page at wildohio.gov.
If you are fishing outside of the free fishing weekend June 18-19, 2022, all anglers 16 and older are required to have a valid fishing license to take fish, frogs, and turtles. Licenses can be purchased at participating agents, at wildohio.gov, or on the HuntFishOH mobile application. Remember to check the 2022-2023 Fishing Regulations before you go.

ODNR Division of Wildlife Releases Wild Turkey Harvest Count

Presented By Ross-Chillicothe Convention & Visitor’s Bureau

(Columbus) – Ohio’s wild turkey hunters have harvested 11,770 birds through Sunday, May 22, 2022, according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) Division of Wildlife. The total statewide harvest represents 23 days of hunting in the five northeastern counties (Ashtabula, Cuyahoga, Geauga, Lake, and Trumbull), 30 days in the remaining counties, and includes the 1,103 wild turkeys taken during the youth season April 9-10.
The three-year average (2019, 2020, and 2021) using the same dates is 17,060 wild turkeys. During the 2021 season, the number checked was 14,450.
The spring wild turkey hunting season concluded in most Ohio counties on May 22. Hunting in the northeast zone remains open until Sunday, May 29. Hunting is open from 30 minutes before sunrise until sunset in those five counties. The season bag limit is one bearded turkey. Further details can be found in the 2021-22 hunting and trapping regulations booklet.
The top 11 counties for wild turkey harvest during the 2022 season so far: Tuscarawas (338), Ashtabula (318), Belmont (314), Guernsey (312), Columbiana (309), Harrison (298), Muskingum (294), Jefferson (292), Gallia (280), Adams (278), and Brown (278).
Declining wild turkey harvests, likely a result of lower wild turkey numbers and decreased hunter participation, have been a long-term trend since 2001, when Ohio’s harvest peaked. Several factors play a role in fluctuating turkey populations, including weather events, predation, disease, and hatch productivity. The Division of Wildlife is taking conservation measures to reduce the wild turkey harvest while ongoing research looks closely at Ohio’s population.
Each summer, the Division of Wildlife conducts a turkey brood survey to estimate population changes. Poor hatches from 2017-2019 have caused a temporary depression in turkey numbers. The Division of Wildlife remains vigilant in monitoring Ohio’s wild turkeys. Biologists expect the population dip to be temporary given the 2021 brood survey showed encouraging results. Young turkeys will be tracked closely in the coming years. The brood survey is largely based on public reports. Submit observations of young turkeys during July and August at wildohio.gov.

Editor’s Note: A list of all wild turkeys checked by hunters in each county through Sunday, May 22, 2022, is shown below. Results from the state include 30 days of hunting in the south zone, 23 days in the northeast zone, and the two-day statewide youth season. The first number following the county’s name shows the harvest numbers for 2022, and the three-year average through the corresponding dates are in parentheses. Harvest numbers below are raw data and are subject to change.
Adams: 278 (399); Allen: 56 (72); Ashland: 134 (178); Ashtabula 318 (424); Athens: 231 (389); Auglaize: 24 (42); Belmont: 314 (514); Brown: 278 (396); Butler: 144 (200); Carroll: 266 (347); Champaign: 72 (86); Clark: 21 (15); Clermont: 204 (317); Clinton: 56 (72); Columbiana: 309 (392); Coshocton: 271 (443); Crawford: 45 (58); Cuyahoga 5 (7); Darke: 57 (59); Defiance: 152 (200); Delaware: 74 (109); Erie: 24 (46); Fairfield: 83 (105); Fayette: 3 (12); Franklin: 10 (20); Fulton: 91 (112); Gallia: 280 (386); Geauga 132 (194); Greene: 22 (22); Guernsey: 312 (470) Hamilton: 78 (113); Hancock: 31 (37); Hardin: 80 (94); Harrison: 298 (428); Henry: 35 (55); Highland: 253 (372); Hocking: 170 (256); Holmes: 175 (230); Huron: 68 (106); Jackson: 176 (345); Jefferson: 292 (412); Knox: 198 (312); Lake 38 (61); Lawrence: 159 (215); Licking: 208 (320); Logan: 121 (106); Lorain: 87 (130); Lucas: 53 (58); Madison: 4 (9); Mahoning: 141 (188); Marion: 30 (35); Medina: 96 (120); Meigs: 267 (498); Mercer: 21 (19); Miami: 27 (24); Monroe: 277 (529); Montgomery: 19 (26); Morgan: 194 (329); Morrow: 116 (132); Muskingum: 294 (486); Noble: 251 (410); Ottawa: 0 (2); Paulding: 58 (71); Perry: 202 (280); Pickaway: 7 (23); Pike: 148 (208); Portage: 164 (230); Preble: 113 (114); Putnam: 29 (55); Richland: 173 (249); Ross: 223 (297); Sandusky: 19 (22); Scioto: 143 (261); Seneca: 98 (128); Shelby: 35 (40); Stark: 225 (269); Summit: 61 (74); Trumbull 258 (335); Tuscarawas: 338 (505); Union: 52 (47); Van Wert: 18 (17); Vinton: 170 (285); Warren: 65 (93); Washington: 276 (491); Wayne: 99 (116); Williams: 175 (200); Wood: 21 (25); Wyandot: 77 (83).
2022 total: 11,770
Three-year average: (17,060)


Ohio Sandhill Crane Count Completed

Presented By Chillicothe VAMC

(ODNR) – Observers found 371 sandhill cranes in Ohio as part of the one-day April 2022 Midwest Crane Count, according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) Division of Wildlife. The count was coordinated by the Division of Wildlife, International Crane Foundation, and Ohio Bird Conservation Initiative.
The survey was conducted in 24 preselected counties during the crane’s nesting season. Counties were selected based on the availability of wetland habitat that cranes use for nesting. The top seven counties with the most sightings were Wayne (84), Lucas (60), Geauga (56), Trumbull (47), Holmes (18), Ottawa (17), and Wyandot (17). Volunteers searched crane habitat within a 10-square mile survey block. Pickaway County only had one sighting of the sandhill crane, while Franklin County had three spotted.

Results were reported via eBird.

The count was the second of what will be an annual event to track the status of sandhill cranes in the Buckeye State. The count in 2021 found 160 sandhill cranes across five counties. Sandhills can be secretive during the breeding season, and the survey is an effort to better understand Ohio’s breeding population.
sandhill crane is a tall wading bird characterized by a long neck and bill. It is mostly gray in plumage with a red patch on its forehead. It is often recognized by its rolling bugle call. Sandhills are migratory, breeding in wetlands across the northern U.S. and Canada, and wintering farther south in North America.
These regal birds were once extirpated from Ohio. They returned to Wayne County in 1987 to breed and have been slowly expanding since. They are still listed as a threatened species in Ohio.
Volunteers interested in helping with the 2023 Midwest Crane Count can mark their calendars for Saturday, April 15, 2023. Volunteers should be familiar with crane identification by sight and sound. More information is available from the Ohio Bird Conservation Initiative or the International Crane Foundation.

Wildlife enthusiasts can support sandhill cranes by purchasing an Ohio Wildlife Legacy Stamp. Fourteen dollars of every $15 Ohio Wildlife Legacy Stamp sold are invested in the state’s Wildlife Diversity Fund. This fund supports habitat restoration, wildlife and habitat research projects, creation of free wildlife educational materials, as well as efforts to restore and conserve endangered and threatened species. The Ohio Legacy Stamp can be purchased online through Ohio’s Wildlife Licensing System and at any location that sells hunting and fishing licenses. Learn more about sandhill cranes and the Division of Wildlife’s research at wildohio.gov.

A list of sandhill cranes found in each of the 24 counties surveyed during Ohio’s 2022 sandhill crane count is shown below. The numbers below are preliminary and subject to change.
Ashland 11; Columbiana 1; Delaware 1; Erie 1; Franklin 3; Geauga 56; Hardin 6; Holmes 18; Knox 2; Licking 2; Logan 11; Lucas 60; Mahoning 1; Marion 11; Ottawa 17; Pickaway 1; Portage 3; Richland 2; Summit 2; Trumbull 47; Tuscarawas 2; Wayne 84; Williams 12; and Wyandot 17.
2022 total: 371

Ohio Hunting Season Dates Approved

Presented By Classic Brands

(ODNR)  The Ohio Wildlife Council approved an amended proposal for the upcoming 2022 fall wild turkey hunting season dates during its regularly scheduled meeting on Wednesday, April 13, according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) Division of Wildlife. The council also approved an amended white-tailed deer archery season opener in a three-county disease surveillance area in north-central Ohio.
This year’s fall wild turkey hunting will run from Saturday, Oct. 8 until Sunday, Nov. 13 for a 37-day season. Last year’s season was 52 days. The season limit is one wild turkey of either sex. These season dates were amended based on comments from fall turkey hunters. A 37-day season matches the length of Ohio’s spring turkey hunting season when the south and northeast zones are combined. Fall turkey hunting is open in 70 of Ohio’s 88 counties.
Deer hunting seasons
White-tailed deer are Ohio’s most popular game animal. The 2022-23 deer hunting dates are similar to last season. As in years past, only one antlered deer may be harvested, regardless of where or how it is taken, and a hunter cannot exceed a county bag limit. The deer hunting season dates for 2022-23 include:

  • Deer archery: Sept. 24, 2022-Feb. 5, 2023.
  • Youth deer gun: Nov. 19-20, 2022.
  • Deer gun: Nov. 28-Dec. 4, 2022; Dec. 17-18, 2022.
  • Deer muzzleloader: Jan. 7-10, 2023.
  • Hunting hours are 30 minutes before sunrise to 30 minutes after sunset.

Bag limits will increase in 18 counties. Three counties will increase to two deer (from one deer): Clinton, Fayette, and Pickaway. Fifteen counties will increase to three deer (from two deer): Allen, Auglaize, Champaign, Clark, Darke, Mercer, Miami, Morrow, Muskingum, Perry, Preble, Putnam, Shelby, Van Wert, and Washington. Deer bag limit increases are designed to slow herd growth and provide additional hunting opportunities.

Disease surveillance area deer hunting seasons
A disease surveillance area was established following the 2020 discovery of Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) in two deer in Wyandot County. Further testing revealed eight more CWD-positive deer in 2021. The Division of Wildlife has implemented additional measures to increase the deer harvest, decrease the possibility of disease transmission, and limit the spread of CWD in Hardin, Marion, and Wyandot counties. CWD is a fatal neurological disease that affects white-tailed deer and other similar species.

Deer archery hunting in the CWD surveillance area comprised of Hardin, Marion, and Wyandot counties will begin on Saturday, Sept. 10. The original proposed start date of Sept. 1 was amended following feedback from hunters and landowners.

Deer seasons in the disease surveillance area:

  • Deer archery: Sept. 10, 2022-Feb. 5, 2023.
  • Early deer gun: Oct. 8-10, 2022.
  • Youth deer gun: Nov. 19-20, 2022.
  • Deer gun: Nov. 28-Dec. 4, 2022; Dec. 17-18, 2022.
  • Deer muzzleloader: Jan. 7-10, 2023.
  • Hunting hours are 30 minutes before sunrise to 30 minutes after sunset.

Further, public land deer hunting restrictions are removed at Big Island, Andreoff, and Wyandot wildlife areas. Public land restrictions were previously removed at Killdeer Plains and Lake La Su An wildlife areas.

Spring 2023 wild turkey hunting seasons
The spring 2023 turkey hunting dates:

  • Youth season: April 15-16, 2023, 30 minutes before sunrise to sunset.
  • South zone:
    • April 22-April 30, 2023, 30 minutes before sunrise to noon.
    • May 1-21, 2023, 30 minutes before sunrise to sunset.
  • Northeast zone:
    • April 29-May 7, 2023, 30 minutes before sunrise to noon.
    • May 8-28, 2023, 30 minutes before sunrise to sunset.

General hunting regulations
The definition of a crossbow was updated to include new limb configurations and stock lengths. This will allow newer crossbow designs that are shorter and have differing limb configurations. A shoulder-mount stock is still required for a crossbow.
Restrictions were removed for carrying a concealed firearm while hunting. A person may carry and hunt with a legally concealed firearm, so long as the firearm meets existing regulations.
Endangered and threatened species listings
Every five years, the Division of Wildlife reviews and updates the species listed as endangered, threatened, extirpated, species of concern, and special interest. This year, 58 different species listings were changed, added, or removed from the endangered and threatened species list. A complete list of species is available at wildohio.gov.
Three fish species, the alligator gar, blacknose shiner, and longhead darter were downgraded to endangered from extirpated. Many species of dragonflies, damselflies, and butterflies were updated following years of thorough citizen science reporting. Two crayfish species, the blue crayfish and the crawzilla crawdad, were added to the list after previously unknown populations of both species were discovered in Ohio.