Squirrel season to open Sept. 1
Ohio’s squirrel season will open on Sept. 1 and provide hunters with an opportunity to take as many as six squirrels each day, according to the ODNR Division of Wildlife.
Ohio’s squirrel season, a long-time tradition for many hunters, offers ample hunting opportunities for fox and gray squirrels across the state. This is an excellent time to take a youth hunting or scout for the upcoming deer and fall wild turkey hunting seasons. Legal hunting hours are one-half hour before sunrise to sunset daily.
Squirrel season will be closed during the one-week statewide deer gun season, Nov. 26-Dec. 2.
The abundance of nut crops is a good indicator of squirrel numbers the following year. Statewide nut production ratings for fall 2011 were lower in comparison to those from 2010. However, the predicted squirrel hunting outlook for the 2012–13 season is again above average.
Although oak production was average, substantial increases in walnut production occurred throughout the state during fall 2011. Increased food supply in concert with an exceptionally mild winter should lead to high squirrel densities and increased hunting opportunities this fall.
Primary fox squirrel range occurs predominately in the agricultural landscapes in the northeastern and western regions of Ohio, whereas the primary gray squirrel range is in the extensively forested east-central, southeastern and south-central regions.
Gray squirrels are more dependent on hard mast, and their abundance is closely tied to the mast crop the previous fall. Fox squirrels are less dependent upon mast crop resources and likely use supplemental food in agricultural areas.
• More than 270 permits are offered to hunters wishing to construct a blind to hunt ducks and geese on select Ohio State Park lakes this waterfowl hunting season. A lottery drawing for the permits will be held at 16 state parks and two wildlife areas the morning of Saturday, Aug. 18.
Interested applicants must appear in person at a participating state park office with proof of a 2012 Ohio hunting license, state wetlands stamp endorsement in the applicant’s name and a signed 2012 or 2011 federal duck stamp. Applicants under the age of 18 must have a parent or legal guardian present sign the permit contract, and they must provide the required license and stamps.
Participating state parks include Portage Lakes and West Branch in northeast Ohio; East Harbor, Indian Lake and Lake Loramie in northwest Ohio; Buck Creek, Caesar Creek, Cowan Lake, East Fork, Hueston Woods and Rocky Fork in southwest Ohio; and Alum Creek, A.W. Marion, Buckeye Lake, Deer Creek and Delaware in central Ohio.
Applications will be accepted beginning at 7:30 a.m. at most parks, with the lottery drawings at 8 a.m. at the park office, unless otherwise noted in the listing below.
Each hunter can apply for only one duck blind permit, and no one may apply or draw for another person. There is a $50 non-refundable permit fee for the state park lottery winners. Most locations accept cash, checks or credit cards for payment, except for Portage Lakes where payment is by cash (exact change) or check only. Lottery winners have 45 days to construct their blinds, and all blinds must be dismantled by March 15, 2013.
Hunters wishing to participate in the lotteries at Delaware or Indian Lake state parks are advised that the nearby Delaware marina, and the Indian Lake park office and commissary no longer sell hunting licenses and duck stamps. Hunters should purchase their license and stamp from another vendor prior to the lotteries.
Waterfowl hunting opportunities are also offered through lottery drawings for blinds at the Mercer Wildlife Area on Grand Lake St. Marys and the Mosquito Creek Wildlife Area adjacent to Mosquito Lake State Park. The drawings will be held at the respective wildlife area offices on Aug. 18.
There is no fee for use of the blinds at these areas. Lottery participants must also have a current Harvest Information Program certification. Information on waterfowl hunting seasons, locations and restrictions will be discussed by park staff and wildlife officers during the lotteries.
• After a week of intensive electrofishing and gill netting activities in Sandusky Bay, Maumee Bay and their main tributaries, officials have found no bighead or silver Asian carps in western Lake Erie.
The Ohio Department of Natural Resources, Michigan Department of Natural Resources, and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service continue to work together to assess the current status of bighead and silver carp within western Lake Erie bays and select tributaries.
Fish sampling activities took place in response to the six water samples taken from Sandusky and north Maumee bays in August 2011 that tested positive for the presence of Asian carp eDNA. Additional eDNA sampling activities occurred July 30-Aug. 4, and those findings will be announced in a few weeks.
• Wildlife biologists report 145 osprey chicks were produced from 110 nests throughout the state this year. With the number of breeding pairs steadily increasing over the past 15 years, the ODNR Division of Wildlife has removed the osprey from the state’s threatened species list.
The Division of Wildlife uses six categories to list species: endangered, threatened, species of concern, special interest, extirpated and extinct to further define the status of selected wildlife. Ospreys no longer meet the criteria for any of these categories.
The osprey’s breeding range has grown to include nests in 30 Ohio counties, producing an average of 1.8 chicks per nest. Ohio’s osprey reintroduction program was originally started in 1996, and the goal of the program was to have 20 nesting pairs of ospreys by 2010. That goal was achieved in 2003, seven years ahead of schedule. Last year, 92 breeding pairs were reported.
No state tax dollars are used for this program. Efforts to monitor Ohio’s osprey have been supported by the Wildlife Diversity and Endangered Species Fund, which receives donations from Ohioans through the state income tax check-off program and by the purchase of cardinal license plates. Individuals who are interested may donate online at wildohio.com.
The new Ohio Wildlife Legacy Stamp provides an additional funding opportunity to support conservation, especially among wildlife watchers, photographers, campers, hikers and others who support wildlife causes. The $15 collectible Ohio Wildlife Legacy Stamp is available annually and highlights a different wildlife species each year chosen through a photo competition.
Until next time, Good Hunting and Good Fishing!