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Field Reports from Ohio Division of Wildlife Officers


Central Ohio – Wildlife District One 

This spring, State Wildlife Officer John Coffman, assigned to Fayette County, assisted at Deer Creek Wildlife Area with controlled burns on state-owned lands. Spring burns are a great way to manage warm season grass fields that are key habitat for a variety of wildlife species. Burning removes old grasses allows new shoots of grasses, forbs, and other beneficial plants to emerge. 

State Wildlife Officers Austin Levering and Brian Motsinger, assigned to Knox and Union counties, respectively, contacted white-tailed deer hunters in Licking County during the 2021-22 hunting season after receiving information that several deer were not checked properly. The officers discovered multiple hunters had harvested deer without a valid deer permit. It wasn’t until after the deer were harvested that each hunter purchased a deer permit and then used it to game check the deer. Three deer were seized as evidence and charges are pending. 

Northwest Ohio – Wildlife District Two 

State Wildlife Officer Nathan Robinson, assigned to Van Wert County, recently attended a trout derby at Willshire Quarry in Van Wert County. The Ohio Division of Wildlife and the Village of Willshire worked together on an agreement to allow fishing at the quarry. Officer Robinson worked with Ohio Division of Wildlife fish management staff to organize the trout release. The community came together to make the event a success by cleaning up the shore for better access opportunities, donating prizes, and providing food for participants. Willshire’s mayor said it was the most people he had ever seen using the quarry and he was excited to see what the coming years would bring. 

In April, State Wildlife Officer Matt D. Smith, assigned to Huron County, and State Wildlife Officer Charles McMullen, assigned to Sandusky County, received a call from the Turn-in-a-Poacher hotline regarding a possible fishing violation. The officers learned that two individuals, one with an active warrant and the other under a fishing license revocation, were fishing along the Sandusky River. The officers located the individuals and identified themselves as wildlife officers. One of the individuals tried to run away but was apprehended by Officer Smith. The first individual was charged with fishing without a license, along with his active warrant, and the second individual was charged with fishing under revocation and deterring a wildlife officer. Both individuals were placed under arrest and transported to jail by the Sandusky County Sheriff’s Office. Call 1-800-POACHER (1-800-762-2437) to report wildlife crimes. 

Northeast Ohio – Wildlife District Three 

During the 2021-22 white-tailed deer archery hunting season, State Wildlife Officer Craig Porter, assigned to Jefferson County, received information about a deer shot with a rifle. Officer Porter, accompanied by wildlife officers and sheriff deputies from Harrison and Jefferson counties, executed a search warrant on the individual’s residence. Untagged deer parts and a rifle were seized. In court, the individual was found guilty and was ordered to forfeit the deer and rifle, serve a one-year probation, and serve seven days in jail with seven days suspended. His hunting license was suspended for one year. 

State Wildlife Officer Craig Porter, assigned to Jefferson County, recently participated in an annual Cops and Bobbers youth fishing event. For the event, several local law enforcement agencies worked cooperatively to showcase positive relationships between law enforcement members and the community. Officer Porter helped coordinate the event location as well as facilitate use of the Ohio Division of Wildlife’s archery trailer, which was thoroughly enjoyed by students attending the event. 

Southeast Ohio – Wildlife District Four 

In May 2022, State Wildlife Officers Bob Nelson, assigned to Ross County, and Ted Witham, assigned to Jackson County, attended a Boy Scout event at the Ross County Fairgrounds. The officers spoke with several hundred Boy Scouts about the Ohio Division of Wildlife. The officers taught scouts who were working on wildlife merit badges about various wildlife tracks. Some of the older scouts expressed interest in one day becoming a wildlife officer. 

During the winter, State Wildlife Officer Jade Heizer, assigned to Washington County, received a call about a white-tailed deer that was stuck on the ice of the Muskingum River. The doe was unable to climb up the steep, snow-covered bank. Using her issued 100-foot throw bag, Officer Heizer secured one end of the rope to a tree, lowered herself down the bank, and secured the deer with the other end. Once back on flat ground, Officer Heizer pulled the doe to safety. 

Southwest Ohio – Wildlife District Five 

On the opening day of the spring wild turkey hunting season, State Wildlife Officer Gus Kiebel, assigned to Adams County, received a report of trespassing. The caller had discovered two turkey hunters trespassing on his property. The individuals then ran onto adjoining private property. State Wildlife Officer Jason Keller, assigned to Warren County, and K-9 Scout responded to the complaint. K-9 Scout tracked the suspects back to a hunting cabin. Both individuals admitted to hunting without permission on the two properties. They each paid $300 in fines and court costs in Adams County. 

State Wildlife Officer Matt Bourne, assigned to Clark County, recently spoke to approximately 25 second-grade students at Northeastern Local School District’s Rolling Hills Elementary. The teacher invited Officer Bourne to share the duties of a wildlife officer and the variety wildlife in Ohio with the class. Officer Bourne also showed students a collection of pelts from Ohio’s furbearers.