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Field reports from Ohio Division of Wildlife officers


Central Ohio – Wildlife District One 

During the winter, State Wildlife Officer Matt Teders, assigned to Madison County, observed flashlights shining along an access lane while he was on night patrol at Deer Creek Wildlife Area. Officer Teders approached the area and found two individuals whose car was stuck in the snow. Officer Teders requested the assistance of Natural Resources Officer Jordan Beechler, assigned to Deer Creek State Park, to help push the vehicle out of the snow. While the officers were assisting the driver, they observed the passenger hiding drug paraphernalia. The individuals were educated about curfew laws on wildlife areas while not in the act of hunting, fishing, or trapping. The passenger was cited for possession of drug paraphernalia, and the officers were able to free the vehicle from the snow. 

State Wildlife Officer Brian Motsinger, assigned to Union County, received a call from a local landscaper who found an injured owl at a client’s house. Officer Motsinger arrived at the concerned landowner’s house and confirmed it was an injured great-horned owl. After the owl was safely captured, the neighbor asked if her children could see it. Officer Motsinger and the children quietly viewed the owl from an appropriate distance. The children had never seen an owl up close and were thankful for the opportunity. The owl was transported to Crows Hollow Wildlife Care, where professional wildlife rehabbers determined it could likely be released in the wild after it recovered. Officer Motsinger was grateful for the opportunity to help Ohio’s wildlife and provide an unforgettable experience to a family. 

Northwest Ohio – Wildlife District Two 

In September 2021, State Wildlife Officer Matthew D. Smith, assigned to Huron County, attended the first annual Willard Fishing Derby at Willard Reservoir. Officer Smith partnered with Willard City Council to promote the event. He also provided loaner fishing poles for those who did not have their own equipment. Around 75 children and adults fished in the derby. Each child was given a free fishing rod and reel for their participation. Officer Smith is helping to organize the 2022 event with an added archery activity. 

State Wildlife Investigator Jeremy Payne, assigned to northwest Ohio, assisted with multiple pollution events in 2021, many of which were reported by a concerned citizen. These reports allow officers to quickly arrive on the scene and work to determine the cause of the pollution. Ohioans are encouraged to call 1-800-WILDLIFE (1-800-945-3543) to report any dead or dying fish in their local streams. 

Northeast Ohio – Wildlife District Three 

In February, State Wildlife Officer Zach Hillman, assigned to Cuyahoga County, received a call from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission about an individual who had illegally taken a state-threatened gopher tortoise from the wild in Florida and brought it back to Ohio. Officer Hillman contacted the individual, seized the tortoise, and educated the person about the various violations committed. Unfortunately, the tortoise was unable to be returned to the wild in Florida. It was taken to a licensed reptile and amphibian facility where it will serve as an education ambassador. 

In November 2021, State Wildlife Officer Tom Frank, assigned to Mahoning County, was investigating white-tailed deer harvest reports. Officer Frank identified suspicious activity which indicated an individual had checked in more than one antlered deer. One of the deer was harvested on private property without written permission. The suspect was issued one summons for harvesting more than one antlered deer, and another for trespassing. A total of $190 in fines and court costs as well as more than $1,900 in restitution were paid by the suspect. 

Southeast Ohio – Wildlife District Four 

State Wildlife Officer Darin Abbott, assigned to Lawrence County, and State Wildlife Officer Cole Tilton, assigned to Scioto County, contacted an Ironton man about possible white-tailed deer hunting violations in February 2021. The officers discovered numerous violations during the investigation, which concluded with the seizure of 10 deer racks and six charges filed in Ironton Municipal Court. The defendant was convicted of five counts and ordered to pay $1,500 in restitution and $255 in fines, court costs, and probationary fees. He lost his hunting privileges for two years in Ohio and 47 other states through the Interstate Wildlife Violator Compact.  

During the 2022 white-tailed deer muzzleloader hunting season, State Wildlife Officer Jerrod Allison, assigned to Coshocton County, received calls from three different landowners who had people hunting on their properties without permission. Officer Allison found two vehicles in the area and he contacted six hunters. Two of the individuals were not wearing the required hunter orange. All six hunters were found to be hunting without permission on private property. Two of the individuals had killed deer on the property the day before. All six individuals were issued tickets for hunting without permission, two were issued tickets for not wearing hunter orange, and the two deer harvested from the property were seized. The hunters paid fines and court costs in Coshocton Municipal Court, and the deer were donated to the local food pantry. 

Southwest Ohio – Wildlife District Five 

State Wildlife Officers Matt Roberts and Gus Kiebel, assigned to Highland and Adams counties, respectively, were on patrol when they received a call that a landowner caught a bobcat in a live trap. The officers arrived at the Adams County residence and were led to the location where the bobcat had been trapped. The officers relocated the bobcat, unharmed, back into the wild. 

Wildlife District Five recently hosted a yearly service-learning project at the district headquarters in Xenia for the St. Brigid School. The project was led by Wildlife Unit Supervisor Matt Hunt. The kindergarten class spent the day learning about conservation under the mentorship of eighth-grade students. State Wildlife Officer Jason Keller, assigned to Warren County, and State Wildlife Officer Matt Bourne, assigned to Clark County, taught the basics of fishing and archery with fish management staff. The students concluded the day by learning about soil science and planted several flower beds with plants essential for pollinators. This marks the eighth year for the service-learning day, with this year’s eighth grade mentors being the first kindergarten class to take part in the project.