Daily Court Reporter - News New law to boost hunting, fishing
New law to boost hunting, fishing
KEITH ARNOLD, Daily Reporter Staff Writer
Of the bills rushed to Gov. John Kasich for his signature before summer break, Ohio lawmakers approved a Senate measure that supports modernization efforts by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.
Signed into law was Senate Bill 257, a bipartisan bill that will better accommodate the needs of hunters and anglers in the Buckeye State.
"It will increase the number of sportsmen and sportswomen hunting and fishing in Ohio each year and will also increase the revenue available to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, which will help fund conservation activities across the state," said Sen. Sean O'Brien, D-Bazetta, a joint sponsor of the bill.
The measure will allow the chief of the Ohio Department of Natural Resources' Division of Wildlife to issue multiyear, lifetime or combination fishing and hunting licenses at discounted prices and lets mobility-impaired Ohioans hunt from all-purpose vehicles on private and public land. The bill would also allow the chief to exempt certain people - including veterans and people with disabilities - from being required to have a fishing license.
"During this administration, the ODNR Division of Wildlife has tackled a wide variety of issues and worked to improve our overall operations to ensure that Ohio's sportsmen and women's dollars are being spent wisely," said Jim Zehringer, director of the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, during a House of Representatives committee hearing.
Similar to a House companion bill, House Bill 518, the bill would create the Lake Erie Sport Fishing District and a permit, issued by the wildlife division to nonresidents who wish to fish in Lake Erie and its embayments, which include Maumee Bay, Sandusky Bay, East Harbor, Middle Harbor, West Harbor and the entire length of all tributaries or to the first dam or designated landmark of the Vermilion, Black, Rocky, Cuyahoga, Chagrin, Grand and Ashtabula rivers and Euclid, Arcola, Wheeler, Cowles, Indian and Conneaut creeks.
"Currently, we are one of very few states that allows harvesting walleye during the spawning season," Zehringer said. "With Lake Erie being right in our backyard, and Ohio having a robust walleye population, we can accommodate a fishing season during this time.
"Many non-residents come to Lake Erie and Ohio to fish for walleye during spawning season because their own states close fishing in their inland lakes, such as Michigan and Wisconsin. Ohio experiences a great economic boost during these months."
The director said one of the remaining provisions of the new law is forward-looking. The provision is allowing nonresident youths to hunt at a resident youth price.
"Youth are the future of hunting and fishing, and we should be doing everything we can to encourage youth to hunt, fish and get outdoors," he said. "Unfortunately, in Ohio alone, youth hunting license sales decreased approximately 10 percent from February 2017 to February 2018.
"A number of reasons can cause this previously mentioned decrease, but raising costs for out-of-state youths doesn't help. When costs are too high, parents are often deterred from bringing their children to participate, and the state ends up losing out on added revenue as well as tourism dollars."
Other provisions of SB 257 include:
A requirement for license applicants to pay the issuing agent a fee equal to $1 or 4 percent of the cost of the license or permit, whichever is greater, instead of the flat $1 fee in current law;
Creation of a resident apprentice senior hunting license and an apprentice senior fur taker permit.
Elimination of a prohibition of an individual's purchase of more than three apprentice hunting licenses of any type or more than three apprentice fur taker permits of any type;
A new expiration date of March 1 for each annual hunting license, deer or wild turkey permit, and fur taker permit when issued prior to that date; and
Specification that each annual fishing license begins on the date of issuance and expires a year from that date.
The new law becomes effective at the end of September.
Date Published: July 30, 2018