Taking boat safety course an excellent idea

Whether you are required to or not, taking a safe boating course is an excellent idea.

There are numerous opportunities around the state next Saturday (March 23) to take a free course. Remember, a boater education course is required for anyone operating a boat over 10 horsepower who was born on or after Jan. 1, 1982.

None of the locations are within real close proximity to Lima, but may interest Limaland boaters. Among then are:

Maumee Bay State Park, 8 a.m.–5 p.m. Call 419-836-6003 or email maumeebay.watercraft@dnr.state.oh.us.

Alum Creek State Park, 8 a.m.–5 p.m. Call 740-548-5490.

East Harbor State Park, 8 a.m.–5 p.m. Call 419-621-1402 or email sandusky.watercraft@dnr.state.oh.us.

- Rocky Fork State Park, 8 a.m.–5 p.m. Call 513-734-2730 or email cincinnati.watercraft@dnr.state.oh.us.

Ohio’s boater requirement can be met by taking and passing one of these classroom boating education courses or by online or home study or by taking and passing a proficiency exam. For a summary of Ohio’s regulations and available courses, go to watercraft.ohiodnr.gov/coursesearch.

Ohio requires that completed courses meet the national boating education standards for powerboat rental or operation, as verified by National Association of State Boating Law Administrators (NASBLA).

A boating safety course provides critical information to prepare both new and veteran boaters for the potential risks faced while boating. According to the U.S. Coast Guard, statistics show that when the level of operator education was known, 81 percent of boating deaths occurred on boats where the boat operator had never received boating education instruction.

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This is a great time of year to carry binoculars and a camera while you are out and about.

Spring bird migration has begun with ducks returning north as waters open in late winter. It’s also an excellent time to spot bald eagles since trees are bare.

When seeing wildlife, I go by the adage that you have to be in the right place at the right time. And always be on the lookout. Wildlife may be in one area and gone in only a few minutes.

Last Sunday afternoon while taking a drive, we spotted a pair of bald eagles at their nest not far from the dam at Independence State Park near Defiance. One was sitting in the nest (obviously incubating eggs) while the other sat about 10 yards away on a limb. The white heads on both were easily visible, but binos give you a much better look at these huge raptors.

Later while driving through the Oxbow Wildlife Area, also near Defiance, we spotted some hooded mergansers (5 male and 2 females) on the 40-acre lake in the area. The lake was abut 75 percent free of ice. A number of Canada geese also were present.

Seeing such birds made a chilly and windy day a lot more pleasurable.

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On Monday, Governor Mike DeWine last week signed into law House Bill 86, which contains an emergency gun law clause to fix a drafting error in HB 228.

It clarifies contradictory language on firearms, specifically what is and what is not “dangerous ordnance.” This means the confusing language from HB 228 is corrected immediately upon the bill taking effect on March 28.

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The Ohio Division of Wildlife (DOW) suggests planning a backyard habitat for spring as a weekend activity.

The wildlife agency says a backyard can easily be converted into a mini-refuge for native wildlife. A number of wildlife species have adapted to backyard settings and can be drawn to them by the proper habitat elements. Anyone - even with the smallest parcel of land - can help wildlife by creating habitat areas around their backyard.

The DOW suggests using this backyard conservation tip sheet from the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service to help you plan your backyard habitat this year: http://ow.ly/CWyR30nShxa.

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The first update to the species of fish in Ohio in nearly 40 years is well worth reading. Filled with graphics, charts and photos, “A Naturalists Guide to Fishes of Ohio” gives the reader a plethora of knowledge of the 170 species mentioned in the book.

The user-friendly book also includes the best fish streams in Ohio, the primary threats to fish, how to better observe them, or the top 10 most pollution-tolerant species, and much more detail.

The book is authored by Dan Rice and Brian Zimmerman and is based on a statewide fish distribution survey by Ohio State University. It is a valuable resource to fish enthusiasts and professionals alike.

The book is priced at $29.95 and is available at the Ohio Biological Survey’s website at http://www.ohiotbiologicalsurvey.org/pub_highlight/


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