The duties of a wildlife officer do not always involve a citation. Often, officers are helping citizens and wildlife.
Incidents can have a humorous side to them as the first two will show.
One incident involved a wildlife officer using a Nerf bow and arrow and a wildlife rehabilitator to rescue a Cooper’s hawk in a Tractor Supply Company (TSC).
Logan County Wildlife Officer Adam Smith responded to a call that a Cooper’s hawk was trapped inside the local TSC. Store management had closed the store to protect customers.
Smith and a wildlife rehabilitator he had called to assist him constructed a net attached to long poles to reach the store’s tall ceiling to capture the bird. A number of attempts to capture the bird with the net were unsuccessful.
Smith located a Nerf bow and arrow in the store’s toy section. The wildlife officer figured the toy arrow might startle the bird just long enough for it to be captured. His theory worked.
After the duo examined the hawk and determined that it was healthy, the hawk was released outside the store and it flew away.
The next one involves a pair of individuals traveling from Chicago to New York and misidentifying an animal lodged in their vehicle’s motor and creating quite a smell in the car’s vents.
The two pulled into a service plaza in Williams County on the Ohio Turnpike and thought they had a raccoon stuck in the vehicle’s engine area. The driver was unsuccessful in dislodging the animal.
Fulton County Wildlife Officer Josh Zientek found the two men and their vehicle. He learned they had been trying for an hour to get the animal out of the engine. Zientek discovered from talking to the two that the animal had gotten into the engine in Chicago.
With the wildlife officer’s assistance, it was discovered that a dead ground hog was lodged in the motor and not a raccoon. The two men were appreciative and were able to continue traveling to New York City without the smell coming from their vents.
An incident in Hardin County this fall left a hunter quite pleased and with some venison for his freezer.
While hunting, a bow hunter watched a pair of bucks fighting, The end result was the larger buck killing the smaller one.
The hunter contacted Hardin County Wildlife Officer Ryan Kennedy about the incident and not wanting to see good venison go to waste, he requested a harvest receipt for the dead buck.
After Kennedy heard the hunter’s description of what occurred and examining the dead buck, he granted the harvest receipt.
The result of dead deer in another incident was quite different.
Allen County Wildlife Officer Craig Barr received a call in early August concerning two dead white-tailed deer near Lima. Barr could not determine a cause of death when the caller showed him the deer. The wildlife officer contacted several other nearby residents, but they had not seen or heard of any other dead deer.
A few days later, one of those residents contacted Barr about a sick deer near his pond. Barr euthanized the deer and had it tested for disease. As suspected, it was positive for Epizootic Hemorrhagic Disease (EHD). According to the Ohio Division of Wildlife (DOW), EHD is spread through the bites of tiny midges that flourish in muddy areas that develop during hot and dry weather.
These were not the only occurrences of dead or dying deer in the area. Barr and Van Wert County Wildlife Officer Nathan Robinson investigated and documented numerous such reports.
But there always are citations to be served for those who violate regulations.
Putnam County Wildlife Officer Jason Proinchok and Wildlife Officer Supervisor Troy Reimund had a bit of detective work to accomplish after receiving a complaint about a hunter who allegedly fired a shot through the window of a residence during the 2019 deer-gun season.
The pair located a hunter near the damaged home. Around the same time, State Wildlife Investigator Jeremy Payne arrived at the location and discovered the bullet lodged in the ceiling of the residence.
The Bureau of Criminal Investigation’s forensic lab confirmed the bullet sent to the agency was fired from the gun seized from the hunter during the investigation. The suspect was charged with negligent hunting and paid $357 for a fine and court costs, along with $1,000 in restitution to the landowner for the damages.
The next incident shows that duck identification is vital when hunting during waterfowl seasons like this fall’s early teal season.
Hancock County Wildlife Officer Antoinette Jollif and Wyandot County Nathan West responded to a report of a group of hunters shooting continuously at one of the ponds at Killdeer Plains Wildlife Area that is known to have excellent wood duck habitat.
The pair came across fresh feathers resting on the water’s surface and also saw several wood ducks fly over the pond. They contacted some hunters in the area, who said they were hunting for geese but were not successful. They discovered one of the hunters shot a duck that he could not identify. The hunter continued hunting after throwing the duck into the brush.
Richland County Wildlife Officer Nathan Kaufmann and his K-9 partner Officer May were called to the scene and located the duck, which was identified as a female wood duck. Wood ducks are not legal game during the early teal hunting season. The hunter was cited for taking a wood duck out of season and paid $325 in fines, court costs and restitution.
Al Smith is a freelance outdoor writer. You may contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @alsmithFL