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ODNR Decimates Leadership of Wildlife Division

Discussion in 'Sound Off' started by BillsCustomCalls, Jul 10, 2017.

  1. Posted on July 10, 2017

    Jim Zehringer, director of the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) has removed nearly the entire leadership of the Ohio Division of Wildlife (DOW) in a move that hunting and fishing groups see as political payback.

    As the legislature ironed out its final differences in the two-year budget bill, a coalition of 41 sportsmen’s organizations led by the Sportsmen’s Alliance convinced the Ohio House and Senate to include increases in non-resident hunting and fishing fees. The increases are expected to produce upwards of $40 million in new revenue over the next 10 years towards a projected $220 million budget shortfall.

    The increases were initially opposed by the ODNR, which continued to tell legislators that the agency was solvent even though research clearly demonstrates the agency is facing the largest financial crisis in its existence. The research, and unanimous support of Ohio’s conservation community, convinced legislators to approve the fee increases as part of the budget bill signed on June 30.

    Director Zehringer’s response was immediate and without any consultation with the hunting or fishing community:

    • On July 3, ODNR removed civil service protection from the assistant chiefs of the agency, allowing the agency to bring in political appointees to fill these positions, which have always been experts in their respective fields. The move also cleared the way for the assistant chiefs to be fired without cause.
    • On July 5, Director Zehringer fired DOW Chief Ray Petering with no justification given.
    • On July 10, ODNR continued its decapitation of DOW leadership by removing the two assistant chiefs.
    • Additionally on July 10, Director Zehringer removed the Wildlife Management Section Chief, Information and Education Chief, Law Enforcement Section Chief and the agency’s head law enforcement training officer.
    • Finally, Director Zehringer removed the Division of Wildlife’s Federal Aid Coordinator – the person responsible for coordinating with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to ensure Ohio receives its fair share of federal aid dollars that come from excise taxes on firearms, ammunition, archery equipment and fishing gear.
    All but former Chief Ray Petering were offered alternative positions or demotions.

    “I’ve heard from many folks this morning that see these moves as little else but political retribution by Director Zehringer and the Kasich Administration,” said Evan Heusinkveld, president and CEO of the Sportsmen’s Alliance. “Continuing the pattern of the last 6 ½ years, the leadership of the ODNR has not had any dialogue, or expressed any urgent need, to entirely decimate the Division of Wildlife’s leadership with the actual tax payers who fund the agency – Ohio’s hunters and anglers.”

    Additionally, the Sportsmen’s Alliance has learned that neither ODNR, nor the governor’s office, communicated any need for these changes with members of the Ohio Wildlife Council – a group specifically created to advise the governor and director on matters impacting fish and wildlife resources. The Wildlife Council also had broken ranks with ODNR earlier this year, advising the governor and legislature of the need for the fee increases.

    “It’s clear that the leadership of the ODNR does not value input from the tax-paying public,” said Heusinkveld. “Ohio sportsmen and women have become increasingly concerned that ODNR leadership has intentions of raiding the wildlife fund of sportsmen’s dollars that are intended for fish and wildlife conservation. The complete overhaul of the leadership of the Division of Wildlife will only serve to further those fears and sever any trust remaining between sportsmen and women and this administration.”

    About the Sportsmen’s Alliance: The Sportsmen’s Alliance protects and defends America’s wildlife conservation programs and the pursuits – hunting, fishing and trapping – that generate the money to pay for them. Sportsmen’s Alliance Foundation is responsible for public education, legal defense and research. Its mission is accomplished through several distinct programs coordinated to provide the most complete defense capability possible. Stay connected to Sportsmen’s Alliance: Online, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
  2. When Kasich was running for governor I warned he wouldn't be a friend to hunters/gun owners
    longhaulpointer and adelmo like this.

  3. When Kasich ran for Governor we had a turd sandwich both times on the opposite side. Ted Strickland turned into an anti-gun Clinton lover when he thought it would get him a job in her admin after she was President.

    The ODNR is totally out of control. I posted something on this matter several weeks ago and was told it was much ado about nothing by all the local experts on here.
  4. "without any consultation with the hunting or fishing community"......Sounds familiar.
    bilman63 likes this.
  5. I've never been a fan of Kasich I voted for him and hated it both times the other options were even worse, but he sucks on many levels. How is it we can fund the whole darn thing and they still put someone who knows very little into an appointed position that will tell us what's best for the hunting / fishing community.
    R. Toker and ohihunter2014 like this.
  6. When Kasich was campaigning for the Presidential nomination he boasted about how he had eliminated the state's deficit. As soon as he was out of contention, he stated that Ohio is going broke. He is a turd.
  7. R. Toker and ohihunter2014 like this.

  8. Hahaha only in Kasich's mind was he actually in contention for the POTUS I thought it was funny after he won Ohio he was acting like a real hero shooting off confetti guns. Then Trump called him Mr. 1 in 38 priceless.
  9. Are they filling the now vacant positions or removing the positions entirely? Looks like important roles. It's hard to get behind the DOW when they turned their back on Ohio sportsman over the last handful of years by exploiting certain wildlife populations to the fullest. ODNR doesn't care either and obviously wants the DOW to drown. My buddy in forestry said word is they are working towards a merger with fish and wildlife or removing forestry all together. Not sure that is an option but he mentioned it as being said. I kinda laughed when he said fish and wildlife has all the money..
    0rion likes this.
  10. That's kinda how I see it.....I'm in a lose/lose situation. I've not seen much the last few years that represents what I see going on from my stand. Hard for me to get behind and support someone that I think is doing a mediocre job at best.
    ohihunter2014 likes this.
  11. Maybe they have had a short fall of money. There's not even a GW per county. The DOW had to of had a idea the stuff was coming.
  12. Wait until they merge the DOW fully into the ODNR along with parks, watercraft etc. You will be lucky to see a GW for every 2 counties.
  13. My, my...vexing days ahead.
    UNCLEMIKE likes this.
  14. I don't think the world is coming to an end. I'm ready for a change to be honest with you. When my deer sightings go down every year and the bag limit gets raised that's about all I need to know. Let someone else give it a shot. The current group has lost my support. The GW issue is non-existent for me. In 25 years I've been checked 1 time by a state GW. Maybe another 2 times by federal. The one time I was checked by a state GW it wasn't even in the county I currently hunt.
  15. They aren't going to merge DOW with another division. But you better consider that they are going after license monies for use in other divisions. Maybe not right away, but that is the goal. It will require changing state laws but that is doable, especially if enough people don't fight it. The failure of sportsmen's groups to get resident fee increases in the budget has the DNR now feeling pretty good about their ability to get their way at the statehouse. And now they have eliminated any/all DOW leaders who might get in their way. This is not the first attempt by DNR to get at those monies. There's a long history behind it.
    R. Toker likes this.
  16. There have been statements made by both the head of the ODNR and the Governor in meetings with the DOW that hunters and fishermen don't matter it's all about the parks. Be concerned, trust me.
  17. Then charge a user fee for the parks. We have to pay for licenses tags etc to pursue our sport. Let park users pay too!!!
    pincher, medicsnoke and R. Toker like this.
  18. If DNR gains access to fishing/hunting/trapping license fees and can distribute them however they see fit among all divisions, rather than being forced by state law to allow DOW to use them for fishing/hunting/trapping-related activities only, we are looking at a major paradigm shift in the conservation of Ohio's fish and wildlife resources. It is the difference between having a stable DOW that carries across administrations with professional fish and wildlife managers running the show, versus an unstable DOW with appointed leadership that may change every four years (or less). And now, a precedent has been established to include more than just the Chief as a replaceable leader. In the end, the short-term priorities of an administration would usurp the priorities of the sportsmen who still provide the funds.

    I get that some folks are unhappy with DOW. But we know who they are, who is in charge, have an opportunity to build relationships with them and get our priorities known and addressed, and can help them fight off DNR attempts to access the license revenues. When previous DOW leaders have retired or been replaced, it is almost always been by other DOW professionals that have a relationship with Ohio sportsmen. The wheel keeps turning and stability exists. Instability results from having new leaders over DOW programs every four years or so. I fear that's where we are headed. The potential impacts are far-reaching. How about opening the door for an anti-hunting administration to get access to sportsmen's funds?

    At this point, the DOW leaders are gone and we had no say in it. We must protect the state laws that preserve how license revenues are to be used and by whom. The administration and legislators should be informed about how we feel about what has happened, about these laws, and about who fills these vacant positions in DOW. We just lost several well-trained, veteran professional managers who genuinely cared about Ohio sportsmen and paid a dear price for it.
  19. Mister Breeze post sums it up to perfection! Thank you, what I've been saying all along.
    Wildman18 and bilman63 like this.