OHIO DIVISION OF WILDLIFE Chief reveals new funding source

LOWELLVILLE -- The status of Ohio's outdoors looks good to Mike Budzik.
Budzik, chief of the Ohio Division of Wildlife, says funding was up for new outdoor programs and new records in wildlife harvests were reported in 2001.
He made his comments during the Mahoning County Federation of Sportsmans Clubs banquet Saturday at Lowellville Rod & amp; Gun Club.
He announced that, beginning this year, one-eighth of 1 percent of the state motor vehicle tax will go into a fund that only can be used for improving fishing access.
"It's a good thing for us," he said. "We've never got that money before."
He also said more than $3 million in federal funding was acquired for wildlife diversity projects such as reintroducing the trumpeter swan to the state, restoring streams and producing wildlife education programs.
He said the state saw record wild turkey harvests last year with 26,000 kills in the spring and 3,000 in the fall. He also mentioned that almost 100,000 deer were taken during gun season and almost 22,000 were taken during muzzleloading season.
Fishing: "We had a great fishing year [in 2001] at Lake Erie for what we call the big four: walleye, yellow perch, smallmouth bass and steelhead," Budzik said.
Ohio fishing enthusiasts also bought 12,000 more licenses than usual, which Budzik said was the first statewide increase in years. The fishing holes should be stocked this year, he said, with the state's six hatcheries producing more than 40 million fish last year.
Budzik also beamed over the Ohio's record eagle population increase. Ohio's 73 known pairs of eagles produced about 105 eaglets last year.
Dave Brown, a Division of Wildlife officer who covers Mahoning County, said two of those active eagle nests are nearby -- in Austintown and Beaver townships. The Beaver Township nest has been active for three years with the other nest going on its fifth year.
Sunday hunting: Budzik also said new legislation to liberalize Sunday hunting laws in Ohio would be introduced by the U.S. Sportsmans Alliance, formerly the Wildlife Legislative Fund of America, within the next 10 days.
All public hunting areas, except some state parks, are open to Sunday hunting. There are a number of restrictions, however, as to who may hunt on private land on Sundays, based on acreage and property sizes.
State Rep. John Boccieri of New Middletown, D-57th, said he supports the idea. "I think it's necessary," he said of the plan to improve Sunday hunting laws. "Other states do it."

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