Share Facebook Twitter Google + LinkedIn Pinterest I just learned that the Ohio Department of Natural Resources no longer plans to offer each county’s wildlife officer’s name and voicemail phone number in the 2018/19 Fishing and Hunting regulations booklets. Instead, we are supposed to call one of the five district offices “where staff will answer many of the questions immediately or route the call to the appropriate county officer, if needed,” according to an agency spokesman, who added: “The intent is to answer non-enforcement questions at the district offices immediately rather than having the caller leave a voicemail. We believe this change will be helpful to our customers and officers, and we will evaluate the results.”One major result will be one less opportunity for one-on-one interaction between sportsmen, landowners and their local wildlife officers. I can’t tell you how often I consult the back of those booklets to get the name and phone number of the officer in a county about which I need information — or wish to share some. Or just want to have the name and contact info handy when I visit a particular county. Is delisting a way to hide the fact that not every county has an officer these days?I also worry that this is another step towards the Department of Natural Resources establishing a single law enforcement authority. They’ve already combined Parks with Watercraft, the result being skilled watercraft enforcement professionals directing RV traffic at state parks while busy pubic reservoirs over-run with boats go un-patrolled. Between this and attempting to reduce funding for local sportsmen clubs to offer recruitment programs — and the lack of news I am receiving from the agency anymore, and the quality of that I do receive — I am concerned about the direction our Department of Natural Resources is headed.If you are too, we have our opportunity to voice opinions in person at the March 3 open houses held from noon-3 p.m. at each district wildlife office. Open houses held March 3 Sportsmen are invited to offer public comment regarding the proposed and future hunting,trapping and fishing regulations at open houses scheduled across the state. The open houses will be held on Saturday, March 3, between noon and 3 p.m., and online comments will be accepted from now through Sunday, March 4.Open houses provide opportunities for anyone interested in sharing input and participating in Ohio’s professional fish and wildlife management process. ODNR Division of Wildlife biologists and law enforcement officers will be available to answer questions and receive comments. Those unable to attend an open house can provide comments online at wildohio.gov.Open house locations are:• Central Ohio: Wildlife District One office, 1500 Dublin Road, Columbus 43215; 614-644-3925;• Northwest Ohio: Wildlife District Two office, 952 Lima Avenue, Findlay 45840; 419-424-5000;• Northeast Ohio: Wildlife District Three office, 912 Portage Lakes Drive, Akron 44319; 330-644-2293;• Southeast Ohio: Wildlife District Four office, 360 E. State Street, Athens 45701; 740-589-9930;• Southwest Ohio: Greene County Fish and Game, 1538 Union Road, Xenia 45385; 937-372-9261.Directions to the open houses can be found at wildohio.gov or by calling 800-WILDLIFE (945-3543). Public input gathered at these open houses and online is critical and will be considered during the formation of future hunting and fishing regulations. A statewide hearing on all of the proposed rules will be held at the ODNR Division of Wildlife’s District One office on Thursday, March 15, at 9 a.m.The Ohio Wildlife Council is an eight-member board that approves all ODNR Division of Wildlife proposed rules and regulations. The council will vote on the proposed rules and season dates during its meeting on Wednesday, April 11, after considering public input. Council meetings are open to the public. Individuals who want to provide comments on a topic that iscurrently being considered by council are asked to preregister at least two days prior to the meeting by calling 614-265-6304. All comments are required to be three minutes or less.