What do you do to help manage Ohio's deer population?
My staff and I manage approximately 30,000 acres of state owned lands in eastern Ohio that are part of the state's wildlife area system. These lands provide deer hunting opportunities for people that do not have access to private lands. We also implement controlled hunts in some areas to increase opportunities for our constituents and to manage deer numbers when necessary.
What is a controlled hunt?
Controlled hunts are special hunts administered by the division that may restrict the number of participants, the area that can be hunted or the time that it can be hunted. Interested hunters must apply for these hunts through a drawing or lottery. These hunts can be conducted outside the regular hunting season. An example is the Youth Deer Hunt we provide at Salt Fork State Park.
What management practices do you use in wildlife areas?
The key to sound wildlife management is diversity. We implement a variety of activities with the goal of improving habitat conditions. They may include planting beneficial grasses, legumes, trees and row crops; herbaceous mowing; prescribed burning; timber stand improvement and timber harvesting and wetland management.
Salt Fork Wetlands
Salt Fork Forested Lands
Our Wildlife Management Plan for the Salt Fork Wildlife Area includes a habitat management component supporting deer and other animals. The Salt Fork Area includes both wetlands and woodlands as can be seen in the photos above.
Do you do anything else to manage the deer population?
Yes, we collect information about the deer that hunters bring in for permanent tagging during hunting season. The data collected provides our division research staff with age and antler growth rates of Ohio's deer herd by geographic region.
Knowing the health parameters of a deer herd gives us a better idea of the type of regulations we need to set to maintain a healthy and viable deer population. For example, if we identify a trend of reduced body weights and antler beam diameters, this may indicate an overabundant deer population competing for limited food supply and habitat. In response, we may decide to increase the annual deer harvest by allowing hunters to bag more deer in the next hunting season or by initiating controlled hunts.
What is most challenging about your job?
Making decisions about what management strategies will provide a healthy and diverse wildlife resource and providing a quality experience for the people who choose to use our wildlife areas.