YANKEE LAKE, Ohio (WKBN) – Local hunting and fishing enthusiasts got the chance to talk with the Valley’s two state senators Monday night about the wildlife industry.
Sean O’Brien (D) and Michael Rulli (R) were at the Yankee Lake Ballroom to kick off the Northeast Ohio Sportsmen Roundtable.
Along with the senators, Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) Chief of Wildlife Kendra Wecker was also in attendance.
They talked about opportunities in the area and the state for both sportsmen and women.
“It is bipartisan — we have Senator Rulli doing this with us, [Rep.] Gil Blair [D] is here. So we have Democrats, Republicans because we realize we need to work together, and that’s the only way we are going to be able to solve these issues,” O’Brien said.
There were several presentations directly from the experts, such as the ODNR’s fish and deer research biologists. Subjects ranged from deer, turkey and pheasants to walleye, perch and invasive species like the Asian carp.
They also talked about how the state is purchasing new lands for conservation.
“We just recently put aside 31,000 acres of protected land for conservation, hunting and fishing, so we are really proud of that. When we are done with that tract, we should be approaching 60,000,” Rulli said.
Wecker brought several of her staff members to the roundtable and even shared her recent walleye fishing trip on Lake Erie.
“We came up to visit with the Sportsmen of Northeast Ohio and they had some questions and concerns about some of our programs. We came to meet them on their ground, one-on-one, and see what we could do to help them out,” Wecker said.
The ODNR presentations were in-depth and extremely transparent.
Hot button issues such as the encroaching Chronic Wasting Disease and other deer diseases were talked about.
Updates on the 2018 game camera surveys and on the reduced antlerless harvest that went into effect last year were also discussed.
“We have one of the highest deer harvestings here in Ashtabula and Trumbull County. So all of those are important that we have to protect these natural resources. How do we do that? We do that by talking and working to our state and local people. We do that by talking with our hunters who are on the front line to find out what can we do to protect this valuable asset that the state has,” O’Brien said.
The meeting was emceed by Whitetails Unlimited’s Denny Malloy.
It wasn’t just about the upcoming season, though. It was also about the future.
“We want to get these kids off the phones, off the video games. We want them to get in the field, let them experience the beauty of nature and all the wonderful things and experiences that can last a lifetime,” Rulli said.
The event was free, and if you weren’t one of the 80 or so people in attendance, the senators plan on having these sportsmen roundtables three or four times a year across their two districts in the future.