By Dan Armitage
Hunters in Hardin, Marion, and Wyandot counties have additional opportunities to harvest white-tailed deer as the Ohio Division of Wildlife (ODOW) continues to monitor for Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) in the region. Since the fall of 2020, 23 wild deer in Ohio have tested positive for CWD, all in Marion and Wyandot counties. A disease surveillance area was established in Hardin, Marion, and Wyandot counties in 2021 and remains in effect. CWD is a fatal neurological disease that affects deer and other similar species, including mule deer, elk, and moose. No evidence exists that CWD can spread to humans, pets, or livestock.
The Division established earlier hunting seasons within the disease surveillance area to slow the spread of CWD by reducing deer numbers before the breeding season. Archery hunting season began Sept. 9, and an early gun hunting season is open Saturday, Oct. 7 to Monday, Oct. 9.
CWD sampling is required for all deer harvested within the disease surveillance area Oct. 7-9, Nov. 4-5, and Nov. 11-12, as well as during the entire seven-day gun season (Nov. 27-Dec. 3). Staffed sampling locations will be available during the seven-day gun season at the addresses below.
- Big Island Wildlife Area Headquarters, 5389 Larue-Prospect Rd West, New Bloomington, 43341
- Killdeer Plains Wildlife Area Headquarters, 19100 CH 115, Harpster, 43323
- Wyandot County Fairgrounds, 10171 OH 53, Upper Sandusky, 43351
- Rural King, 233 American Blvd, Marion, 43302
- Hardin County Fairgrounds, 14134 County Rd 140, Kenton, 43326
- McGuffey Conservation Club, 6950 Township Rd 55, Ada, 45810
Outside the seven-day gun season, hunters should use self-serve kiosks for mandatory sampling or for free voluntary sampling throughout the deer season (now through Feb. 4, 2024). Kiosk locations are available at ohiodnr.gov/cwd. Instructions for sample submission will be provided at the kiosk. Successful hunters are not required to surrender their deer. Those with questions on having their deer sampled can call (419) 429-8322.
Outside the disease surveillance area, hunters may test a harvested deer at the Ohio Department of Agriculture’s Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory for a fee. Call (614) 728-6220 for more information.
In addition to mandatory testing, the following regulations apply within the disease surveillance area:
- The placement of or use of bait (salt, minerals, or any food) to attract or feed deer, as well as the hunting of deer by the aid of bait, is prohibited. Normal agricultural activities, including feeding of domestic animals, as well as hunting deer over food plots, naturally occurring or cultivated plants, and agriculture crops, are not prohibited.
- The removal of a complete carcass or high-risk parts from the disease surveillance area is prohibited unless the carcass complies with deer carcass regulations, or the carcass is delivered to a certified taxidermist or processor within 24 hours of leaving the area. Additional information on carcass regulations and a complete list of certified processors and taxidermists can be found at ohiodnr.gov/cwd.
- The proper handling of carcasses, trims, and parts dramatically decreases the risk of spreading disease. Hunters should properly dispose of deer carcasses by double-bagging all high-risk parts (brain, spinal cord, eyes, and lymphoid tissue) and setting them out with their household garbage for trash pickup, when permitted by waste disposal facilities. Those without trash pickup can double-bag the carcass and take it to a municipal solid waste landfill or bury the carcass at least 3 feet deep on the property of harvest. The Division of Wildlife provides receptacles in the disease surveillance area for proper carcass disposal.
For more information about CWD, visit wildohio.gov, contact your county wildlife officer, or call (419) 429-8322.
Powhatan Point Wildlife Area closed to public access
An agreement between CNX LAND LLC (formerly CONSOL Energy) and the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) Division of Wildlife to allow public access at Powhatan Point Wildlife Area in Monroe County ended Sept. 10. The area is now closed to all public recreation, including hunting, trapping, fishing, and birding.
Additional public access is available in Monroe County and the surrounding area, including Monroe Lake Wildlife Area, Sunfish Creek State Forest, and Wayne National Forest, which are open hunting and other recreation. Appalachian Hills Wildlife Area in portions of Morgan, Muskingum, Noble, and Guernsey counties offers more than 50,000 acres of public access.
Multiyear study underway to research Ohio’s wild turkeys
The ODOW and The Ohio State University are partnering to conduct a multiyear study on the survival and nest success of female wild turkeys. Ohio’s wild turkey abundance is thought to have peaked around 2001 and has fluctuated since then. Adult hen survival, nest success rates, and poult survival play a role in population levels. From 2017 to 2019, below-average hatches of turkey poults resulted in a decrease in wild turkey abundance. Hatches in 2021 and 2022 were above average.
To learn more about the factors that impact Ohio’s turkey populations, the Division of Wildlife joined a research collaboration which aims to understand wild turkey hen survival and nesting activity. Researchers affixed GPS transmitters to 49 hen turkeys in southeast Ohio in February and March of 2023. The transmitters provide biologists information on turkey movement, survival, and nesting activity. Gathering turkey survival and nest timing data is essential for the Division to structure science-based turkey hunting regulations. Maryland, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania are performing similar studies in collaboration with the Division of Wildlife.
Since capturing hens and attaching transmitters, researchers have closely monitored the movement and activity of these birds. The winter turkey flocks split up in late March and early April, with hens traveling up to 5 miles from the capture location to establish nest sites. Hen mortalities and failed nests were investigated as quickly as possible to determine the cause. Most predation events occurred while hens were incubating eggs, because this is a period of increased vulnerability.
Poults from successful nests were monitored and counted at two and four weeks of age. Hens will be monitored through fall and winter to examine movement, habitat use, and seasonal survival. The study will expand in 2024 by tagging and monitoring 100 additional hens. Young and hen turkeys will be tracked closely in the coming years; visit wildohio.gov to learn more.