Few 2004-2005 Hunting Rule Changes Proposed

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Ohio sportsmen will see few changes to next year's hunting and trapping regulations, based on proposals presented to the Ohio Wildlife Council by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) Division of Wildlife.

Among the changes proposed for the 2005 hunting season include an earlier opening for spring wild turkey season. Instead of opening during the last week of April, the proposed opening date would be the Monday closest to April 21. For 2005, the opening date would be April 18.

This change is in response to Ohio turkey hunters who have expressed strong interest in an earlier opening date. Data collected by wildlife biologists indicate that an earlier opener will have no biological effect on Ohio's wild turkey population.

September 1 is again proposed as the kick-off date for the state's fall hunting seasons - with the opening of squirrel, dove, Canada goose, teal, rail, moorhen and snipe hunting. Other proposed hunting and trapping rules and season dates will be similar to those now in effect - with only slight changes in next fall's opening season dates.

A separate wildlife council meeting will be held on February 11 to discuss suggested framework concerning the state's deer hunting seasons. Once deer season closes on January 31, wildlife biologists will assess the 2003-04 deer season results before recommending any modifications to current zone boundaries and bag limits.

Open houses will be held on March 7 in each of the state's five wildlife districts. These forums will provide public opportunities to view and discuss proposed hunting and trapping regulations with state wildlife officials. Directions to the meetings can be obtained by calling 1-800-WILDLIFE.

A statewide hearing on the proposed rules will be held at 9 a.m. on Thursday, March 11, at the wildlife division's District One office, located at 1500 Dublin Road in Columbus. After considering public input, the Ohio Wildlife Council will vote on the proposed rules and season dates during its April 7 meeting.