Grow a home for Wildlife that lasts a lifetime
Did you know
Ohio ranks nearly last among all states in the number of acres managed for wildlife?
The Division of Wildlife receives no taxpayer dollars to conserve, restore and manage Ohio’s wildlife and its habitat. The majority of those efforts are supported by hunters and anglers through the purchase of hunting and fishing licenses and permits.
Financial support is also received through donations to the Ohio Wildlife Diversity Fund, purchase of specialty license plates, such as the Cardinal license plate, tax check-off, and the Ohio Wildlife Legacy Stamp.
Projects such as tracking the migration of Sandhill Cranes are possible in part because of funds derived from the sales of the Ohio Wildlife Legacy Stamp.
Focus Area Concept
Wildlife, like all of us, needs a home that meets its needs – a place that provides shelter, where food and water are plentiful, and the opportunity to successfully raise offspring.
A Division of Wildlife strategic plan is underway that specifically focuses on managing large areas of intact habitat to meet the needs of certain wildlife and state-listed species – by default, this approach enhances the entire wildlife community living within these habitats.
Efforts are being focused on primary habitats distinctive to the settlement: Wetlands, Forestlands, and Grasslands.
The strategic plan concentrates efforts and resources to provide all the necessary habitat requirements in a few, relatively large units of Ohio’s major habitat types, along with the remnants of unique habitats for species that are of limited distribution or have low populations.
This multi-scale conservation approach ensures the persistence and potential recovery of species at risk while simultaneously keeping the common species abundant.
Spotlight on Wetlands
Wetlands are dynamic ecosystems that act like sponges; reducing flooding, filtering out pollutants, recharging groundwater supplies and providing us with recreational opportunities such as bird watching and nature study.
Acres to be involved: Approximately 103,205 acres of publicly and privately-owned land in three regions of the state.
Objectives: Establish and maintain enough quality, wetland habitat in three focus areas to support viable populations of 76 species of wetland-dependent wildlife. As these habitats are restored, 125 other common and abundant wildlife species will naturally benefit.
Why Wetlands? Wetlands are among the most biologically productive habitats in the world, yet wetlands in Ohio also are one of the most frequently altered, leading to a significant decline in wetland-dependent wildlife species. Non-native, invasive plants – such as purple loosestrife, phragmites and Eurasian milfoil – are another threat to wetlands. Wetlands are also part of the water cycle because of their ability to absorb and filter run-off from farm fields and urban areas.
Three locations around Ohio have been selected as Wetland Focus Areas. They represent the best examples of wetland habitat currently found in the state. These areas are being managed to provide viable populations of as many wildlife species indigenous to the respective areas as possible.
1) Killbuck Focus Area – Wayne, Holmes and Coshocton counties
The focus area is part of the Killbuck Creek Valley in east-central Ohio. Endangered sandhill cranes nest each year at Killbuck Wildlife Area, which was also the site of Ohio’s successful river otter reintroduction program. These inland wetlands are important spring and fall staging areas for thousands of waterfowl during migration. As many as 23 species of ducks have been identified using the area. Shorebirds and other wildlife (some endangered) also depend heavily on this habitat, including the northern ribbon snake and green-backed heron.
2) Grand River-Mosquito Creek Wetland Focus Area – Trumbull County
Located in the Grand River Lowlands and the Ohio River drainage system of northeast Ohio, the area represents some of the highest quality waterfowl hunting wetland remaining in the state. The habitat composition includes numerous beaver swamps, riparian wetlands, bottomland forests and adjacent agricultural lands. This wetland complex is a significant staging site for migrating Southern James Bay Canada geese, and other species such as four-toed salamander, least weasel and prothonotary warbler.
3) Lake Erie Marshes Wetland Focus Area – Western Basin of Lake Erie
Prior to restoration efforts, these marshes supported the last four breeding pairs of bald eagles in the Great Lakes region. Of the more than 200 eagle nests in Ohio today, most of them are located in this same area. The marshes also attract hundreds of thousands of migrating waterfowl and migrating songbirds. In addition to the state endangered King rail, Lake Erie marshes-dependent species include Blanding’s turtles, black terns, northern harriers and snowy egrets.
The Lake Erie Fisheries Unit in Sandusky began an evaluation of walleye in the Sandusky River and Bay. Fifty walleye were implanted with radio telemetry tags prior to spawning and relocated during the spawn to examine spawning behavior and timing, habitat selection, and spawning locations in the river and the bay.
Since the beginning of the project, nine transmitters have been recovered from harvested or dead walleye. Four transmitter-bearing walleye were caught by sportfishermen using the best walleye jigging rod. One was caught in the Sandusky River in Fremont, the remaining three from Lake Erie. Three transmitters have been returned from commercial fishermen in the Ontario waters of Lake Erie. The final two transmitters were recovered from carcasses in Sandusky Bay, mortalities likely due to spawning stress.
The information gathered during this project will provide vital information about the Sandusky walleye spawning stock, and may provide managers with the tools necessary to protect and enhance this important stock.
The DOW staff will continue to monitor fish locations and movement patterns throughout the bay and river, as well as evaluating of Sandusky Bay spawning habitat to identify spawning locations and document spawning success.
In addition, the Ohio State University Aquatic Ecology Lab will be monitoring 200 additional transmitters in a continuation of this project. You are encouraged to release any walleye you catch that has a transmitter attached.
Spotlight on Forestlands
Where: Shawnee State Forest (Scioto & Adams counties) and adjoining lands. Known as the Tecumseh Forestland Focus Area.
Expected to benefit 55 species: 13 mammals, 30 birds, 7 reptiles & 5 amphibians.
Zaleski State Forest (Vinton & Athens counties) and adjoining lands. Known as the Appalachian Foothills Forestland Focus Area. Expected to benefit 57 species: 12 mammals, 31 birds, 8 reptiles, 5 amphibians and 1 invertebrate.
Why: The Tecumseh and Appalachian Foothills Forestland Focus Areas currently represent the best and largest examples of forest wildlife habitat in the state. Recommendations on how to manage for viable populations of native wildlife species indigenous to those areas will be provided to public and private landowners.
Forest Succession Stages = The progression of plant communities that develop while a forest grows toward maturity. Each succession stage supports characteristic wildlife species.
Some Ohio forest species can survive and reproduce only in the shrub thickets of early forest succession: blue-winged warbler, yellow-breasted chat, eastern towhee, snowshoe hare, and bobcats. Others need large expanses of unbroken, mature forest with little or no edge: woodpeckers, cerulean warblers and yellow-throated vireos. Many species do best in a mixture of forest ages: ruffed grouse, wild turkey, white-tailed deer and black bears.
Spotlight on Grasslands
Acres to be involved: Approximately 56,400 acres of publicly and privately-owned land in three regions of the state.
Objectives: Establish and maintain enough quality, grassland habitat in three focus areas to support viable populations of 51 species of grassland-dependent wildlife. As these habitats are restored, 125 other common and abundant wildlife species will naturally benefit.
Why Grasslands? Extensive loss of native prairie, pasture and small grains across Ohio has led to a significant decline in grassland-dependent wildlife species. Grassland nesting birds have shown the greatest population declines. Restoring preferred nesting habitats and leaving these dedicated lands undisturbed during the nesting months of May-July is crucial.
Three locations around Ohio have been selected as Grassland Focus Areas. They represent the best examples of grassland/prairie habitat currently found in the state. These areas will be managed to provide viable populations of as many wildlife species indigenous to the respective areas as possible.
1) Killdeer Plains and Big Island wildlife areas (Wyandot and Marion counties) and adjoining publicly and privately-owned lands.
Killdeer Plains and Big Island Focus Area is part of the Sandusky Plains in north-central Ohio. This region featured one of the most extensive natural prairies known to have existed in Ohio prior to European settlement. Because of this, it has excellent potential for grassland habitation restoration on a large scale. This focus area’s habitat is especially significant to migratory birds, including many threatened and endangered species, due to its proximity to the Scioto River migration corridor.
2) Paint Creek Wildlife Area (Highland County) and adjoining publicly and privately-owned lands.
Paint Creek Focus Area: part of the Darby Plains in west/southwest Ohio. This once extensive prairie region was centralized in today’s Madison County and had island prairies in all adjacent counties and down the river corridors of the Darby, Paint Creek and Miami watersheds. The impact of settlement dramatically impacted these regions. This area was chosen because of extensive grassland restoration efforts already underway, the historical significance of the grassland region, and the presence of a sizeable tract of publicly-owned land.
3) La Su An Wildlife Area (Williams County) and adjoining publicly and privately-owned lands.
La Su Ann Focus Area: very rural region of northwest Ohio. This area was once a beech-maple hardwood forest scattered with poorly drained wooded wetlands. As the land was cleared for agricultural use, forests were cut down and wetlands drained. Today, it represents one of state’s best remaining examples of a high-quality grassland wildlife community. In addition to some highly sensitive bird species, the state and federally endangered copperbelly water snake is known to inhabit the La Su An area.