Ohio Division of Wildlife

River otters

Nature's clown prince

No one wrings more fun out of life than a river otter. Unless, of course, it’s a family of river otters.

Over a period of seven years, 123 otters were live-trapped in Louisiana and Arkansas, then released in the Grand River, Killbuck Creek, Little Muskingum River, and Stillwater Creek watersheds. From those four modest stockings, the population expanded rapidly, and today, river otters have been confirmed in 75 watersheds in 83 of Ohio’s 88 counties.

A K-9 officer trains with his officer by biting an officer in protective gear.

Ohio's crime dogs

As hunting seasons open this fall, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (DNR), Division of Wildlife will have five more wildlife officers patrolling the state’s woods, fields, and marshes. Unlike the other 100 or so state wildlife officers, the new recruits will have cold, wet noses and wagging tails; they’re K-9s.

For the first time in its nearly 70-year history, the Ohio DNR has joined more than 20 other state conservation agencies in employing K-9 officers. During the past year, five dogs and their handlers have been trained and assigned — one per wildlife district.

Joe Bodis opens the top of a birdhouse to examine the insides.

Backyard conservationist

It’s easy to find Joe Bodis’s property in Huron County, a few miles southeast of New London, Ohio. Just look for the house surrounded by “weeds.”

In actuality, those “weeds” are a carefully planned and developed island of wildlife habitat in a sea of corn and soybean fields. “When I first moved in, neighbors used to stop and ask when I was going to mow the weeds,” Bodis says. “Now they ask what things they can do on their property to attract wildlife.”

A retired pharmaceuticals salesman and member of Firelands Electric Cooperative, Bodis moved to his 5 acres in 2002.

Rick Wilson pauses with binoculars in hand.

Farmers and hunters: Feeding the hungry

Twenty years ago this fall, Rick Wilson was driving along a Virginia highway when he spotted a woman standing beside a car with the trunk open. “From the way she was dressed and by the appearance of the car, it looked like she was not doing too well financially,” Wilson says. “When I stopped and asked if her car was broken down, she said, ‘No, but could you please help me load a deer into the trunk?’”