Birding is big business along Lake Erie coast

Birding along Lake Erie contributes $30 million to the economy every year, and Ohio’s 1.6 million self-identified birders alone spend over $750 million annually on their pursuits.
The Ohio Division of Wildlife and Ohio Sea Grant at Ohio State University have released the “Lake Erie Birding Trail Guidebook,” 232 pages on 88 popular and lesser-known birding locations all along Ohio’s Lake Erie coast.
In addition to locations of parks and other birding spots, the book lists commonly sighted species and noteworthy rarities, park amenities, and online resources for visitors.
“The Lake Erie Birding Trail Guidebook” not only makes it easier to spot both common and rare birds in northern Ohio, but it also gives birders the opportunity to point out their economic contribution to businesses with a set of “birder calling cards” that link owners to more information.
“Lake Erie and its environs are the premier birding destination in Ohio, and in the entire Great Lakes region,” says Jim McCormac, biologist with the Division of Wildlife. “Nearly 400 species have been found along the Ohio shoreline, and migration periods see enormous numbers of songbirds and waterbirds.”
“Every visitor to Lake Erie will consider this book an incredible resource,” says Jeff Reutter, director of Ohio Sea Grant and Stone Lab. “We were very pleased to partner with the Division of Wildlife, the Ohio Department of Transportation, and Ohio Sea Grant, to develop this guide.”
The guide is available online through Ohio Sea Grant for $13 per book, and wholesale at $175 per case of 14, plus shipping and handling. To order, visit www.ohioseagrant.osu.edu/publications or contact the Ohio Sea Grant office at 614-292-8971.
Information about birding in northern Ohio and a list of recent sightings is available at www.lakeerieohiobirding.info.
Along the Way:
Until the mid-1800s, sturgeon were plentiful in Lake Erie. They were so abundant that they were sometimes burned as fuel for steamboats while fishermen wanted their tasty meat and eggs. This led to over-fishing which destroyed the lake’s population.
Lake sturgeon were thought to be a distant memory, but, in the last few years, 15-20 reports have come in annually from fishermen landing one of the prehistoric fish. Most of them are juveniles, indicating the possibility of natural reproduction.
Now, the Ohio Division of Wildlife hopes to restore sturgeon populations as part of a larger effort to revitalize Lake Erie. The International Joint Commission, a U.S.-Canadian wildlife agency partnership, is working to reduce phosphorus runoff and large algae blooms that are damaging Lake Erie’s ecosystems.
Biologists want to give the sturgeon population a boost in the lake once it’s cleaned up, partly because the species are good indicators of the health of the lake’s ecosystem.
Sturgeon are sensitive to pollution and human activity, so if their numbers are restored, they could provide clues about the lake’s overall health.
Lake sturgeon are protected in Lake Erie and in nearly every other state in which they’re found. They are the largest fish in Lake Erie and can grow up to 200 pounds and more than 10 feet in length.
Step Outside:
• April 2 and 5: NRA Basic Pistol Class for concealed carry. UCOA, 6943 Marion 243, Findlay. Contact 567-525-4664 or 419-889-9930.
• April 5: Whitetails Unlimited Banquet at The Cube. 4 p.m. Contact 419-422-8451 or 419-422-1182.
• April 8: Tuesday Trap League begins. UCOA, 6943 Marion 243, Findlay. Contact 419-619-1700.
• April 9: Free Certified Fishing Instructor Workshop, 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Division of Wildlife, 952 Lima Ave, Findlay. Contact: 419-429-8347 by Wednesday.
• April 13: Ham Shoot, Fostoria United Sportsmen’s Club. Traps open at 10 a.m. 1324 N. U.S. 23, Fostoria.
Abrams is a retired wildlife officer supervisor for the state Division of Wildlife in Findlay. He can be reached at P.O. Box 413, Mount Blanchard, OH 45867-0413 or via e-mail at jimsfieldnotes@aol.com.

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