Sportsmen’s Alliance speaks up for nearly 40 years

A pivotal year for Ohio sportsmen transpired in 1977. A well-funded anti-trapping campaign was taking shape in the state. Outside money was pouring in and activists with celebrity cronies were working hard to bring the issue to the ballot. Ultimately, the decision was whether scientific wildlife management would survive the assault.
I was a new Division of Natural Areas and Preserves officer at the time. If I wanted to get involved in that resource management threat, I was required to do so on my own time. I understood the issues and gladly helped.
During this same time, a group of men led by Jim Glass saw the national implications of this emotionally charged fight. They wanted to be sure that wildlife scientists decided how resources were managed and that sportsmen had a voice.
Together, they formed a new organization which they dubbed the Wildlife Legislative Fund of America and Wildlife Conservation Fund of America, successfully leading the fight to defeat those anti-sportsmen/anti-trapping efforts.
Officially incorporated in 1978, the name was shortened in 2015 to the less page-filling Sportsmen’s Alliance. Today, the alliance is recognized as the national leader in defending sound wildlife management and sportsmen around the country.
Today, 40 years later, they’re again involved in a battle that threatens Ohio by mixing wildlife management with politics, a situation that could be far worse than that crisis faced in 1977.
The Sportsmen’s Alliance is now weighing in on the recent unprecedented, politically motivated changes to the Division of Wildlife, an agency that is self-funded through sportsmen’s licenses and permits:
“The Sportsmen’s Alliance led a coalition of 41 conservation groups that convinced the Legislature to approve increases in nonresident hunting and fishing licenses. After initially opposing all license increases, ODNR announced it would no longer oppose nonresident increases.
“Despite this pledge, ODNR senior staff continued to tell legislators the increases were not necessary because the Ohio Division of Wildlife was solvent. Research by the Sportsmen’s Alliance debunked that claim, revealing that Wildlife faces a $220 million shortfall over the next 10 years.
“Many sportsmen’s groups believe that ODNR is planning to consolidate the Division of Wildlife into other ODNR agencies or remove wildlife law enforcement from the division, a fear that ODNR Director Jim Zehringer denied at the annual Governor’s Fish Ohio day on July 11.
“In his remarks, Zehringer admonished the media to stop writing about those fears by sportsmen because the department says they are not true. Many sportsmen and women aren’t convinced, however.”
Evan Heusinkveld, president and CEO of the Sportsmen’s Alliance, also weighed in.
“Ohio’s hunters, anglers and trappers don’t know who to trust in ODNR right now, and there has been little to no dialogue to help ease those concerns,” he said. “They said they would support the nonresident fee increase, but actually opposed it. They said they were done with their political housecleaning “¦ but yet it continues. It’s hard to see how there can be a cooperative working relationship when there is no trust between the fee-paying customer and those charged with stewarding the resource.”
Of course, the Department of Natural Resources has instructed its handpicked replacements to assure all of us that the Division of Wildlife is safe and no more changes are coming, something that was also said to the Ohio Wildlife Council just prior to the removal of additional personnel to create their new “team.”
I bet they really, really, cross-their-hearts mean it this time.
“Trust your hunches. They’re usually based on facts filed away just below the conscious level.” — Joyce Brothers
Along the way
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Step outside:
• Today: 3-Gun Nation, UCOA, 6943 Marion Township 243, Findlay. Matches start at noon, setup starts at 8 a.m. New shooters should arrive and be checked in by 11:30 a.m. for a safety overview. Questions: Match details:
• Tomorrow: Sporting clays, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., UCOA, 6943 Marion Township 243, Findlay.
• Today and tomorrow: 50 3-D mixed animal archery match, registration opens 8 a.m. each day, Field and Stream Bowhunters, 11400 Allen Township 109, Findlay. Contact: 419-423-9861.
• Monday: Women on Target, 6 p.m., HCCL, 13748 Jackson Township 168, Findlay.
• Wednesday, 6:30 p.m.: Attention sportsmen, important meeting to discuss the plans for the Hancock County Fair tent, including: booth and display locations, grant volunteer forms, and volunteers to assist with the archery trailer and shooting simulator. Meeting will be held at Wildlife District 2 Office conference room, 952 Lima Ave., Findlay. Questions, contact Kevin Russell: 419-429-8332.
• Thursday and Friday: Trap and skeet, open to the public, 5 p.m., UCOA, 6943 Marion Township 243, Findlay.
• Aug. 19: Free No Child Left Indoors for those ages 6 to 17 and accompanied by an adult, 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., registration at 8 a.m., Discovery Center, Oakwoods Nature Preserve. Activities include a nature program, fishing, archery, canoeing, kayaking, BB and shotgun use, and more. Preregistration: Mark Plesec at
• Event canceled: The Aug. 19 trapshooting event scheduled to take place at Fostoria United Sportsmen’s Club has been canceled. Questions: 419-435-4953. You can also find them on Facebook.
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 45867-0413 or via email at



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