The Ohio Division of Wildlife is looking for more than a few good men and women - 15 to be exact - who are willing to undergo the rigorous training needed to become commissioned state wildlife officers.
"We are looking for individuals who are passionate about our fish and wildlife resources, can work independently, and excel in one-on-one contacts with the public," said Patricia Mayes, human resources administrator for the division.
She said that a new class for wildlife officers is being formed because of vacancies, anticipated retirements, and promotions within the law enforcement side of the division.
Besides having a knack for what Mayes calls "good customer relations," a fair level of physical fitness is a must. Cadets are expected to be able to run 1.5 miles and do 40 situps and 40 pushups, for example. The fitness standards are those set by the Ohio Peace Officers Training Commission.
Cadets also must be able to swim 100 yards in five minutes and tread water for five minutes. "We want an officer who can physically do the job," Mayes explained.
Applications will be accepted beginning April 3. They can be filed through Tuesday, May 2.
To be considered for enrollment, applicants must be at least 21 years old and have a valid driver's license. A two-year college degree in wildlife management, criminal justice, environmental law enforcement, or related fields also is required.
Candidates who meet the minimum qualifications will be invited to take a civil service examination in Columbus, with top scorers going on for interviews and pre-employment evaluations. Those selected as cadets will attend a wildlife officer academy for six months. During peace office training, cadets will study wildlife law enforcement, fish and wildlife management techniques, and learn information and education skills.
An application package can be obtained by calling 1-800-WILDLIFE, or by visiting the Ohio Department of Natural Resources' Web page, www.ohiodnr.com/wildlife.
In the last cadet class in 2004, 8 of 16 members were from northwest Ohio. "I wonder if we're going to get all of these northwest Ohio guys [and/or gals] again," Mayes said.
Fishing report - The best walleye game in town, so to say, appears to be the Maumee River, with better action there than on the weather-chilled Sandusky River, or on wind-muddied nearshore waters of western Lake Erie.
Gary Lowry at Maumee Tackle said that he weighed an 11-pound, 4-ounce female walleye on Wednesday and one of 10 pounds, 15 ounces yesterday. Most fish being taken are males, or jacks, weighing two to four pounds.
Seven of 10 anglers are using Carolina-rigged floating jigheads, the tackle-man said. Best colors are white, chartreuse, or orange with multi-colored plastic tails, or Power Baits in lime-yellow, fire tiger, or "Christmas lights."
Fishing action was slowest on the Maumee at Orleans Park but about equal at other popular sites in the Maumee-Perrysburg rapids area. Water temperature yesterday was a tad above 40, which is a bit cool but not bad. The water level was slightly under elevation 581 feet at the I-475 bridge, with the popular rapids runs wadable.
Though not every angler was hauling them in, some took four-fish limits in as little as 30 to 60 minutes, Lowry said.
On the Sandusky at downtown Fremont, the water temperature yesterday was just 37 degrees - way too chilly - and action was very slow, said Brian Bury, state wildlife officer in Sandusky County.
On western Lake Erie, the weekend wind forecast looks good at least for a boat ride, said Travis Hartman, a biologist at the state's Lake Erie Fish Research Station at Sandusky. Lately the winds have heavily stirred up nearshore waters from Maumee Bay to the Davis-Besse area, but conditions were cleaner around the Bass Islands, Hartman said.
He expects boat anglers to be out fishing this weekend.
Down east in the Lake Erie steelhead trout tributaries, action was decent when drifting spawn bags in deeper pools through midweek. Air and water temperatures have kept fish in deeper water in various streams, from the Chagrin and Grand rivers to Conneaut Creek.
Most steelhead were not readily coming up on redds - shallow spawning gravel - in the cooler water.