Ohio Wildlife Action Plan

By the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies

Ohio has operated under a comprehensive management system for more than 15 years. The Comprehensive Wildlife Conservation Strategy is an extension of this larger planning system, which includes a long-term strategic plan to address the threats and opportunities for Ohio’s fish and wildlife resources.

The Ohio Division of Wildlife’s Comprehensive Management System incorporates all aspects of the agency, including personnel, fiscal, technical and biological information, into a system of checks and balances that ensures effective and efficient decision making and positive results for Ohio’s wildlife resources. The Division’s CMS is highlighted by a long-range strategic plan, regular communication and interaction with constituents and employees, and regular reviews and evaluations of activities in order to improve effectiveness.

The Division’s strategic plan, as well as the Comprehensive Wildlife Conservation Strategy, focuses on wildlife, their habitat, and people of the state. The Plan approaches fish and wildlife conservation with diverse strategies that involve not only the Division of Wildlife, but also private landowners, conservation organizations, and other governmental agencies.


Ohio ranks 47th per capita among the 50 states in the amount of public land available for outdoor recreation. Ohio’s private lands make up approximately 95% of the state, creating a challenging environment for fish and wildlife management. 

Wildlife Highlights 

Ohio enjoys a diverse wildlife community including healthy populations of white-tailed deer, wild turkeys, bald eagles, and numerous other game and wildlife species. Lake Erie is one of the most productive fresh water systems in the world, and is often referred to as the “walleye capital of the world.” In recent years populations of osprey, Karner blue butterflies, trumpeter swans, and other threatened and endangered species have increased substantially.  

Primary Challenges to Conserving Wildlife in Ohio

Loss and degradation of wildlife habitat continues to be the primary threat to Ohio’s wildlife, although invasive species and emerging wildlife diseases are also significant threats and will certainly be more important in the future. Examples of current threats include the loss of habitat to a variety of development interests, the introduction and expansion of invasive species such as the Asian Carp and purple loosestrife, and the continued threat from a number of wildlife diseases such as West Nile Virus and rabies.

Asian Carp

Various species of Asian carp continue to expand their range in the Midwest through a number of water systems such as rivers, canals and reservoirs. Their ultimate impact is unknown, but early indications show that they will have a significantly negative impact on native aquatic vertebrates, invertebrates and plant species.

Urban Growth

The Ohio Legislative Service Commission reports that from 1960 to 1990 urban land use expanded by almost five times the growth rate of the overall population of the state. This growth puts increased pressure on wildlife habitat and creates a complicated atmosphere for natural resources management.

Working Together for Ohio’s Wildlife

Ohio is home to more than 700 conservation organizations. The Division of Wildlife has on-going interaction with these grassroots constituent groups, as well as with statewide and regional NGOs, in order to understand their concerns and issues related to Ohio’s wildlife resources. 

In addition to this regular communication, the Division undertook five constituent group meetings specific to the Comprehensive Wildlife Conservation Strategy, and held a statewide meeting of key conservation organization leaders. These meetings highlighted the CWCS and the Division’s overall planning efforts and strategic direction. More than 250 participants attended these meetings, including representatives from The Nature Conservancy, the Ohio Parks and Recreation Association, the Columbus and Cincinnati Zoos, The Ohio Lepidopterists, Ohio Biological Survey, Cleveland Museum of Natural History, Columbus Metro Parks, American Electric Power, Pheasants Forever, U.S. Forest Service, National Wild Turkey Federation, Ohio Audubon, and the U.S Fish and Wildlife Service. Each meeting included a participant survey to determine their concerns and interests. Appropriate comments were incorporated into the final draft of the CWCS.


The Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies represents all of North America’s fish and wildlife agencies, promotes sound management and conservation, and speaks with a unified voice on important fish and wildlife issues.

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