Editor's note: Parts 1 and 2 of this series appeared in the July 9 edition of the Tallmadge Express.
COLUMBUS -- Ask the Ohio Department of Natural Resources about wild elk in Ohio and you'll find out there aren't any officially on the books.
"We are unaware of any wild elk in Ohio," John Windau, a spokesman for ODNR's Division of Wildlife, said in an email in response to that question.
And, Windau added, "There is no provision in the law to allow anyone to take a wild elk in Ohio; therefore, even if there were wild elk within Ohio borders, it would not be legal for someone to hunt them under current law."
But the status of elk hunting is changing, thanks to a provision included in the biennial budget bill.
That's one of 10 more things you should know about the state's new two-year spending plan:
1. Elk: Lawmakers added elk to the list of "game quadruped animals," with hunting regulated by the Ohio Department of Natural resources.
"Game quadrupeds" previously included "cottontail rabbits, gray squirrels, black squirrels, fox squirrels, red squirrels, flying squirrels, chipmunks, groundhogs or woodchucks, white-tailed deer, wild boar and black bears," according to the definition included in state code.
The budget provision enables ODNR to "regulate and manage the propagation, preservation and protection of elk," according to an analysis by the state's Legislative Service Commission.
2. Speaking of Species-related Law Changes: The new biennial budget also called on ODNR to establish a risk-assessment policy for potential aquatic invasive species.
That assessment will include determinations of which species should be included on the invasive list, using "the best available biological information derived from professionally accepted science practices in fisheries or aquatic invasive species management," according to LSC.
3. And Another Hunting Note: If you live outside of Ohio, the cost to hunt in the state is on the rise.
Non-resident, non-reciprocal state hunting licenses, which cost $124 this year, will run $140.50 in 2018, $157 in '19 and $174 in '20. Non-resident youth licenses are being eliminated, meaning younger hunters will have to pay the same fees as others.
Non-resident fishing licenses will increase annually to $49 in 2020 from the current $39.
There are other changes for deer and wild turkey permit costs, too.
4. School Transportation Alternatives: Districts will be permitted to contract with groups to study the use of alternative fuel vehicles by school districts.
Resulting reports will be required to include cost estimates and other information.
And that information could be used by districts seeking to borrow money to invest in new or converted vehicles.
5. Eating Local: The Ohio State University Extension office in Ashtabula County will be the focus of a pilot effort to increase consumption of locally grown or produced foods.
The northeast Ohio county will hire a "food policy coordinator," to connect consumers to producers. Nearly $49,000 was earmarked to cover the costs involved.
6. Drunken Drivers: If you get caught driving under the influence, you could be on the hook for the costs of laboratory analysis of your blood or urine, under language added to the budget.
Courts will be allowed to seek reimbursement for such costs from those convicted of operating a vehicle while intoxicated.
7. Unmanned Deliveries: "Personal Delivery Devices," unmanned electric units that travel primary on sidewalks, will be permitted under the budget bill.
There are specific requirements for the devices -- they can't go faster than 10 mph and must weigh less than 90 pounds, for example -- that would delivery consumer products to customers.
Also, the devices would have to yield the right of way to "human pedestrians," though the new state code grants the devices "all other rights and obligations applicable to a pedestrian under the same circumstances."
8. Prison Release Notice: The bill requires state prison officials to notify local law enforcement when felons are released.
Those notices would be due two weeks in advance, along with information about the crimes the affected offenders committed.
9. Nature Calls: No need to worry about finding appropriate facilities when out on Sunday afternoon drives.
Lawmakers included language in the biennial budget prohibiting the Ohio Department of Transportation from closing any rest areas located along any of the state's scenic byways.
10. Bingo! The Ohio Veterans Home will be allowed to offer bingo games to its residents, provided they are older than 18, the bingo operators aren't paid for their services and individual prizes aren't worth more than $100 (or $500 total for any given game).
There are other restrictions, including limiting games to no more than twice a week.