Ohio DNR Hires Ray Petering as Wildlife Chief

Ohio’s sportsmen and over 400 Division of Wildlife (DOW) employees are welcoming Ray Petering as their twentieth chief to run the department in the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, after the resignation of former Chief Scott Zody last fall.

Petering is an avid fisherman and hunter whose passion for these activities almost rivals his fanaticism for the Buckeyes. He has sought and successfully taken trophy-sized bucks, chased ducks and trapped and conquered most of the fish species Ohio offers.

Nowadays, he pursues saugeyes, bass and crappies on the inland, and walleyes and yellow perch on Lake Erie. He may not wait for the biggest buck in the woods anymore, like his 175 4/8 non-typical “bruiser,” saying that for the past 10 years, “If a buck makes my heart skip a beat, it’s a shooter.”

Petering retired in 2011 as the state’s top fish administrator, and is no stranger to the DOW. Well known and respected from his days as a researcher at Ohio State University’s School of Natural Resources, he took his first position with the DOW as a District One fisheries biologist.

From there, he was chosen to open and supervise an Inland Fisheries Research Station at the Hebron State Fish Hatchery before taking over as executive administrator of fish management.

This appointment had him overseeing fisheries management in all five Wildlife Districts, the Inland Fisheries, two Lake Erie Fisheries Research Units, statewide stocking efforts of six hatcheries, personnel management of over 100 employees and fisheries management negotiations with administrators from other states and Ontario.

Prior to early winter of 2011, he served as acting assistant chief over programs for the DOW, including oversight of Fish Management, Wildlife Management, Law Enforcement and Information and Education programs. He was also elected by his peers to serve as president of the Ohio Chapter of the American Fisheries Society, and later, the Ohio Fish and Wildlife Management Association.

As he made his rounds around the state during his first month on the job visiting with legislators, Farm Bureau representatives, sportsmen group leaders and his staff, he clearly communicated several goals:

  • “Us vs. them” needs to go away. License-buying hunters, outdoor writers and legislators should be partners and allies
  • DOW needs to move forward and never look back at the rocky road in the rear view mirror
  • Transparently communicate the intentions and biological rationale of DOW policy and proposed management changes to legislators, farm interests and license holders
  • Listen to the legitimate concerns and preferences of the DOW’s constituents
  • Allow the user groups to influence social management decisions that are not inconsistent with sound biological management practices.
  • Invite non-consumptive wildlife enthusiasts to help fund projects that benefit non-game species

Due to whole-scale retirements greatly influenced by changes in the state’s retirement policies, he inherits a mostly younger staff. He wants to help steer the agency into a direction that will provide smooth sailing well after his departure by nurturing his staff into leadership roles of their own.

Petering seeks to identify current issues, establish priorities and refocus on the basic overall requirement of all types of wildlife, including quality habitat.


John Hageman retired as Manager of Ohio Sea Grant’s Stone Laboratory Biology Station and was formerly an ice guide on Lake Erie at Put-in-Bay, Ohio.