the late 1800s and the early 1900s, many of Ohio’s native wildlife
species were all but decimated by loss of habitat and unregulated
hunting. Waterfowl populations were declining drastically due to
pollution. White-tailed Deer and Wild Turkey, some of Ohio’s most
abundant animals, were gone from the state.
During the 1940s, Natural Resource and Conservation Agencies were
formed to instruct and teach land users on proper land management,
pollution control, and regulated hunting. With the help of these
agencies, the proper habitat returned, and so did the wildlife.
Today, wildlife that was once gone from this area has returned to
great numbers again. Two of Ohio’s great game species, the
White-tailed Deer and the Wild Turkey, are now very plentiful in the
We now have 681,000 deer and nearly 225,000 Wild Turkey in Ohio.
Both of these species, along with many others, can be found in the
Barnesville area and adjacent lands in Belmont County.
The diversity of wildlife in the Barnesville area makes this area a
great place to enjoy many different types of recreational
activities. Whether you enjoy hunting or fishing, hiking or bird
watching, or if you are just a wildlife enthusiast, the
opportunities are endless.
In the northwestern part of the county lies nearly 14,200 acres of
wildlife area. This area is called Egypt Valley Wildlife Area and is
owned by the State of Ohio. All of the acreage is open to the
public. The wildlife area contains many different habitat types from
upland hardwood forest to bottomland wetlands, and grasslands to
brushlands. These habitat types provide many types of homes for many
species of wildlife such as White-tailed Deer, Wild Turkey, Ruffed
Grouse, Cottontail Rabbits, Squirrels, all sorts of song birds, many
types of waterfowl, coyotes and even the occasional Black Bear.
North of the wildlife area is the Piedmont Reservoir Region, which
in itself offers a vast number of recreational opportunities. If
you'd like to fish for Muskie and Saugeye or watch a Bald Eagle
gliding gracefully through the sky, Piedmont Lake is a place you
Piedmont Lake and it’s watershed is also a place where you may get a
chance to catch a peek at a species that has been reintroduced to
Ohio and has now increased it’s population - the River Otter. The
River Otter was recently taken off the state’s Endangered Species
list and now numbers about 3,400 statewide.
In the Southwestern part of the county just below Barnesville is the
Barnesville Reservoir Area. There are three reservoirs, and around
the shores of them you can find mature upland hardwood forest that
provide food and homes to many woodland creatures. The largest of
the three reservoirs is Slope Creek. Every spring the Ohio Division
of Wildlife stocks Rainbow Trout, making it a popular early season
fishing spot. These reservoirs are also great places to view one of
Ohio’s most numerous waterfowl species, the Canada goose.
east, near the town of Belmont, is Barkcamp State Park. The park has
a mixture of farmlands, wooded areas, and grasslands, making it a
popular hangout for wildlife. Barkcamp has many camping sites
available, hiking trails and bridal trails. The park is also opened
to hunting from late fall through winter For specific dates and
regulations, stop by the park office or call and talk with one of
the park staff. The park’s most popular spot is 117 acre Belmont
Lake. The lake has good populations of Largemouth Bass, Catfish, and
Bluegills. The Division of Wildlife stocks Rainbow Trout in this
lake every spring, making it another popular fishing spot.
With all of this wildlife making Belmont County home, it is not
uncommon to have some conflicts arise between people and the
wildlife. The Belmont Soil and Water Conservation District, in
cooperation with Ohio Division of Wildlife, has provided a Wildlife
Specialist to address such issues in Belmont County. The wildlife
specialist will work with landowners to provide an improved habitat
or better food for wildlife and will work with landowners to come up
with techniques to keep wildlife populations at healthy levels for
the benefit of the wildlife, the environment, and the landowner. If
you or someone you know is in need of assistance with wildlife
issues, you can call the Belmont Soil and Water Conservation
District at (740) 425-1100 ext. 110 and ask for Wildlife Specialist