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Buy a new Johnson or Evinrude and you will also buy a new company.

Area boat motor owners reacted with surprise upon hearing the December announcement that Outboard Marine Corp. had filed for bankruptcy under Chapter 11.

OMC, manufacturer of Johnson and Evinrude engines, had maintained a 30 percent North American market share for outboard motor sales. In years past, anglers and boaters considered OMC the Microsoft of boat motor manufacturing.

"About 20 years ago, OMC had slightly more than 60 percent of that market," Fran Brobeil at Brobeil Marine said.

Tuesday, the company and all its holdings were auctioned off to Bombardier Corp. of Canada. The new owners will continue to produce OMC products under their popular Johnson and Evinrude names.

New OMC motors will be covered under an exclusive service protection plan offered by Genmar Holdings, a company that builds Aquasport, Carver, Crestliner, Hatteras, Larson, Logic, Lund, Nova, Ranger, Trojan and Wellcraft marine products at nine centers in the United States and Canada.

Brobeil says, "With this new ownership, everything will go back to normal quickly. Parts will be available to dealers and repairs will go on as usual for all models (carbureted, Fitch or four-stroke) in their OMC outboard motor line."

Exam times

Two Department of Environmental Conservation licensing exams are scheduled for April. A wildlife rehabilitator examination will be given April 13, with a registration deadline of March 23. A Falconry exam will be offered April 27, with applications due by April 13.

Both tests require preparation before registration. For locations and application details, call (518) 457-0689 or write: NYSDEC Special License Unit, 50 Wolf Road, Albany, N.Y. 12233-4752.

Essay contest

West Falls Conservation Society offers a $500 award for the best written, 500-word submission on a critical environmental issue of 2001. The contest, open to graduating seniors of East Aurora, Holland, Iroquois, Orchard Park or Springville, children of WFCS members or local college students, requires applications made by April 25. For complete details, call Jerold Lewandowski at 662-4559 evenings.

Canadian air rifles

Canadian Customs officials at Lester B. Pearson International Airport detained the Japanese Junior Airgun Team and seized their airguns while trying to determine if these pellet-shooting devices apply as "firearms" under Canada's new C-68 Firearms Act regulations.

The team traveled to Toronto to compete at the annual Crossman International Airgun Grand Prix. Under new, strict C-68 regulations begun Jan. 1, all persons with firearms must register them upon entering Canada, pay a $50 fee and comply with regulations that are still subject to differing interpretation by Canadian officials.

"This sort of incident is virtually guaranteed to happen again and again until the government repeals this law. Some welcome to Canada, eh?" said Owen Nisbett, Canadian Shooting Sports communications director.

The team and their guns were eventually released, with the help of inquiries from CSS officials.

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