Major changes in bait, fishing and state park regulations

Hoping to prevent the spread of invasive species to new waters, Tuesday evening the Kansas Wildlife, Parks and Tourism Commission passed the following new regulations.

The special meeting in Topeka was held so the new laws can take effect Jan. 1. The commision usually doesn’t have December meetings.

–        Baitfish caught by anglers can only be used in the waters where it is caught. It can not be removed from that stream or impoundment.

–        No live fish can be removed from waters that hold an aquatic nuisance species, such as zebra mussels, white perch or Asian carp. Cheney, El Dorado and Marion Reservoirs are three such waters. Fish in coolers with ice or within emptied livewells can be taken from the lakes.

–         It is now illegal to release any kind of fish, including purchased baitfish or wildlife, into the Arkansas, Missouri or Kansas Rivers, any federal reservoir or state-managed impoundments. Fish can legally be released back into the body of water from which they were caught.

–         All boat or other vessels must be emptied of water before being taken on any public roadway. That means drain plugs must be removed, livewells and all bilge areas must be  emptied.

Most bait-related regulations passed 7-0. A possible amendment that would have allowed the transportation of green sunfish, bluegill and bullheads failed 3-4.

The commission also passed a regulation that eliminates second vehicle permits at state parks. For years such permits have been sold for about a $10 discount to individuals and families who have already purchased an annual permit for one vehicle.

Linda Craghead, Wildlife, Parks and Tourism assistant secretary, said elimating the permits would allow for better customer service and possibly increase state park income up to about $40,000.