Casts and Blasts from June 27 KDWPT Commission meeting

More details from Thursday’s Kansas Wildlife, Parks and Tourism Commission meeting in Garden City.

YOU CAN CLICK HERE TO READ THE ORIGINAL STORY IN SUNDAY’S EAGLE.

– Most commissioners really seemed to feel they were in a “no-win” situation when they voted on the game warden’s request to make it illegal to use vehicles and/or two-way communications for hunting coyotes during the firearms deer season.

The request was made because game wardens regularly come across people illegally hunting deer with those two methods, and saying they’re hunting coyotes.

“The toughest thing for me is to not give our law enforcement guys the teeth they need,” said Commissioner Don Budd, of Kansas City.

“We need some baseline data….we’re not going to know if anything we do is really effective,” Commissioner Randy Doll, of Leon, said of wanting to now exactly how many complaints game wardens get annually about such illegal deer hunting.

B.J. Thurman, supervisor for about half of Kansas’ game wardens, estimated all of his officers get about two such complaints each firearms deer season, but indicated the problem could be more wide spread.

Every commissioner verbally expressed a fear that passing such a regulation would unfairly punish coyote hunters who are using vehicles and two-way communications legally.

Commissioners asked for more exact numbers of such complaints, and wish to discuss the issue further next year.

–Tom Bidrowski, Wildlife and Parks waterfowl biologist, said duck limits, and seasons and limits on geese, should closely resemble last year’s. Commissioners will vote on seasons at an Aug. 1 commission meeting in Yates Center. See the above link for possible conflict between staff and commissioner recommendations.

– Debate for setting the season for Kansas’ southeast duck zone was less “spirited” than last year. Budd said he didn’t want things to be as heated, and said his recommendation gives Kansas hunters three opening weekends.

– Keith Sexson, Wildlife and Parks assistant secretary, told commissioners the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has announced they’ll delay deciding if lesser prairie chickens should be placed on the threatened or endangered species list until around March 31. That means Kansas can have a season for the birds this fall and winter.

– Linda Craghead, tourism and state parks director, said the state’s new Park Passport program, which allows people to purchase annual state park passes at reduced rates when they register their vehicles, is doing fairly well.

She said the department’s goal is to get at least 5 percent of all vehicles to carry such tags. Currently, the rate is about 3.5 percent. About a dozen counties currently are getting more than 10 percent of their vehicles in the program. Butler County is one  of those counties.

Craghead said they need at least 4.5 percent to off-set losses in funding from the Kansas a legislature.

– Jim Pitman, Wildlife and Parks upland bird biologist, said about 73,500 turkey permits or tags were sold for the 2013 spring season. That’s an increase of about 10,000 from 2012. He said increased turkey numbers across eastern Kansas were probably responsible for the increase. Pitman predicted the 2013 spring harvest was probably also better than 2012.

– Mike Miller, information chief and Pass It On coordinator, said the department would like to decrease the costs youths pay for hunting permits in Kansas. Miller quoted figures from Missouri and Nebraska that showed youth participation can grow quickly when prices are lowered.

For instance, when Nebraska dropped non-resident youth deer hunting permits from $177 to $5  sales eventually went from 128 to 921 permits sold. Early discussion is that no youth permits would be cut by more than half in Kansas, like non-resident deer permits going from $300 to $150.

Miller hopes the decrease in Kansas prices will be made up for with the sale of more youth deer permits.

– All seven commissioners were in attendance. It was the last meeting for Commissioner Debra Bolton, of Garden City, who had served two terms.   Gov. Sam Brownback has yet to appoint her replacement