Kansas Wildlife Federation

Sensible Wildlife Management

The Need
Forty years ago, there wasn't any such thing as a world-class deer herd in Kansas, and it was easy to get permission to hunt on private property. Much has changed, and Kansas hunters have both a greater variety of game and a harder time getting a place to hunt. As Kansas hunting becomes more well-known, transferable permits and out-of-state permits make money for the state government - and threaten to lock up what hunting opportunities there are into the hands of a select few.

KWF knows it's important to give landowners a financial incentive to protect their habitat and to create quality habitat. On the other hand, it's also important to make sure that Kansans have access to hunting grounds in Kansas, and to not treat wildlife as a "gold mine" that solely exists to be plundered.

Simply put, the Kansas Legislature and the Department of Wildlife and Parks have become enamored with selling deer hunting that more permits are being issued than the population can take. We need to make sure that wildlife management respects Kansans as well as the out of state hunter with money to burn, and we must make sure that hunting permits are issued only according to the best available science.

The Solution
The most important quality any state wildlife department can have is a love of objective truth. Being able to make hard decisions based on good data, instead of being forced to follow political directives, is a state far too rare in state wildlife agencies.

KWF intends to work with the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks as both watchdog and partner, depending on what's needed. No matter whether our viewpoints are in harmony or in deep conflict, we want the DWP to be a vigorous government agency - one that respects the Kansans who make its work possible and one that does a great job of safeguarding our natural heritage. Contributions to this campaign will go to both staff time and volunteer expenses as we work in Topeka to make sure the DWP is the best agency it can be.

Saving and Increasing Public Access

The Need
The spirit of the Old West is alive in Kansas in many ways, and one of the strongest is a belief in private property. For some people in the state, that becomes an intense hostility to the very concept of public lands such as state and national parks.

This antipathy means that in terms of public land ownership, Kansas is 49th out of the 50 states in the union. Per capita, Kansans have some of the worst access to public lands of any state in the union. As the state urbanizes and suburbanizes, people are losing access to being outdoors.

This has real costs, not only in terms of our quality of life and our wildlife habitat, but in terms of the state's economic development and diversity. Young people are fleeing the state, and with them go the ideas and energy that start new enterprises. Companies looking at relocation decisions have plenty of options, and other states not only have the same cheap land and well-educated workforce that Kansas does, but superior recreation opportunities. Public lands and access to outdoor recreation will help secure the state's prosperity in the future.

The Solution
KWF members need to support public access and public lands with every chance we get. Legislatively, funding mechanisms for the purchase of land by the state DWP will help. The state's highly successful walk-in hunting and fishing programs face being regulated out of existence, or defunded. In some states, antipathy towards public lands has become so strong that it has actually overrun property rights, as agricultural interests pass laws against landowners giving property to land trusts and land conservancies. This is a particular concern in Kansas, as we work to rewrite laws in order to allow people to leave land as a bequest in their wills to be given to the state's park systems.

Public lands are in every Kansan's interest. As our state becomes more urbanized, the demand and need for them will continue to grow. Contributions to this campaign will enable KWF to reach out and do outreach and education on the need for access and public lands, as well as our work in Topeka and across the state to protect existing public access programs and to institute new ones.

© 2004 Kansas Wildlife Federation, all rights reserved.
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