Daily Archives: November 7, 2012

Hunters Reminded of Prairie-chicken Permit for 2012

Data from survey will benefit lesser and greater prairie chicken management strategies.

Kansas boasts healthy populations of both lesser and greater prairie chickens. In fact, it’s probably the only place in the world where a hunter could harvest a greater prairie chicken, a lesser prairie chicken, a ring-necked pheasant and a bobwhite quail in the same general area. While Kansas pheasant and quail hunting traditions, which kick off November 10, overshadow prairie chicken hunting, a loyal cadre of bird hunters will open the regular prairie chicken season on November 17.

Traditionally, Kansas bird hunters needed only a Kansas hunting license, unless they were exempt by law. However, in 2012 a prairie chicken hunting permit is required for anyone who hunts lesser or greater prairie chickens. The permit is $2.50 and is available online or wherever licenses are sold. The Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism (KDWPT) will see no revenue from this permit, and the fee is the minimum charge for vendor and automated service fees.

The purpose of the permit is to allow KDWPT to learn more about prairie chicken hunters, harvest numbers and distribution. A random sample of permit holders will be sent a survey after the season to gather data, which will be used for future management decisions.

The lesser prairie chicken is being considered for listing under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS). This is despite an increase of both species in population and range in western Kansas over the last 15 years, largely due to voluntary landowner enrollment programs included in the federal Farm Bill, primarily the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP). KDWPT opposes the proposed listing and is concerned about landowner participation in future conservation programs, which benefit prairie chickens and other grassland wildlife should they get listed.

“Collecting this data will provide us with the best chance to continue hunting lesser prairie chickens in the face of pending threatened or endangered species listing by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service,” said Jim Pitman, KDWPT small game program coordinator. “The greater prairie chicken is not currently a candidate for federal listing, but we included them in the permit requirement because in parts of Kansas, their populations are struggling much more than those of their smaller cousin. We are being proactive and are attempting to avert a similar situation to the one we face now with lesser prairie chickens.”

Season dates for the regular season in the Northwest and East units are Nov. 17-Jan. 31, 2013. The daily bag limit is two birds, in single species or combination. The Southwest Unit season runs Nov. 17-Dec. 31, 2012 and the daily bag limit is one.

The prairie chicken boundary units have been modified slightly for this season, so hunters should consult the 2012 Kansas Hunting and Furharvesting Regulations Summary for further details. A map of prairie chicken units is available online on the KDWPT web site at http://www.ksoutdoors.com/news/Hunting/Hunting-Regulations/Maps/Prairie-Chicken-Unit-Map.

Pheasant and Quail Seasons Open November 10

Kansas’ bird hunting tradition continues

Much of Kansas is still in the grips of a stifling drought, and even though the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism’s (KDWPT) pheasant hunting forecasts aren’t optimistic, upland bird hunting traditions will be honored this month. Pheasant and quail seasons open Nov. 10 statewide and remain open through Jan. 31, 2013. Annual Kansas pheasant and quail harvests usually rank among the top two or three states, and even though harvests will be down this year, Kansas will still rank high.

Two years of drought and extreme summertime temperatures have reduced pheasant and quail numbers, especially in the southwest portion of the state. Pheasant numbers are better in the northwest and northcentral regions, and quail numbers have remained stable or increased in the northeast, Flint Hills and southeast regions.

Kansas has long been a bird-hunting destination for hunters, who spend money on lodging, gas, food and other services while they’re here. Hunters provide many rural communities with an important economic boost each year. According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s “2011 National Survey of Fishing, Hunting and Wildlife Associated Recreation,” hunters spend more than $400 million annually in Kansas. Hunting trip-related expenses alone total nearly $150 million each year. Hunting is big business and important to the state economy.

Good pheasant and quail populations are important to attract hunters, but in the end, bird hunting is only part of the reason hunters anticipate opening day. Many avid bird hunters hunt each fall to renew friendships with other hunters and landowners and maintain family traditions. Many also return because of a connection with the land they’ve hunted for years. There is much more to the hunting tradition than killing birds.

So even though the forecast is less than stellar this year, hunters willing to travel and work for birds can find success. The best advice is to use the 2012 Upland Bird Forecast to locate a region with the type of hunting you’re looking for. Then pick up or download a copy of the 2012 Kansas Hunting Atlas, which includes maps featuring all public hunting lands, as well as more than 1 million acres enrolled in the Walk-In Hunting Access (WIHA) program. WIHA lands are privately owned and leased for public hunting. The atlas will provide information including location, size, dates open and primary hunting opportunities for each tract enrolled.

Officials with KDWPT remind hunters that landowner permission is required before hunting on private land, whether the land is posted or not. Land posted with purple paint on fence posts is the same as land posted with “Hunting By Written Permission Only” signs and both types require written permission before hunting. With conditions this dry, hunters need to also be aware of fire danger. Avoid driving vehicles in tall grass and never smoke in the field.

Electronic Registration of Deer Available

Registration number allows hunters to process deer in the field

Nearly 100,000 hunters will pursue deer in Kansas this fall, and those numbers will peak from now through early December. The archery season is open, and November is the most popular month with bowhunters. The regular firearm season is Nov. 28-Dec. 9. One important regulation hunters should be aware of is deer must be tagged before being moved from the site of the kill. Unless a hunter has an either-sex permit, the head must remain attached to the carcass while in transit to a residence or place of commercial processing or preservation. However, the agency does offer a voluntary option for transporting harvested deer that allows hunters to register their deer through the Internet, using photos taken at the harvest site. Once registered, the hunter may then transport the carcass without the head attached. If Internet access is unavailable at the kill site, the hunter can retain the photographs while in transit and a registration number can be obtained later. To access the electronic deer check-in, go online to the KDWPT website, www.ksoutdoors.com, and click “Hunting/Big Game/Deer/Deer Check-in.”

This is not a telephone registration system and it is not required.

The hunter is walked through the registration process and given the necessary instructions. The registration process requires the hunter to submit two digital photographs — one close-up clearly showing the completed tag attached to the deer and a second showing the entire body of the deer with the head still attached. Once logged on to the KDWPT website, a hunter must submit the photos and enter the KDWPT number from their permit, time and date of the kill and the county where the deer was taken. A confirmation number will be issued by email when the photos and data are successfully received. This confirmation number must be retained during transportation.

Once these steps are completed, the deer head may be removed and the carcass prepared for transportation. The system allows KDWPT staff to see the deer and the hunter’s completed tag without the time and expense of maintaining a check station. This flexibility is a benefit to both the hunter and KDWPT.

This option was developed to address two important issues regarding deer carcass transportation. The first concern is about the movement of any material from a deer that may contribute to the transmission of chronic wasting disease (CWD). It is believed that spread of CWD could be diminished if certain body parts affected by the disease are not moved from the site where the deer is taken. Because CWD affects the brain and central nervous system, the transportation of a deer head and skeleton from one location to another is considered a likely means for the disease to spread. The new registration system allows a hunter to leave these items at the kill site, minimizing the possibility of spreading CWD.

The second concern is directly related to the first. Many states have adopted strict regulations to prevent the spread of CWD. Typically, these regulations do not allow the transportation of a deer head with brain tissue from a state with confirmed CWD cases. Hunters have been cited in other states and their deer confiscated for not complying with the transportation laws of that state. The new registration system allows a hunter to properly dispose of the head and legally transport the boned meat, as well as the cleaned skull cap and antlers, to the hunter’s home.

More information on CWD and transportation laws may be found on the KDWPT website, www.ksoutdoors.com under “Hunting/Big Game/Chronic Wasting Disease.”