Monthly Archives: November 2012

Fours States Approve Constitutional Protection for Hunting, Fishing and Trapping

by Agnieszka Spieszny

Outdoor Hub Reporter

This past election day, citizens in IdahoKentuckyNebraska andWyoming voted on separate proposals to add protection for hunting, fishing and trapping to their state constitutions. The measures were approved in all four states and now those activities are protected rights in each state’s constitution.

Voters in Idaho overwhelmingly approved proposal HJR2, which received 452,950 favorable votes, or 73.4 percent of the vote. Blaine County contained the most people opposed to the measure, where 65.3 percent of voters rejected protecting hunting in the constitution. Nebraska passed its own similar measure with a 76 percent approval rate.

These four states join 13 other states which had previously amended their constitution to protect these rights in their constitution, according to the Associated Press. Those states include: AlabamaArkansasGeorgiaLouisianaMinnesota,MontanaNorth DakotaOklahomaSouth CarolinaTennesseeVirginia,Wisconsin and Vermont, which is the only state to have written the measure into its constitution in 1777. writes, “voters overwhelmingly approved an amendment that the General Assembly passed in 2011 as a pre-emptive strike against anyone who would challenge Kentuckians’ right to “harvest wildlife.” At present, nobody is lobbying against hunting and fishing in Kentucky or legally challenging it. But somebody in the future might have, such as an animal-rights group, said the amendment’s sponsor, Rep. Leslie Combs, D-Pikeville. Now they can’t, Combs said.”

According to supporters, these new amendments also enable lawmakers and state game and fish departments to continue managing hunting and fishing, setting bag limits, regulations and choose hunting and trapping as the preferred methods of wildlife management.

Empowering Returning Veterans and Revitalizing Rural America

Are you a veteran with an interest in farming or ranching?  If so, please make plans to participate in an online Beginning Farmer training session on Friday, November 16th, from 7:00~8:30 p.m. Central time.

You can participate from anywhere in the world by connecting to this website:  

You will receive information on funding, program availability as well as contact information regarding resources for related benefits.

Topics to be discussed include but are not limited to:

♦ Access to credit

♦ Program availability

♦ Additional benefits

♦ Live question and answer session

This online Webinar is a joint project hosted by the Center for Rural Affairs, Farmer-Veterans Coalition, Farmers Union, AgrAbility and USDA/FSA.

For more information, visit  or call 402-617-7946 or any other phone numbers listed on the website.

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

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,, 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, under “Hunting/Big Game/Chronic Wasting Disease.”

Motorists Beware: Deer on the Move Now

Kansas deer-vehicle collisions peak in mid-November

Deer can be spotted near our roadways any time of the year. However, in the fall, motorists should be especially vigilant for deer crossing the highways. Deer breeding season peaks in mid-November, and this marks the period when deer-vehicle collisions are highest. That’s why the Kansas Depart?ment of Transportation (KDOT), the Kansas Highway Patrol (KHP) and the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism (KDWPT) are working together to raise awareness and help drivers avoid collisions with deer.

According to KDWPT biologist Lloyd Fox, the increase in deer-vehicle crashes is strongly influenced by the deer mating season, called “rut.” During rut, deer focus on mating; they travel more than in other seasons and pay less attention to hazards such as vehicles. Also during the fall, many deer move to new locations as crops are harvested and leaves fall from trees and shrubs.

Not only are deer more active during the fall, shorter days mean dusk and dawn — when deer are more likely to be on the move — occur when commuter traffic is highest. According to KDOT spokesperson Steve Swartz, there were 9,199 deer-vehicle collisions reported to KDOT in 2011, killing two people and injuring 297 others. Deer-vehicle collisions occur in every Kansas county, but counties with high human populations and high traffic volumes usually record the most deer-vehicle crashes;Sedgwick County recorded the most with 354, followed by Johnson County with 339 and ButlerCounty with 250.

Motorists should observe the following tips to avoid deer collisions:

● Be especially watchful at dawn and dusk when deer are particularly active;

● Watch for more than one deer. They seldom travel alone, so if one crosses the road, others may follow;

● Reduce speed and be alert near wooded areas or green spaces such as parks or golf courses and near water sources such as streams or ponds;

● Don’t swerve to avoid hitting a deer – the most serious accidents occur when motorists swerve and collide with another vehicle or run off the road and hit an obstacle;

● Heed deer crossing signs;

● Always wear a seat belt; and

● Use bright lights and slow down whenever the reflective eyes of deer are spotted.

According to KHP Lieutenant Josh Kellerman, if you hit a deer, slow down and pull onto the shoulder, turn on your emergency flashers, and watch for traffic if you have to exit your vehicle. If you have a cell phone and are on a Kansas highway, dial *47 (*HP) for a highway patrol dispatcher or *582 (*KTA) for assistance on the Kansas Turnpike, or dial 911.

Anyone involved in a vehicle-deer crash resulting in personal injury or property damage that totals $1,000 or more is required to immediately report the crash to the nearest law enforcement agency. Failure to report any traffic crash is a misdemeanor and may result in suspension of driving privileges. A salvage tag is required to remove a deer carcass from an accident site. Tags can be issued by KHP troopers, sheriff’s deputies, or KDWPT natural resource officers.

If you are involved in a non-injury crash on an interstate, U.S. highway, or any divided or multi-lane road in the state of Kansas, and if you are not transporting hazardous materials, you are required by law to move your vehicle out of the lane of traffic. This law is intended to help keep drivers and passengers safe by getting them out of the lane of traffic and away from oncoming vehicles. Make sure you and your passengers are buckled up and are using the appropriate child safety seats, which are the best ways to prevent injuries or death should you be involved in a crash.

KWF signs Estuary Habitat Restoration letter

On November 3rd, the Kansas Wildlife Federation voted to sign on to a letter promoting coastal and estuarine habitat restoration efforts along with other prominent organizations including American Rivers, American Whitewater, Ducks Unlimited, National Audubon, National Parks Conservation Association, National Wildlife Federation, Outdoor Alliance, Outdoor Industry Association, and Restore America’s Estuaries. A copy of the letter being sent to Congressional leaders and President Obama can be viewed at

Recreational Trails Fund Act

                                                     TRAILS ADVISORY BOARD TO MEET

PRATT – The Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism (KDWPT) Trails Advisory Board will hold a public meeting at 1:00 p.m. Wednesday, December 5, 2012, at the Great Plains Nature Center, 6232 E. 29th Street N, Wichita, Kansas, for the purpose of hearing and discussing projects submitted for funding under the Recreational Trails Fund Act. Signs on the premises will direct visitors to the meeting room. Grant applications are due November 30, 2012. Grant information can be found on the KDWPT website at
Persons interested in commenting on projects should attend this meeting. Grant applicants are encouraged to attend and discuss their proposals. Time for comments will be limited. Final decisions about proposals will not be made at this meeting.
For more information, contact Kathy Pritchett, Trail Grant Coordinator, Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism, 512 SE 25th Avenue, Pratt, Kansas 67124, or call 620-672-5911. If notified in advance, the department will have an interpreter available for the hearing impaired. To request an interpreter, call the TDD Service at 1-800-766-3777. An individual with a disability may request other accommodations by contacting Kathy Pritchett at 620-672-5911.

More Project FeederWatch Participants Needed to Track Winter Birds

The 26th season of Project FeederWatch begins November 10, and participants are needed more than ever. By watching their feeders from November through April and submitting their observations to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, bird watchers make it possible for scientists to keep track of changing bird populations across the continent. New or returning participants can sign up anytime at

After unusual winter weather in some parts of the country last season, many participants found themselves asking, “Where are the birds?”

“Warmer temperatures and lack of snow cover means birds can find more natural food so they may visit feeders less,” explains FeederWatch leader David Bonter. “But even if participants are not seeing many birds, that’s still valuable information we need to detect population changes on a broad scale.”

The AccuWeather long-range forecasting service is predicting some big storms in the Northeast this winter, so FeederWatchers in the region may see more birds at their feeders than they did last winter. Forecasts also call for another year of below-normal snowfall for the Midwest, above-normal snowfall and below-normal temperatures for the central and southern Rockies, and a wet winter with above-normal precipitation for the Gulf Coast and Southeast.

“We’ll have to see if those predictions pan out and how they might affect feeder-bird numbers,” Bonter says. “The one number we definitely want to see increase is the number of people taking part in FeederWatch. It’s easy to do, and the information is incredibly valuable in helping us better understand what’s going on in the environment and in the lives of the birds we enjoy so much.”

To learn more about joining Project FeederWatch and to sign up, or call the Cornell Lab toll-free at (866) 989-2473. In return for the $15 fee ($12 for Cornell Lab members), participants receive the FeederWatcher Handbook and Instructions with tips on how to successfully attract birds to your feeders, an identification poster of the most common feeder birds, and a calendar. Participants also receive Winter Bird Highlights, an annual summary of FeederWatch findings, as well as the Cornell Lab’s quarterly newsletter, Living Bird News.

Project FeederWatch is a joint research and education project of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and Bird Studies Canada.

Presidential candidates should make energy and public lands in the West a priority

By Chris Wood, Larry Schweiger and Whit Fosburgh
Guest Commentary

Denver Post

The 2012 presidential campaign has been noteworthy for both candidates’ relative silence on the importance of public lands to hunters and anglers. The candidates ignore sportsmen and women at their peril. Hunters and anglers have high voting rates, and represent an important piece of the US economy. Hunting and fishing, for example, pumped more than $75 billion into the national economy last year.

The more than 45 million Americans who hunt and fish depend on public lands for access, quality habitat for fish and wildlife, and abundant hunting and angling opportunity. In a new national poll released last month, hunters and anglers not only believe that conservation is just as important as gun rights, they also strongly believe that the protection of America’s public lands should be given priority over producing oil, gas, and coal on these lands.

In 2010, President Obama’s Department of Interior announced important oil and gas leasing and drilling reforms intended to continue multiple uses of our public lands while safeguarding fish, wildlife, clean air and water. One of the biggest champions of Interior’s promised reforms was Sportsmen for Responsible Energy Development (SFRED), a coalition of more than 500 businesses, groups and individuals led by the National Wildlife Federation, the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership and Trout Unlimited.

The SFRED coalition came together in 2007 in response to a 260 percent increase in drilling on public lands. Much of the drilling occurred in the Rocky Mountain West, where more than half the nation’s Blue-Ribbon trout fisheries and most of the prime elk and mule deer habitat are found on public lands. From the high-elevation valleys ringed by snow-capped peaks to the sagebrush steppe, these lands are where many Americans catch their first wild trout or track a trophy elk on a cold, clear fall morning.

Unfortunately, implementation of the Interior Department’s onshore oil and gas reforms has been, at best, uneven. Hunters and anglers understand the need for energy resources to fuel our pickups and heat our homes, but energy production should not be allowed to impair the productive capacity of the land for fish, wildlife, and water resources.

The unfulfilled promise of Interior’s reforms make hunters and anglers nervous. Further, proposals by candidate Mitt Romney to double the production of oil and gas from public lands, or worse, sell off the public lands or turn them over to state or local governments, are problematic. The public lands are the birthright of the nation, and of significant social and economic importance to rural and urban communities around the country. Such proposals do not reflect the enormous importance of these lands to people who fish and hunt.

Sportsmen and women understand that not every president can be as passionate an outdoorsman as Theodore Roosevelt. We do expect, however, that candidates for president understand the importance of keeping public lands in public hands while also acting on the need to balance energy development with abundant fish and wildlife populations, clean air and water, and recreational opportunities that include hunting and fishing. Both candidates would do well to listen to sportsmen and women.

Chris Wood is the president and CEO of Trout Unlimited. Larry Schweiger is president and CEO of the National Wildlife Federation. Whit Fosburgh is president and CEO of the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership.