Daily Archives: March 9, 2016

Donations needed for disabled veterans’ hunting and fishing licenses


Our disabled veterans made enormous sacrifices ensuring our freedom and way of life. As a small token of our appreciation, the Kansas Legislature annually appropriates funding to provide them free hunting and fishing licenses. Any Kansas resident who is a military veteran with at least 30 percent disability qualifies, and they must apply each year for the licenses. However, as interest in the program has grown, the number of applications has increased annually and appropriated funds have been exhausted the last two years. Funding appropriated for Fiscal Year 2016 ran out in February.


To supplement funding for the veterans’ licenses, The Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism (KDWPT) established a donation fund, allowing anyone purchasing a hunting or fishing license online to check a box and donate. And the department has a WildTrust account that accepts donations for these licenses, as well. Unfortunately, both of those sources have been spent, and there are still more than 200 applications waiting to be filled.


But you can help by checking the box when you buy a license online at or calling 620-672-5911 and asking for the WildTrust coordinator to learn more. Donations, designated for the Disabled Veterans License Account can be sent to KDWPT, c/o WildTrust, 512 SE 25th Ave., Pratt, KS 67124. Learn more about WildTrust at  

Westar Energy hosts young turkey hunters


Westar Energy invites any eligible youth to hunt turkeys this spring, April 1-12, at Jeffrey Energy Center, 7 miles north of St. Marys. The event is open to 12- to 17-year-olds who have not harvested a turkey. The project is supported by Westar Energy Green Team volunteers, who are veteran hunters and available to assist the young hunters and their mentors.


Youth must be accompanied by an adult mentor, preferably one who does not have turkey hunting experience. Hunters, mentors and guides will hunt from enclosed blinds around small crop fields scattered throughout Westar property, and turkeys are abundant.


Hunters should bring a shotgun, but no special clothing, calls or decoys are needed. Those 15 and younger will need to purchase a Youth Spring Turkey permit. Hunters 16 and 17 years old must have a hunting license, and Hunter Education certificate or if they don’t have Hunter Education, an apprentice hunting license, in addition to a Unit 3 Spring Turkey Permit.


Hunts will take place primarily in the mornings and on weekends, but weekday and afternoon hunts are possible, depending on volunteer guide availability. Registration will be open through Friday, March 18, or until all slots are filled. Applications will be accepted on a first-come, first-served basis with preference given to inexperienced hunters. Please contact Barb Cornelius at 785-575-8125 to apply or for more information.


The Westar Energy Green Team is a group of employees and retiree volunteers who take on environmental projects across Kansas. The group completes between 50 and 70 projects per year on weekends and evenings. The Green Team also collaborates with conservation groups, agencies and schools in enhancing and fostering an understanding of the Kansas environment.

Council Grove Area wants youth turkey hunters


Turkeys know it and turkey hunters feel it: spring is on the way. That means the Kansas spring turkey season opens soon and it’s time for the 16th Annual Council Grove Youth Turkey Hunt. The Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism (KDWPT), in cooperation with area chapters of the National Wild Turkey Federation, Quail and Upland Wildlife Federation, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, will host the Council Grove 16th Annual Spring Turkey Hunt on Saturday, April 2.


As part of KDWPT’s Pass It On program, this event is designed to provide beginning hunters with a safe and high quality spring turkey hunting experience. The event is open to youngsters age 11-16, who should be accompanied by a parent or mentor. Registration is required by March 21 by calling Brent Konen, Council Grove Wildlife Area manager, (620) 767-5900.


Young hunters will have the opportunity to become involved in not only the hunt but also its preparation. The evening before the morning hunt will be devoted to patterning shotguns and scouting hunting areas. On the morning of their hunt, hunters and their mentors will be guided to area locations on public and private land where encounters with these magnificent game birds are likely. Volunteers will arrange transportation to hunting sites and will be available to assist in the hunts. Breakfast and lunch will be provided, and there will also be door prizes and a turkey hunting presentation. Hunters will experience a fantastic spring morning in the Flint Hills and share camaraderie with other participants and volunteers. If past hunts are any indicator, participants will have exciting stories of turkey encounters to tell.


Lodging is available in nearby Council Grove and camping is available at Council Grove Lake. Participants are encouraged to explore historic Council Grove, scenic Morris County and travel the Flint Hills National Scenic Byway while visiting the area.

Aerial surveys monitor Lesser Prairie-chicken population trends


According to the Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (WAWFA), aerial surveys for lesser prairie chickens will begin March 17. The surveys, which will continue through mid-May, will be conducted by helicopter throughout the five-state lesser prairie chicken range. The surveys are conducted annually by WAFWA to ascertain population trends and how the bird is responding to management strategies identified in theLesser Prairie Chicken Range-wide Conservation Plan.


The range-wide plan is a collaborative effort of WAFWA and the state wildlife agencies of Texas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Kansas and Colorado. It was developed to ensure conservation of the lesser prairie chicken with voluntary cooperation from landowners and industry. This plan allows agriculture producers and industry to continue operations while reducing impacts to the species and its grassland habitat.


“Working with the wildlife agencies of each of these five states, we’ve established a consistent methodology to conduct these aerial surveys,” explained Bill Van Pelt, WAFWA’s grassland coordinator. “This allows us to get the most accurate information possible so we can see how various management strategies for the bird are working on the ground.”



In previous years, some of the fly paths prompted calls, which is why WAFWA is getting the word out about the start of aerial survey work.


Last year’s aerial surveys brought good news: an abundance of spring rainfall in 2015, along with ongoing efforts associated with the range-wide plan and other conservation initiatives, helped increase the lesser prairie chicken population by approximately 25 percent from 2014 to 2015. Results from this year’s surveys will be available on July 1.


Despite last year’s encouraging news, the population is still low compared to historical numbers, and concern for the lesser prairie chicken and its habitat still exist. WAFWA is committed to continued successful implementation of the range-wide plan and the long-term recovery of this iconic grassland bird.


For more information about the lesser prairie chicken and the conservation work being done to support it, see the Lesser Prairie Chicken Range-wide Plan at