Kansas Wildlife, Parks and Tourism Commission approves teal seasons

At the evening Public Hearing portion of its June 18 meeting in Hays, the Kansas Wildlife, Parks and Tourism Commission approved the early teal season and Fort Riley deer season dates for 2015.

Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism staff recommended early teal season dates, using frameworks provided by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS). Most blue-winged teal migrate through Kansas in August and September before regular waterfowl seasons are open, so the USFWS allows states to establish a September season. The trigger for allowing the season and its length is the May Breeding Population Index (BPI), which is the number of blue-winged teal surveyed on the Prairie Pothole Region in May. If the BPI is 3.3 million bluewings, the USFWS allows a 9-day season. If the BPI exceeds 4.7 million, a 16-day season is allowed. Based on last year’s BPI of 8.5 million blue-winged teal and spring habitat conditions on the Prairie Pothole Region, staff expect the frameworks to allow a 16-day season.

Blue-winged Teal flock

The Commission approved the staff recommendation of an Early Teal Season in the Low Plains Zones taking place Sept. 12-27, 2015. Because the Migratory Bird Treaty Act limits the number of days for hunting of any one species to 107, the teal season in the High Plains Zone cannot be 16 days long. USFWS frameworks allow 97 days for the regular duck season, and two days for a youth season. That leaves only 8 days for an early teal season. To remain within the frameworks, staff recommended a 9-day Early Teal Season for the High Plains Zone taking place Sept. 19-27, 2015. (The regular High Plains Zone duck season will include 96 days to stay within the 107 maximum number of days.)

In other Public Hearing business, the Commission heard and approved recommendations for the deer seasons on the Fort Riley Military Reservation. To accommodate the changing training mission, Fort Riley personnel have requested additional archery hunting days and additional days for youth and persons with disabilities. The 12-day firearm deer season on the fort will be split into three segments.

The Commission approved the following dates for deer hunting on Fort Riley. In addition to the regular archery season, persons with required authorization can hunt with archery equipment Sep. 1-13, 2015 and Jan. 11-31, 2016. In addition to the regular season for youth and hunters with disabilities, those designated persons may hunt Oct. 9-12, 2015 on Fort Riley. There will be no Pre-rut Whitetail Antlerless-only Season on the Fort. The deer firearm season on Fort Riley will be Nov. 27-29, Dec. 19-23, and Dec. 26-29, 2015.

The next Kansas Wildlife, Parks and Tourism Commission public meeting will be conducted Thursday, August 20, at the Kansas Wetlands Education Center, 592 NE K-156 Highway, Great Bend. The afternoon session will begin at 1 p.m. and recess at 5p.m. The evening Public Hearing session will begin at 6:30 p.m.