TOPEKA — Commissioners for the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism heard discussion Thursday about requiring steel shot to be used on fields managed for dove hunting on public lands.
Unlike lead, steel-shot pellets are not toxic if ingested by birds.
Brad Simpson, Wildlife and Parks public lands chief, made the request because of the high amount of firing done on the fields that are planted to sunflowers or wheat to attract doves.
Simpson said the department’s 114 managed dove fields last year hosted about 3,500 hunters who fired about 67,000 shots the first three days of the season.
“Some of our areas are near marshes and others near cropfields where other birds feed,” Simpson said. “It only takes one or two lead-shot pellets for a bird to get lead poisoning.
Currently, steel shot is required for all kinds of waterfowl hunting, and all kinds of shotgunning on state and federal areas managed specifically for waterfowl. Commissioners are expected to vote on the topic at an April 25 meeting at the Great Plains Nature Center.
Also at the meeting:
• The commission voted to allow widespread legalization of crossbows during archery deer seasons, and allow the use of any centerfire rifle or handgun for deer hunting.
• Linda Lanterman, Wildlife and Parks state park director, presented plans to create short-term storage areas at Glen Elder, Kanopolis, Meade, Scott and Webster state parks, at the rate of $50 per month. Lanterman said they’ve had many storage requests from frequent campers who don’t want to tow their campers back and forth from their homes.
• Commissioners approved the creation of a combination permit for non-resident deer hunters. All non-resident permits drawn will come with a tag for any whitetail deer and another that can only be used for an antlerless whitetail. The price of $315 is a reduced rate since non-residents used to pay $300 for the any whitetail permit and $50 for an antlerless whitetail permit.
Lloyd Fox, Wildlife and Parks big-game program coordinator, said many non-residents had complained about the steep price for antlerless deer permits. He’s hoping the new combination permit makes it easier for them to shoot whitetail does.
“We have concerns that the antlerless harvest is not adequate on areas where non-residents are leasing land,” Fox said.
• Fox also told the commission and public that hunters killed about 96,000 deer during the 2012-13 seasons. That was down about 4 percent from the previous season. Many are surprised the statewide kill wasn’t lower, as drought killed many deer in several ways.
Fox said the agency would offer the same number of permits as last year, following several years of increasing numbers.
• Tom Bidrowski told commissioners he expects liberal waterfowl seasons and limits again this fall, because current heavy snow cover in parts of Canada and the Dakotas should make good nesting habitat.
• Osage County landowner Tim Nedeau asked to be awarded the antlers of a 14-point buck poached on his property in 2011. Killed legally, the buck’s score of about 199 typical inches would have made it a state record. State law says wildlife belongs to the state. Antlers confiscated during legal cases remain the property of Wildlife and Parks.
Last summer an Osage County judge ordered David Kent, of Topeka, to pay Nedeau $8,000. Nedeau told the judge his land is posted that hunting costs $4,000 per day. Nedeau said he has received one payment from Kent.