Several bills in the Kansas Legislature could have an impact on the Kansas outdoors and sportsmen. Chris Tymeson, Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism attorney, said these are some of the most important bills:
• Senate Bill 226 would allow Kansas to over-rule when the federal government puts non-migratory species, like lesser prairie chickens, on their national threatened or endangered species lists. The bill could lead to long, expensive legal battles with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. It also could allow the legislature to trump years of scientific research.
• S. B. 366 and 370 would grant permission to Wildlife and Parks to purchase two tracts of land for public areas. One, 397 acres in Cherokee County, would be paid for with money from mediation from strip mining companies that damaged the environment. The other, 484 acres near Tuttle Creek Reservoir, would be paid for with 75-percent money from federal excise taxes and the remainder from department hunting fee funds.
• House Bill 2538 wold give landowners the right of first refusal on the antlers from deer illegally killed on their property. Law enforcement officials fear the bill would change the ownership of wildlife from the citizens of Kansas to private landowners. In turn, that could mean landowners would be liable for damages deer on their property may cause to others, like when involved in nearby deer/vehicle accidents. It also could encourage landowners to poach deer on their lands, and collect them later and could pit landowner against landowner over who has the legal right to a poached deer.
• S. B. 281would remove the red-bellied and rough earth snakes from the Kansas threatened or endangered species listings. Such protection has hampered some development in northeast Kansas. Some fear legislative de-listing could shift wildlife management away from biological facts to legislative desires.
• H.B. 357 would increase the years a beginning hunter could purchase an apprentice hunting license from one to three years. Currently, such permits allow the license holder to hunt without hunter education certification if under the supervision of a properly licensed hunter. It is hoped expanding the apprentice license would get more people to try hunting multiple years, or at least enjoy an entire season which may stretch into the new year.
• H.B. 2627 would allow people with concealed carry permits to hunt without having passed hunter education training. Hunter education experts stress that concealed carry training does not include some of the most important lessons of hunter education classes.