The following outdoors-related bills have recently received attention in the Kansas legislature. Following is their current progress, according to Chris Tymeson, Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism attorney.
• House Bill 2538 would requite any illegally-killed game animals or their parts, such as antlers, to be offered to the owner of the land where it was poached. Supporters say its a way to repay landowners who may have lost money from selling a hunt for that animal or hoped to shoot it themselves.
Opponents say it changes a centuries-old law that states wildlife belongs to the public, and is managed by the state. If passed, the regulation could also cause friction between assorted landowners where a poached trophy buck was known to have spent time. It would also make it possible for someone to poach a deer, get the antlers confiscated and then get them back from the landowner after all legal proceedings were completed.
Currently, the courts usually award illegally-taken antlers back to the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism to be used for educational purposes or auctioned, with the money going for law enforcement projects.
The bill passed the house, and is awaiting action in the senate.
• Senate Bills 366 and 370 would authorize Wildlife and Parks to purchase two tracks of land to be used for public hunting areas. One tract would be paid for with non-state money. The other could be purchased with 25-percent state license fee funds, and the rest from federal excise taxes from hunting and shooting gear. The bills have had a senate committee hearing, but have seen no further action. Proponents think Kansas, which is about 97-percent privately owned, needs more public areas. Some legislators think public lands deny private landowners a chance at income from agriculture.
• Senate Bill 357 would allow those without hunter education training to purchase up to three annual apprentice licenses so they could go hunting with direct, licensed supervision. The current law allows one calendar year. Proponents think the proposed change could allow beginners more time to decide if they like hunting. Also, current seasons often include parts of two calendar years. The bill has seen little opposition.
• House Bill 2626 would have allowed hunters to use leashed tracking dogs to recover dead or wounded deer in Kansas. It was tabled at the house committee level since Wildlife and Parks is already looking into the issue, and doesnt need legislative action to create such a regulation.
• House Bill 2694 would have required all hunters to have written permission for hunting on all private lands in Kansas. Currently, permission is required to access all private lands, and written permission where stated by signage. The bill didnt move past an initial committee hearing because Wildlife and Parks, and many opponents said such action should be up to individual landowners.
Pheasants Forever convention this week The Kansas Pheasants Forever State Habitat Convention is open to the public Friday and Saturday at the Wichita Marriott.
Several seminars, most by professional biologists, dealing with a variety of ways to improve upland bird habitat, hunter recruitment, public land hunting opportunities and the recent Farm Bill will be presented Saturday at the Great Plains Nature Center. A banquet will follow Saturday evening at the Marriott.
The price for each of the three events range from $20 to $30 or a $65 all-inclusive pass is also available. For information, call Chris Blackledge at 620-727-2121 or go to www.kansaspfqf.org.