TOPEKA — Kansas deer hunters will have fewer opportunities to shoot antlerless whitetail deer in upcoming seasons.
The Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism commission approved reductions in permits for antlerless whitetails and fewer days for the state’s January season for antlerless whitetails in some parts of Kansas.
Lloyd Fox, Wildlife and Parks big-game program coordinator, said the reductions are in response to drought-related declines in deer populations. Per department requests, commissioners approved the following:
• There will be no January season or special antlerless deer permits in Unit 18. Only two whitetail antlerless permits will be allowed in Units 6, 9, 10, 14, and 17. Hunters can have up to five such permits in all other units.
• Units 6, 9, 10, and 17 will have a whitetail antlerless season of Jan. 1-4. Units 1-5, 7-8 and 11-16 will have a Jan. 1-11 season. Units 15 and 19 will have a antlerless season of Jan. 1-18.
• Commissioners approved a deer season framework similar to last year, including a Sept. 6-14 season for youth and disabled hunters, a Sept. 15-28 muzzleloader season and a Dec. 3-14 firearms season. Archery season will be open Sept. 15-Dec. 31.
• Fox also said the department will issue about as many non-resident deer permits for the coming seasons as last year. He said some eastern Kansas units would see a slight decrease, while most western Kansas units would see modest increases.
“That’s where landowners have said they’re in favor of more non-resident permits,” Fox said. “It’s also the part of the state where the populations are holding strong or increasing.”
• Fox also said last year’s legislative mandate that all non-residents be sold an antlerless whitetail permit along with their permit for a buck raised the non-resident antlerless whitetail kill from about 4,600 in 2012 to about 8,770 last season.
• Fox said a recent survey showed about 4 percent of deer hunters utilized rifles smaller than a .243 last season, the first when calibers like .223 and .22-250 were legalized for deer.
• A similar survey showed about 3,200 deer were killed by hunters using crossbows last season, compared to about 490 when regulations were more stringent in 2011.
• Commissioners and biologists discussed a possible regulation change to allow the use of tracking dogs to recover dead or wounded deer. The topic will get more discussion at future meetings.
Robin Jennison, department secretary, spoke with concern about a recent legislative attempt to repeal the Kansas endangered species act. It protects about 60 species of assorted Kansas wildlife and has been in place for about 40 years.
He said the concept had been added to House Bill 2118, a bill which removed the red-bellied and smooth earth snakes from the state’s threatened and endangered species lists. Fear of damaging populations of both species has hindered land use in the Kansas City area.
Sen. Larry Powell, R-Garden City, had added the amendment for total revocation shortly before the bill passed from committee he chairs. The bill has already passed the Kansas house and now awaits action in the full Senate.
Jennison already had concerns when the bill just dealt with two species being managed by legislative mandates. Currently, he said, four states do not have endangered species acts.
“Science needs to have some basis in these decisions,” said Jennison, who also warned of possible federal interventions should the state’s endangered species act be revoked.
Jennison said he would “be shocked” if the existing bill passes the Senate, but added the bill would certainly have some strong support.
The commission will next meet April 17 at the Great Plains Nature Center.