Gary Hayzlett, a retired longtime member of the Kansas legislature, has been appointed to the Kansas Wildlife, Parks and Tourism Commission by Gov. Sam Brownback.
“I got out of the legislature after 22 years, and had 16 years on the county commission, and now I’m a (Wildlife and Parks) commissioner,” Hayzlett said in a Friday morning interview. “I’ve always had an interest in wildlife, and Wildlife and Parks…I’m thrilled, make that very thrilled about it. I think it’ll be a really neat thing.”
He will be replacing Debra Bolton, of Garden City, who recently ended eight years on the commission.
The 71-year-old from Lakin was born and raised in the community where he previously owned a grocery store and Dairy Queen. A lifelong upland bird hunter, Hayzlett said he drew a permit during Kansas’ first deer season in the mid-1960s, and shot a trophy whitetail in Wallace County. He’s since traveled to a number of states hunting assorted gamebirds, wild hogs, deer, elk and antelope. He’s also an avid prairie dog shooter and has hosted fund-raising hunts in western Kansas.
Robin Jennison, Wildlife, Parks and Tourism secretary, lauded Gov. Brownback’s choice and hopes Hayzlett’s close connections to the legislature will help the department and commission work better with those in Topeka.
“I’m not really going with an agenda, I’m really interested in going to watch the process and see what it is,” Hayzlett said of being a commissioner. “I can see there can be a need for a connection between the commission, the secretary and the legislature.”
During his legislative tenure, Hayzlett largely supported the agency but was sometimes at odds with Wildlife and Parks, and sportsmen, on the topics of deer populations and landowner’s rights.
His first meeting will be in Yates Center, on Thursday.