Regarding a column by Michael Pearce (“Poached property problems,” March 16 Outdoors): I would like to respond to what I feel are scare tactics being pushed by the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism.
Pearce stated that House Bill 2538 could be the first step in privatizing the wildlife in Kansas. He suggested that landowners could set their own seasons and legal means of hunting, and that landowners could issue special permits for big game. This was totally false and irresponsible journalism.
Only Wildlife and Parks can issue hunting licenses, game tags, set bag limits and the rules for legal hunting within Kansas. As landowners, we have to adhere to the rules the department sets. HB 2538 would not change these established rules. It would, however, put an end to the overzealous use or misuse of the authority of some wildlife officials.
The bill would not overwork Wildlife and Parks, but it would require the officers to become more landowner-friendly by having them meet the public and form a rapport with them. We all want to help lessen the illegal hunting activities in our areas.
As for what to do if the landowner cannot be found: What do they do with the poached animals now? I don’t know anyone who would be against the department giving the meat to a food bank or a needy family. It does this now. It could, however, keep the antlers from deer and ask landowners if they want them when the department does contact them. Wildlife and Parks would have to contact the landowner in order to see if hunters/poachers had permission to hunt. If they did not have permission, more criminal charges would be added against the poachers.
Wildlife and Parks has told me that if I had hit the deer with a vehicle, I could have kept it. If someone finds a record-setting deer dead on his land, that landowner gets to keep it. And, of course, if a legal hunter kills the deer, he gets to keep it. However, if someone you do not know illegally encroaches on your land and kills an animal and admits to the crime in court, Wildlife and Parks keeps it. Well, at least it keeps the big antlered deer.
The bill simply states that Wildlife and Parks has to offer any illegally hunted wildlife to the landowner, as long as the person was not involved in the criminal hunting. The landowner can always refuse the game.