Three certainties occurred Thursday in Wichita. The sun rose in the east, set in the west and discussion about setting waterfowl seasons was long and sometimes contentious at the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism commission meeting at the Great Plains Nature Center.
Commissioners for two years have rejected department recommendations for several season dates. Tom Bidrowski, Wildlife and Parks waterfowl biologist, presented commissioners Thursday with a questionnaire soon to be mailed to about 7,400 Kansas waterfowl hunters. Bidrowski expects about 3,200 to respond, which Bidrowski said will be an accurate reading on what hunters desire. Several commissioners have doubts.
“My biggest concern about the survey is the methodology,” said commissioner Roger Marshall, of Great Bend. “The people who return the survey are going to be the most avid hunters, they will be the people the most motivated to fill them out.” He said he didn’t think a mailed survey would accurately represent those who hunt a few times per year.
He also said bold type on some answers to the multiple choice survey could bring a bias. He also noted irregularities in the number of answers provided some question. Some had three options while others had six.
Commissioner Randy Doll, of Leon, also saw inconsistencies that could lead to bias and said the only way to get an unbiased response was to question sportsmen by telephone or face-to-face. He acknowledged that wouldn’t be within the department’s budget.
“Some small tweaking could be made to make the data more accurate,” Doll said.
Commissioners were asked to submit ideas for possible questionaire improvement to the department within a few days. Chris Tymeson, Wildlife and Parks attorney, was asked if the department was required to follow suggestions, and said it wasn’t.
“If you choose not to take the advice from a commissioner or the commission,” said commissioner Don Budd, who has often been critical of the department, “you’re going to have to be very understanding that the information that you provide me, as a commissioner, I’m going to give the same credibility.”
Waterfowl seasons and regulations will again be discussed at June 19 meeting in Pittsburg, and go to vote at an Aug. 21 meeting near Great Bend.
Also at the meeting:
• Bidrowski said information from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service suggests no major changes for season lengths or bag limits are expected for waterfowl this year.
• The department is moving forward with a possible regulation that would allow the use of leashed dogs for trailing and locating wounded or dead big game. The current suggestion would not allow the use of dogs after the end of legal shooting hours. Commissioner Gerald Lauber objected, saying many deer might spoil or be eaten by coyotes overnight. He suggested unarmed dog searches be allowed in the dark. The topic will see discussion in June and go to a vote in August.
• Kevin Jones, Wildlife and Parks law enforcement chief, said in cases of someone finding a dead deer, a responding game warden must prove the animal was killed illegally or a salvage tag granting possession of the dead deer must be given to the person who found the deer. Many sportsmen have complained about some inconsistencies, especially when the deer is a trophy buck.