More restrictive regulations for hunting coyotes is scheduled for a vote at Thursday’s Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism commission meeting in Garden City.
Robin Jennison, Wildlife and Parks secretary, said game wardens have been encountering growing numbers of people hunting from vehicles, and using radios for communication, during the firearms deer season. It’s a legal method for hunting coyotes, but illegal for hunting deer.
“There are folks out there using the excuse that they’re hunting coyotes, when they get caught, and they’re really doing a variety of things like herding deer, shooting from within a vehicle and talking with other (vehicles) with radios,” Jennison said. “Our game wardens came to us and asked if we could close hunting coyotes from a vehicle, and with the use of radios, during the firearms deer season.”
Since they are not classified as game animals, regulations are far more lax for shooting coyotes than deer, wild turkeys or upland birds. For decades, farmers and ranchers have asked to keep the laws liberal to help keep the coyote population down, reducing the loss of livestock to Kansas’ largest wild canine.
Some people hunting coyotes from vehicles use dogs to chase the coyotes. Others chase them with their vehicles or shoot from within their vehicle when a coyote is found.
Jennison said several coyote hunters spoke when the topic was discussed at an April commission meeting in Wichita. “Predominantly those who were there to express some concern were the houndsmen, and they are not the problem according to them,” Jennison said. “I think some of them hit a tone with the commissioners.”
Commissioners will have three options. One is following KDWPT’s recommendation of closing all coyote hunting with the use of vehicles and radios throughout the 12-day firearms deer season. Jennison added that other kinds of coyote hunting, such as calling or shooting from deer stands, would remain legal year-round.
Another option would be to close such coyote hunting the first five days of the season, when most of the deer hunting occurs. The third option is to allow the laws to remain as they are.
Also at the meeting, commissioners will again discuss the upcoming late migratory bird seasons, including the season dates for the southeast Kansas duck hunting zone.
Last year’s debate between commissioners was some of the most contentious in many years.
Commissioner Don Budd, of Kansas City, lobbied for and eventually got a late season for when the hunting is often best in extreme southeast Kansas. Commissioner Gerald Lauber, and Wildlife and Parks staff, wanted an earlier opener for hunters in the northern part of the zone.
Last year’s Wildlife and Parks’ request to open the season on Nov. 3 was rejected, and Budd’s request to open the season Nov. 15 so the season could run through the last weekend of January was approved. Budd and commissioner Robert Wilson, of Pittsburg, said they wanted as many of the federally-mandated 74 days as possible in December and January.
This year the department is probably asking for a Nov. 2 opening, but is proposing to close the season after a few weeks and reopen it for the last few weeks of January. The topic will see a vote at an Aug. 1 commission meeting in Yates Center.
Thursday’s meeting in Garden City, with 1:30 and 7 p.m. sessions, is at the Finnup Center for Conservation Education, 312 East Finnup Drive. It’s available online at www.kdwpt.state.ks.us.