Robin Jennison is hitting the road, hoping to visit with western Kansas residents on the current state and future of the Kansas pheasant population. He’ll be taking a sizable number of Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism biologists, and legislators on the July 28-30 bus tour.
“I’ve probably gotten 50 to 60 e-mails from different people concerned about what the drought has done to the pheasant population,” said Jennison, Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism secretary. “It’s an emotional issue and they want to know what we’re going about it.”
The bus tour leaves Hays at 12:30 p.m. July 28. Public meetings will be held that evening at the Comfort Inn Convention Center in Colby and at the Pauline Joyce Fine Arts Auditorium in Garden City on July 29. During the days, the bus and others along on the tour will be stopping to look at habitat projects across western Kansas that have been helping pheasant populations.
“(The public) needs to hear from us and we need to hear from them,” Jennison said. “We’re going to focus on pheasants and we’re going to limit the talk to pheasants, especially at the evening meetings. It’s a chance for us to all get on the same page, to explain some things.”
Jennison said the evening meetings will probably include discussion and explanations of why shortening the season and bag limits wouldn’t do much to boost the recovery time for the Kansas pheasant population. He’s also hoping to discuss raising and releasing pheasants as a way to bolster populations. It’s a concept long panned by biologists, but not by Jennison.
“We all know that habitat is always the most important thing, and I know (propagation) would not be a wise investment for the department,” he said. “But people are doing it. I just talked to one guy who turned out 150 hens this spring. I would like to find a way to help people like that. I’d like for us to be able to say to them, ‘This is the best way to do it.’ ”
Jennison said some meetings dealing with deer-related issues drew crowds in western Kansas over the past few years. If all goes well on the pheasant tour, more may be planned.
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“Hopefully that will bring a different demographic and different point of view to the commission,” Rider said of his age. “This is very important to me. Obviously since I’m in the education business, the future is a passion of mine.”
Rider, registered to vote as an independent, said he applied for the position and has attended past meetings and watched them online.
Married with two small children, Rider was born and raised in southeast Kansas, largely on a farm in his family since 1867. He’s spent a lot of time in the Mined Lands Wildlife Area.
“We take the kids and we walk through the woods, take the dogs with us and have a picnic,” he said. “My kids love to go fishing.”
Rider said he’s an avid hunter for most kinds of game, but added, “… If I can ever find some ducks, I’m going duck hunting. Waterfowl hunting is a passion of mine.”
His first commission meeting will be Aug. 21 near Great Bend. Between now and then Rider said he’ll be attending a number of outdoors-related gatherings.
“I’m trying to get people’s input, introduce myself and listen to what they have to say,” he said. “I want people to know I am interested in talking with a lot of different people from different regions. I want to hear from them.”
Rider can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.