August 16, 2014

Biologists recommend later duck, goose seasons

Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism commissioners will be asked to approve duck and goose seasons later than in past years.

Biologists will ask at Thursday’s Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism meeting that many of the 2014-15 Kansas duck and goose seasons run a bit later than suggested in the past.

Tom Bidrowski, a department waterfowl biologist, said the department’s recommendations are based on migration trends, hunter participation in recent seasons, top duck and goose harvest dates and the results of a recent survey sent out to waterfowl hunters. Opening dates of the late plains late zone, southeast zone duck seasons, and goose seasons could open a week later, and have more January and February days than previous recommendations.

The following dates will be recommended:

Southeast duck zone, Nov. 8-Jan. 4 and Jan. 10-25.

Low plains late zone, Nov. 1-Jan. 4 and Jan. 17-25.

Low plains early zone, Oct. 11-Dec. 7 and Dec. 20-Jan. 4.

Canada and light goose, Nov. 1-9 and Nov. 12-Feb. 15.

White-fronted geese, Nov. 1-Dec. 14 and Jan. 17-Feb. 15.

Bidrowski said the way weekends fell on the calendar this year played a role in pushing some seasons to their latest starting dates in decades. Traditionally, the low plains late zone opened the last Saturday of October. He felt Oct. 25 could be too early.

“We also did it to appease some of the interests in the later-season dates,” Bidrowski said. “and it works very well with overlapping our dates for goose seasons, too.”

The last three years, the August commission meetings have been the most continuous of the year because of debate over setting waterfowl seasons, particularly for the southeast duck zone. The past two years Commissioner Don Budd, of Kansas City, has countered with seasons that ran mostly from mid-November through the last weekend in January, and received commission approval.

At the upcoming meeting at the Kansas Wetlands Education Center near Great Bend, Bidrowski will explain the results from a waterfowl survey sent to about 7,100 Kansas duck and goose hunters earlier this year. While statistically valid, he said the 2,100 responses means the survey had a less than 30-percent response rate.

“We believe we’re seeing some fatigue in our surveys,” he said. “I think some people are just getting tired with the battle of the seasons we seem to have every year.”

Also at the meeting, commissioners will vote on a new regulation that would allow hunters to use a dog on a hand-held leash to help find wounded or dead big game.

Mike Miller, Wildlife and Parks information chief, said the topic had been discussed at meetings for several years, is legal in a growing number of states, but got some resistance when it was officially put into the Kansas regulatory process in the spring.

“Whenever you talk about dogs and deer, some people worry about someone using this as a loophole to somehow run deer with dogs,” Miller said. “There were also some issues, early, about people using the law to go after deer after legal shooting hours with guns or bows.” He explained that all regulations pertaining to legal shooting hours and legal weapons during a particular season still apply.

After the end of legal shooting hours, no weapon can be carried while searching for the deer. During legal shooting hours, only the weapons that are legal per a particular permit and season may by carried. If approved as requested, the regulation would also require every person aiding in the tracking with a dog to have a valid hunting permit, unless exempt by law.

Miller said the commission, biologists and the public are also expected to discuss a five-year review of the Kansas Threatened and Endangered Species list. Of interest will be the department’s desire to remove the redbelly snake from the threatened list, though the Kansas Threatened and Endangered Species Task Committee recently ruled they thought the snake should maintain its threatened listing.

The commission is also expected to hear about a new check-in system for those who use some public lands where they’ve been required to fill out information and survey cards as they enter and leave the area. A new system would allow them to register online or by telephone.

Thursday’s meeting is has sessions beginning at 1 and 6:30 p.m., with public comment at both sessions and while topics are being discussed. For more information, or to watch the meeting online, go to www.ksoutdoors.com.

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