SALINA – Kansas senior citizens could be required to purchase hunting and fishing licenses after this year.
For decades residents 65 and over have been exempt from the annual permits that currently sell for about $18, each.
At a Thursday meeting of the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism Commission, Chris Tymeson, the department's attorney, said the agency will soon ask the legislature to remove the exemption.
Tymeson said the request is being made to insure continued funding for the agency as the average age of sportsmen continues to increase.
Those currently exempt would not be grandfathered in and would be required to pay no matter their age. Exemptions and reduced rates for landowners would continue.
As well as increased direct funding, the additional number of hunting and fishing licenses sold would qualify the department for more federal funding from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
Currently federal excise taxes are charged at the sale of most hunting, shooting and fishing equipment. Those funds are distributed to states based on their number of hunting and fishing licenses.
The federal funds are often given on a matching basis of about 3 to 1. They currently pay for most of Kansas' 1 million-plus acre Walk-In Hunting area program.
Tymeson had no figures about the number of hunters and anglers currently exempt from state licenses.
Mike Miller, Wildlife and Parks information chief, said the number is tough to track but added that since 2006 the number of Kansans 65 years old and older purchasing deer permits has increased 25 percent.
The department will also request Kansans 65 and older no longer get reduced rates or exemptions for state park fees, too.
Tymeson said the agency will seek legislative permission to create an annual vehicle "Kansas Park Passport" to be sold to residents when they annually renew their vehicle permits.
The passes would be optional and valid until the vehicle's permit is renewed the following year.
In the past, Robin Jennison, department secretary, said if 10-percent of Kansans purchased the passes it could double park income.
With ideal legislative support, Tymeson said the agency would like to see the state park changes begin as early as July 1. The removal of exemptions for hunting and fishing licenses would begin in 2013.
He admitted things could change.
"What you start with and what you end with are often two different things," Tymeson said.