Commission set to discuss possible hunting and fishing fee increases

The Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism commission is expected to set this year’s waterfowl seasons and limits Thursday. Unlike the past four years, fireworks aren’t expected.

“From what we saw at the June (commission) meeting, I’d say our recommendations are looking favorable to the commission,” said Mike Miller, Wildlife and Parks information chief. Meetings the past four Augusts saw spirited debate as the commission, biologists and the public tried to decide the season dates for Kansas’ southeast duck zone. Three of the four years, the commission eventually went against staff recommendations and set the season later than biologists recommended. At a June meeting, nobody on the commission, or from the public, objected to season dates recommended by Tom Bidrowski, Wildlife and Parks waterfowl biologist.

Recommended season dates are similar to what was approved last year. Bidrowski said the only real changes would be adding two weeks for white-fronted goose season. One would probably be placed in December and the other in January. The department also wants to raise the limit on canvasback ducks from one to two per day.

Also scheduled at the meeting:

▪ At the evening session, the commission will discuss possible changes to the duck zone boundaries, especially the southeast zone. The commission will vote on any possible boundary changes at an October meeting in Burlington. If approved by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the changes would start for the 2016 seasons, and couldn’t be changed for another five years.

▪ During the afternoon session, discussion will be held about possible hunting and fishing fee increases, beginning in 2016.

In a past interview Miller said some fees haven’t increased since the 1980s. Non-resident deer hunters would take the biggest hit, with their deer permits increasing $100. Miller said the agency is seeking fee increases to help keep some popular services funded, like the Walk In Hunting Area program. The department projects their recommended increases bring in about an additional $6 million annually. No changes in age regulations, like for youth or seniors, are being requested.

▪ Turkey, fishing and state park regulations should be discussed during the afternoon. Miller said no big changes are are recommended.

The meeting will be at the Kansas Wetlands Education Center, 592 NE Highway 156, Great Bend. The afternoon session is expected to run from 1-5 p.m., and the evening session begins at 6:30. Public comment will be welcome on any topic related to the department. The meeting should be shown live on ksoutdoors.com. For information check that site, or call 620-672-5911.