Reducing deer permits to be discussed at commission meeting

Hunters may have fewer opportunities to kill deer during the 2015-16 seasons. Reducing the number of season days and permits for shooting antlerless whitetails, and a reduction in out-of-state permits in some units, will be discussed at the Jan. 8 Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism commission meeting in Bonner Springs.

Lloyd Fox, Wildlife and Parks big-game program coordinator, said reductions are receiving consideration because of low deer numbers found in some areas on fall surveys, and because of complaints from hunters during the recent firearms deer season.

Data from the 2013-14 seasons led the agency to reduce the season dates and permit numbers for antlerlesss whitetails across much of Kansas for recent seasons. Fox blamed low populations on several years of drought and disease in much of Kansas.

“I’m afraid we may have to (prepare) for even further reductions,” Fox said. “Some areas have me worried.” He is awaiting the results of surveys for this year’s seasons.

Mike Miller, Wildlife and Parks information chief, said the Bonner Springs meeting will be the second of three when big-game regulations will be on the agenda. The final meeting, when the seasons and permit numbers are set, will be in March in Topeka.

Also at the Jan. 8 meeting:

▪  Commissioners will be asked to approve June 6-7 as Free Fishing Days in Kansas, an annual weekend when fishing license aren’t required to encourage more people to try the sport.

▪  Commissioners will also get a requested report on the number of problems game wardens encounter with coyote hunters during the firearms deer seasons. In 2013 the commission was asked to close coyote hunting during the 12 day season, but resisted because of public opinion. They then asked the law enforcement division to provide more details after the completion of more firearms deer seasons.

▪  The annual drawing will be held for seven commissioners big-game permits. Such permits, which can include no more than one elk and one antelope permit amid the seven, are given via drawing to conservation or shooting groups, which sell them. The proceeds are split between the winning group and department-approved conservation projects. Commissioners permits have sold for as high as $23,000.

Public comment is invited. Sessions begin at 1 and 6:30 p.m. at the Bonner Springs Parks and Recreation building, Sunflower Room, 200 E. Third. The meeting can be viewed online at ksoutdoors.com.

For more information, go to ksoutdoors.com or call 620-672-5911.