Bill to open Kansas deer hunt proposed

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Dec 24, 2002
Moscow on the Colorado, TX
Kansas City Star

March 11, 2003, Tuesday METROPOLITAN EDITION


LENGTH: 741 words

HEADLINE: Bill to open Kansas deer hunt proposed;
Non-residents could get archery permits

BYLINE: BRENT FRAZEE; The Kansas City Star

Spencer Tomb doesn't want to see Kansas become another Texas when
it comes to deer hunting.

Tomb grew up in the Lone Star State and saw the way prime hunting
spots went to the highest bidder.

Tomb, who calls himself "a Texan by birth, a Kansan by choice,"
now worries that the same thing could soon happen in Kansas if a bill
in the Kansas Legislature is passed.

That measure would allow anyone who qualifies for a
"hunt-on-your-own-land" deer permit to receive a transferable
archery permit which could be used only on that landowner's property.

That transferable permit probably would go to non-residents, who
are clamoring to hunt Kansas because of its national reputation for
trophy bucks.

At worst, Tomb said, the state could be flooded with non-resident
hunters, causing an unregulated growth in leasing.

Proponents of the bill argue that it would provide farmers added
income at a time when the economy is tough. And they say that the
effects on the deer herd and the amount of land that would be tied up
in leases are being vastly overstated.

But Tomb isn't so sure. He sees bad things in Kansas' future if
the bill passes.

"The average hunter can't find a place to hunt in Texas anymore.
All the best land is tied up in expensive leases," said Tomb, a
Manhattan resident who is an avid deer hunter and past president of
the Kansas Wildlife Federation. "For example, I can't hunt on the
land where my father first took me deer hunting. It's tied up in a
25-year lease.

"I don't want to see that happen in Kansas. We'd be moving
toward a day where money is the driving force in hunting. We'd be
selling our deer herd to the highest bidder - and he or she wouldn't
be a Kansan, I'll tell you that."

State Rep. Gary Hayzlett, a Republican from Lakin, Kan., thinks
those fears are unwarranted.

He crafted the amendment in the House that would allow qualifying
landowners to transfer archery permits only to non-residents. And he
remains convinced that it's a measure that could benefit landowners
and hunters alike.

"A lot of landowners aren't hunters, but they still suffer crop
depredation from deer," Hayzlett said. "The money they receive from
selling their permits would help recoup some of that loss and still
provide them some added revenue.

"I've received a lot of positive feedback from landowners. But I
don't see this as anything that would destroy our deer herd."

In the past, Kansas had always stubbornly resisted the movement
toward leasing, even when it became increasingly common in
neighboring states. But as the state's reputation for trophy deer has
grown, so has the demand among non-residents for permits.

Kansas was one of the last states to allow non-residents to hunt
deer, and even now, has a restrictive permit system. Only 7,500
non-resident permits were issued last year. About half of that total
were eligible to be transferred from residents to non-residents.

Among the 7,500 permits were 2,500 bow hunters - half of the
number of bow hunters who applied for permits. But the
"hunt-on-your-own-land" permits have always been non-transferable.

By allowing an unlimited number of landowners to buy
"hunt-on-your-own-land" permits and sell them to outfitters or
non-residents, wildlife officials fear that a closely managed herd
could quickly be damaged.

"The biggest problem could be with mule-deer hunting," said
Chad Luce, public-information officer for the Kansas Department of
Wildlife and Parks. "That population is limited, and we restrict
hunting opportunities. Under the present system, we only allow
non-residents 240 muzzleloader permits, no archery or firearms

"If this bill were passed, every landowner in western Kansas
could receive a permit that could be transferred to a non-resident.

"We would be going from zero harvest to X - a number that could
be significant. It could have a real impact on the herd."

The effect on the whitetail herd also could be major, Luce fears.

"In a worst case, the state could be flooded with non-resident
archery hunters," Luce said. "The quality of our herd could be
destroyed. The market could crash."

The measure, House Bill 2078, passed in the House last week. It
goes to the Senate Committee on Natural Resources on Thursday. If it
meets with favorable opinion, it would then go to a Senate vote.
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