The Latest from Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism News


KDWPT Partners with Kansas Chapter of Backcountry Hunters and Anglers to

“Pack It Out”

18 Sep 2020 02:41 PM PDT

PRATT – Kansans who care about their public lands can make a difference by volunteering on Saturday, Sept. 26 at 8 a.m. at Cheney and Hillsdale state parks. The events, dubbed Public Lands Packouts, are sponsored by the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism and the Kansas Chapter of Backcountry Hunters and Anglers.

Apart from contributing to the betterment of some of Kansas’ top state parks, participants will also have an opportunity to network with like-minded outdoor recreationalists, raise conservation funds, and possibly join one of nation’s fastest-growing conservation groups dedicated to protecting and promoting public lands.

Kurt Ratzlaff, chairman of Kansas BHA, said Waltons, Inc., of Wichita and SMH Consultants, of Manhattan, have both pledged $5 per bag of refuse gathered at the state park events until the total reaches $5,000 per sponsor. First Lite, a national sponsor, also pledged $5 per bag filled, photographed and disposed of properly by BHA members. As for participants, prizes will also be awarded.

KDWPT staff will assist at both events to answer questions and provide bags for proper disposal, while Kansas BHA board members will be picking up refuse and providing information about their growing organization.

Ratzlaff described BHA as “…the sportsman’s voice for public lands and water,” and said it includes hikers, hunters, backpackers, mountain bikers and anglers. BHA chapters often give organized opposition to matters that threaten public lands and waters. And when needed, they’ll organize events like the Public Lands Packouts.

“Our state parks got used heavily this year. That’s great but it also has brought some issues,” said Ratzlaff. “We’re wanting to get some people out to help clean them up, but also to teach them about public lands and give everybody a chance to meet other great people who also care deeply.”

There are currently BHA chapters in 48 states and several Canadian provinces. For more on this organization, visit the Kansas BHA Facebook page or Questions can be sent to [email protected].

For more on Kansas state parks and other public lands, visit


KDWPT Fisheries Staff Seek Input on Wilson Fishery

Posted: 18 Sep 2020 02:35 PM PDT

PRATT – It could be time to reduce the daily creel limit for striped bass at Wilson Reservoir, but for anglers who are familiar with the recent history of the 9,040-acre impoundment – this proposed reduction could be considered good news; it signifies the lake’s gizzard shad and striped bass populations are once again healthy.

In 2017, Wilson’s population of gizzard shad ­– a critical food source for many of Kansas’ sportfish – crashed as a result of drought conditions in previous years. Subsequently, the health and growth rates of the lake’s prized striped bass population tanked from lack of available forage.

Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism Fisheries biologists raised the striped bass daily creel limit from two, as it had been for decades, to five to allow the gizzard shad population to recover more quickly. That would eventually mean more food, and better health, for the lake’s remaining stripers, too.

Thanks to the compliance of Kansas anglers, the strategy worked so well that Wilson’s shad population has fully recovered. The lake’s stripers have regained their health, but the population has dropped low enough to warrant protection.

The proposed daily creel limit change from five to two would begin Jan. 1, 2021, if passed by the KDWPT Commission. Commissioners will vote on the matter during their next public hearing via Zoom on Thursday, Sept. 24. Public comment regarding the proposed regulation change is encouraged, and can be shared with:

     Bryan Sowards

     KDWPT Fisheries Biologist

     (785) 658-2465

     [email protected]

When healthy, Wilson Reservoir’s striped bass population provides a trophy fishery for anglers, to include the current state record striped bass that weighed in at 44 pounds.

Striped bass also help control invasive species such as white perch, which if left unchecked, can overpopulate and decimate a sport fishery.

Wilson’s striped bass are raised at KDWPT’s Milford Hatchery and usually thrive in the impounded waters of the Saline River, growing upwards of 21 inches within just three years.

Located in Russell County – amid the Smoky Hills of northcentral Kansas – Wilson Reservoir is also home to excellent largemouth and smallmouth bass fishing, as well as walleye and white bass.

For more on Wilson Reservoir, and other fishing opportunities in Kansas, visit

For additional details on the upcoming Sept. 24 KDWPT Commission meeting, visit



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