Proposed bill would impact deer hunting in Barton, rest of Kansas

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“If we lose our reputation as a trophy white-tail deer state, the value for every one of those landowners goes down.” That was the message from Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks (KDWP) Secretary Brad Loveless to the Kansas House Committee on Agriculture and Nature Resources Budget Monday in Topeka. Loveless expressed concerns about House Bill 2672 which would establish transferable landowner appreciation permits for the hunting of white-tailed deer.

“The potential impact resulting from the widescale issuance of transferrable antler-deer permits on the Kansas white-tail deer herd and associated hunting industry would be catastrophic,” Loveless testified, “based on other states that have experienced sharp declines in the quality of deer herds due to overharvesting.”

As introduced by Rep. Ken Corbet, a Republican from Topeka, the bill would allow one appreciation permit for every 80 acres of land owned, with a 10 permit maximum. The permit would be valid for any white-tailed deer during hunting season when legal weapons are used. Corbet said the permits are a way to give back to farmers.

“Wildlife does do a lot of damage,” he said. “You expect these farmers and landowners, which they do, they raise, feed, and take care of all the game in the state for free, except for maybe this appreciation tag, for you all to enjoy, both consumptive and non-consumptive.”

Corbet said KWDP owns all game in Kansas but 97 percent of the land is privately owned so there is not always access to the game. He said passage of the bill could open up millions of acres of land that has never been hunted. Loveless said the people of Kansas own the animals and without KDWP regulations, healthy populations would be difficult to sustain.

Taylor Nikkel, director of the Stockgrowers Division for the Kansas Livestock Association agreed that a maximum of 10 permits for each landowner is too many.

“We would recommend the committee work with the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks to establish a minimum and maximum permit threshold that allows landowners to recuperate lost farm income attributable to deer damage while maintaining an adequate deer population across the management units,” Nikkel said.

Concerns were raised about whether the wording of the bill meant 80 continuous acres or if landowners could combine properties to reach the total, and where hunters could hunt on that land.

“If each permit holder is only allowed to hunt on the specific 80 acres that is tied to their permit, then complications could arise for not only that permit holder but the landowner,” Nikkel said. “We believe the permit should allow the recipient to hunt on all the landowner’s property, not just the 80 acres associated with the permit.”

The bill proposes that landowner appreciation permits may be transferred but not sold to any resident or non-resident with a valid hunting license with a written request and approval.

In a letter to Corbet ahead of Monday’s meeting, Director of the Budget Adam Proffitt said KDWP estimates lost revenue exceeding $700,000 in lost permit sales. KDWP conservatively estimated that 10,680 appreciation permits could be transferred. If 70 percent of that figure went to non-residents, KDWP would lose $3.36 million each in the Wildlife Fee Fund. KDWP also receives federal funding based on the number of licenses sold each year. Based on the 10,680 figure, that would amount in the loss of $940,801 beginning in fiscal year 2026.

The committee recommended passage of the bill with amendments making the 80 acres contiguous and capping the number of appreciation permits at two instead of 10. The cost of each appreciation permit was amended from zero dollars to $25.

As reported in the Great Bend Post

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