Hunters from the Lawrence area Tuesday night took issue with a proposed law that would allow non-resident deer hunting in Kansas.
Steve Hawks, regional supervisor for the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks in Topeka, explained the agency's non-resident deer hunting proposal to 25 people at Lawrence Public Library.
"Allowing non-resident hunting is just the right thing to do," he said.
One audience member, Don Workman of Lawrence, criticized the agency's plan to charge non-resident hunters $266 for the right to seek a Kansas deer. Kansas residents pay $41.
"That's too much," he said. "This is nothing but a money-gouging outfit that you're running."
Workman said it would be reasonable to charge $50 to $75, because many out-of-state hunters would be former Kansas residents or relatives of residents.
SEVERAL audience members expressed concern that non-resident hunting would reduce their opportunity to take a trophy-quality buck. That point hit the mark with at least one agency official at the meeting.
"I doubt they're going to pay around $265 to hunt a doe," said Glen Hurst, regional law enforcement officer for the wildlife and parks department.
On the other hand, Ted Madl of Baldwin, said the fee would be a bargain even if it were as high as $300 per hunter.
"There is a lot of interest in this from non-residents. You have three times better chance of getting a kill here than in Colorado," Madl said.
He also said Kansans living in areas of the state that support large deer populations could charge non-residents a large fee $3,000 to $4,000 for the privilege of hunting on their property.
"As a landowner, I can stand some of that," Madl said.
HAWKS SAID the wildlife and parks department's proposal would be submitted to the Kansas Legislature in January. It would increase the maximum number of permits available by 5 percent, all of which could be issued to non-residents.
For example, assume the state decided to issue 100 permits to resident hunters in Lawrence's deer management unit. That means five additional permits would be available in this unit to non-residents. In all, 105 permits could be issued.
"The Kansas herd is in good shape," Hawks said. "The thing we're not going to do is jeopardize residents' opportunities."
Hawks said reasons to support the plan are:
The agency could lose about $5 million a year in federal funding if the "discriminatory" prohibition on non-resident deer hunting remains.
"It has me very nervous to be honest with you," Hawks said.
Issuance of 3,200 non-resident hunting permits a year would generate at least $250,000 in additional revenue for the state. That money would be allocated to the department for management of the Kansas deer herd, Hawks said.
Non-resident hunters would pump money into the Kansas economy. Hawks said a 1985 survey of game hunters indicated the proposed "modest level of non-resident" hunting would infuse almost $600,000 annually to the Kansas economy.
Deer hunting opportunities for Kansas hunters in other states would be improved. Iowa passed a law, and other states are considering laws, that would ban hunters from states that don't allow non-resident deer hunting.
JERRY HAZLETT, executive manager of the Kansas Wildlife Federation in Topeka, said in an interview Tuesday that the 6,000-member wildlife advocacy organization "has no problem with" non-resident deer hunting.
State legislators have rejected previous attempts to allow it. Currently, the wildlife and parks department has the authority to issue a small number of "doe only" hunting permits to out-of-state hunters.
However, Hawks said, that program has never been implemented because the guidelines were too restrictive.
In 1991, 60,275 firearm permits and 13,000 to 15,000 bow permits were issued to deer hunters, who reported killing almost 38,000 deer.