PRATT–Kansas wildlife- and outdoor recreation-related activities are governed both by legislative statutes and commission-approved regulations. And the two governing bodies made some changes last year that hunters, anglers and campers should be familiar with.
The most controversial change involved legislative action that eliminated the hunting and fishing license exemption for Kansans age 65-74. Beginning in 2013, all Kansans age 16-74 will need a hunting or fishing license unless they are hunting or fishing on their own land. However, the legislation also mandated specially-priced "senior" licenses. Anyone 65 or older qualifies for a Senior Lifetime Pass, which is a hunting/fishing combination license valid for the rest of their life that will cost $42.50. They may also opt for a half-price annual hunting or fishing license ($11.50) or combination annual license ($20.50).
Hunters and anglers 65 and older are our fastest growing age group, and the old exemption would have created future funding shortfalls for wildlife and fishery programs. And the state was losing Wildlife and Sport Fishing Restoration (WSFR) funding that should have been coming to Kansas. WSFR allocates excise taxes collected on the sale of firearms, ammunition and fishing equipment to states based, in part, on the number of hunting and fishing licenses they sell. When Kansans seniors continued to hunt, fish and purchase equipment, but didn't buy licenses, Kansas lost out on WSFR funding it should have received. This change is an important step to ensuring that critical wildlife and fishery programs are maintained and that the funding base remains stable.
Another state statute established a new permit and will save Kansans money. The legislature approved a bill that allowed KDWPT to create a new annual state park vehicle permit that can be purchased when residents renew their vehicle registrations. The Kansas State Parks Passport is an annual vehicle permit valid for one year after purchase that gets the vehicle into any of our 25 state parks. The price is $15.50, which is a savings of almost $10 compared to the regular state park annual vehicle permit. Regular annual vehicle permits ($25) and half-price senior and disability vehicle permits will still be available at KDWPT offices and online. But for most park users, the new Passport will be less expensive and convenient.