Saturday, June 27, 2015

Black Bear Spotted in Cherokee County

The report of a black bear sighting in Cherokee County last weekend was verified by Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism (KDWPT) biologists with photographs and tracks. A black bear was videoed on Saturday, June 20 and photographed on Sunday, June 21 in locations about 16 miles apart. Tracks in soft soil were also identified.

According to KDWPT furbearer biologist Matt Peek, it is uncertain whether this was one or two separate bears, but both the video and photos appeared to show a young animal.
“It’s common for yearling black bears to disperse into new areas seeking their own home range,” Peek said. “Missouri biologists have reported seeing a lot of this lately.”

These transient bears probably account for the handful of black bear reports in Kansas in recent years. Most reports occur in far southwest Kansas, where multiple dispersal-aged bears have been documented since 2000.

Cherokee County is the farthest southeast county in Kansas, nearest Missouri, Oklahoma, and Arkansas where viable black bear populations exist, making it the most likely spot for bears to enter Kansas. While no permanent population of black bears has been verified in Kansas, they occurred in the eastern third of the state prior to settlement.

Black bears are usually nonaggressive. However, they are large, powerful, wild animals and should be given respect and space. Human/bear conflicts in other states usually occur when a bear locates food near a house. Care should be taken to not allow any bear access to pet food, birdseed or grain. There is no hunting season on black bears in Kansas, and they may not be shot for mere presence. Do not attempt to approach a bear, even from a distance.
For more information on rare wildlife sightings in Kansas, visit

Friday, June 26, 2015

Elk and Either-Species/Either-Sex Deer Permit Applications Due July 10

PRATT – The application deadline for the limited number of 2015 Unit 2A (Ft. Riley) resident-only elk and resident-only either-species/either-sex firearm deer permits are quickly approaching. Hunters have until 11:59 p.m. on July 10, 2015 to apply for these draws, or purchase a preference point. A hunter who does not wish to hunt this year may purchase a preference point that will count toward a firearm either-species/either-sex deer permit in a future drawing or a bonus point for either-sex elk. Unsuccessful applicants automatically receive preference or bonus points.

Draw applications for either of these species can be made by visiting and clicking “Hunting,” then “Applications and Fees,” or by calling(620) 672-5911.

Firearm Either-species/Either-sex Deer permit (white-tailed or mule deer buck, doe or fawn)

General Resident: $37.50
Landowner/Tenant: $22.50
Resident Youth (15 and younger): $17.50
Preference Point: $6.50
Elk - Firearms (Any Elk)
General Resident: $252.50
Landowner/Tenant: $127.50
Resident Youth (15 and younger): $127.50
Elk (antlerless)
General resident: $102.50
Landowner/Tenant: $52.50
Resident Youth (15 and younger): $52.50
The fee to apply for an elk permit or purchase a bonus point is $7.69.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Heightened Enforcement of BUI Laws to Take Place June 26-28

 The Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism (KDWPT) will be participating in the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators “Operation Dry Water” (ODW) event, June 26-28. ODW is a nationally-coordinated effort to reduce the number of accidents and deaths related to boating under the influence (BUI). During this three-day period, KDWPT officers will be conducting increased patrols, breathalyzer tests, and checkpoints, as well as providing boater education and outreach.

“Studies have found that people become impaired faster when boating as opposed to driving due to additional factors such as heat, dehydration, wind and wave action,” said KDWPT assistant director of law enforcement, Major Dan Hesket. “Our goal is to promote awareness of the hazards relating to boat operations while intoxicated and to prevent any accidents, injuries, or deaths due to operating while impaired.”

Hesket encourages anyone who suspects a boater to be intoxicated to dial 911 and provide the operator with the location, the suspect boat’s registration numbers, and a complete description of the operator and passengers.

Boaters whose blood alcohol content (BAC) level exceeds the state limit of .08 percent can expect to be arrested for BUI and face other serious penalties including fines, jail time and loss of boating or even driving privileges.

According to Hesket, the KDWPT Law Enforcement Division averages approximately 11 special enforcement efforts over the ODW weekend, resulting in four to eight BUI arrests each year.

For more information, visit

Kansas Wildlife, Parks and Tourism Commission Approves Teal Seasons

At the evening Public Hearing portion of its June 18 meeting in Hays, the Kansas Wildlife, Parks and Tourism Commission approved the early teal season and Fort Riley deer season dates for 2015.

Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism staff recommended early teal season dates, using frameworks provided by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS). Most blue-winged teal migrate through Kansas in August and September before regular waterfowl seasons are open, so the USFWS allows states to establish a September season. The trigger for allowing the season and its length is the May Breeding Population Index (BPI), which is the number of blue-winged teal surveyed on the Prairie Pothole Region in May. If the BPI is 3.3 million bluewings, the USFWS allows a 9-day season. If the BPI exceeds 4.7 million, a 16-day season is allowed. Based on last year’s BPI of 8.5 million blue-winged teal and spring habitat conditions on the Prairie Pothole Region, staff expect the frameworks to allow a 16-day season.

The Commission approved the staff recommendation of an Early Teal Season in the Low Plains Zones taking place Sept. 12-27, 2015. Because the Migratory Bird Treaty Act limits the number of days for hunting of any one species to 107, the teal season in the High Plains Zone cannot be 16 days long. USFWS frameworks allow 97 days for the regular duck season, and two days for a youth season. The leaves only 8 days for an early teal season. To remain within the frameworks, staff recommended a 9-day Early Teal Season for the High Plains Zone taking place Sept. 19-27, 2015. (The regular High Plains Zone duck season will include 96 days to stay within the 107 maximum number of days.)

In other Public Hearing business, the Commission heard and approved recommendations for the deer seasons on the Fort Riley Military Reservation. To accommodate the changing training mission, Fort Riley personnel have requested additional archery hunting days and additional days for youth and persons with disabilities. The 12-day firearm deer season on the fort will be split into three segments.

The Commission approved the following dates for deer hunting on Fort Riley. In addition to the regular archery season, persons with required authorization can hunt with archery equipment Sep. 1-13, 2015 and Jan. 11-31, 2016. In addition to the regular season for youth and hunters with disabilities, those designated persons may hunt Oct. 9-12, 2015 on Fort Riley. There will be no Pre-rut Whitetail Antlerless-only Season on the Fort. The deer firearm season on Fort Riley will be Nov. 27-29Dec. 19-23, and Dec. 26-29, 2015.

The next Kansas Wildlife, Parks and Tourism Commission public meeting will be conducted at the Kansas Wetlands Education Center, 592 NE K-156 Highway, Great Bend. The afternoon session will begin at 1 p.m. and recess at 5p.m. The evening Public Hearing session will begin at 6:30 p.m.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Beginner Sailing Classes to be Held for Youth Ages 8-17

The Ninnescah Sailing Association’s (NSA) Jr. Sailing Camps are underway and youth age 8-17 are invited to attend. The first camp session will be offered July 6-10, and a second camp session will be offered July 20-24. All classes will take place from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily and will be held at the Afterdeck Activity Center at Cheney Lake. Topics covered will include water safety, sailboat handling, sailboat racing, and sportsmanship.

Parents can rest assured their children will be in good hands as the camp is taught by experienced, certified U.S. sailing instructors Brenyn Kissinger, Charlene Randle, and Texie Randle.

The cost to attend is $150 per non-member student, and $125 for members. Non-member students will receive a one-year junior membership in NSA with registration. Life jackets, course materials, use of sailboats, and safety equipment are included in the fee.

For information and to register, call (316) 655-4993 or e-mail

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Leftover Nonresident White-tailed Deer Permits Available July 1

PRATT – A total of 957 leftover Nonresident Either-sex White-tailed Deer Permits will be available for purchase on a first-come, first-served basis beginning July 1 at 12 a.m. CDT. Hunters can purchase a permit online at, in person anywhere wherever licenses are sold, or over the phone by calling (620) 672-0728.

Leftover permits for purchase beginning July 1 are available in the following units:

Unit 6- 31 permits

Unit 10- 227 permits

Unit 13- 260 permits

Unit 15- 24 permits

Unit 16- 313 permits

Unit 18- 102 permits

During the time of purchase, hunters may designate equipment and season, as well as one adjacent unit to hunt in. Hunters who purchase a leftover permit will lose any preference points they may have accumulated for next year's drawing. No hunter may purchase more than one permit that allows the taking of an antlered deer. An antlered deer permit is required before purchasing additional Antlerless-only White-tailed Deer Permits. All nonresident White-tailed Either-sex Deer Combo Permits include two tags; one good for a buck or doe, and one valid for a white-tailed antlerless deer.

For the most up-to-date information on the total number of permits available for any given unit following July 1, visit and click “Hunting,” “Applications and Fees,” “Deer,” and “Quotas and Draw Stats.”

Kansas Game Wardens Recognized for Exemplary Efforts

PRATT – The Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism (KDWPT) law enforcement division recently presented several game wardens with awards for their outstanding efforts both on and off the field in 2014. The following officers were recognized for their exemplary efforts:

The Award of Merit was presented to Hal Kaina and Greg Salisbury. Kaina received the award for his investigation work in developing information leading to the arrest of an individual involved in the theft of copper wire from agricultural irrigation systems. Salisbury received the award for his actions relating to a house fire in rural Ottawa County.

Matt Hanvey and Jason Harrold were presented with the Richard Harrold Memorial Award for Investigations. Hanvey and Harrold were recognized for their investigation of a multi-year case involving four individuals from Mississippi. All four violators were charged and arrested on several charges, including multiple counts of taking deer, some classified as trophy animals, without licenses or permits.

The Boating Officer of the Year Award was presented to Kurt Hudson for his efforts in advancing boating safety across the state by participating in a variety of training and educational programs, special enforcement efforts aimed at reducing impaired operation of watercraft, and going above and beyond to acquire advanced training.

Josh DeHoux was presented with the Live Saving Award. DeHoux, who witnessed a vehicle accident on I-35 in the Kansas City area, stopped and helped perform CPR on one of the victims. Although the victim did not survive, DeHoux is recognized for his efforts to save the life of another person.

Jeff Goeckler, Lance Hockett and Jesse Gehrt were also presented with the Live Saving Award for their efforts in saving a hunter shot with a 20 gauge shotgun. Through their direct action and working in coordination with local EMS personnel, the victim survived the injury.

The Award of Valor was presented to Owen Johnson. Johnson, while on patrol, was involved in a vehicle accident. Although sustaining serious injuries himself, including a triple fracture to his fifth neck vertebrae, a fractured eye socket, broken nose, three fractured ribs and multiple contusions of the head, Johnson still managed to notify emergency services and rendered aid to the other victims of the accident until emergency services arrived on the scene.

The Director’s Award was presented to Lt. Bob Funke, Brad Hageman, Jeff Cakin, Lynn Koch, Jon Entwhistle, Mike Hopper, Scott Leamon, Ben Womelsdorf and K-9 Libby, and Investigator Jason Hawman for their work in the investigation and prosecution of eight individuals who were charged with 48 violations. The charges included four counts of felony commercialization of wildlife as well as charges for the possession of stolen property. Officers from the Department’s Public Lands Section, Parks Division, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Osage County Sheriff’s Officer were also involved in the investigation.

Dave Adams was presented with the Officer of the Year Award. Adams, who was recently the lead officer in the investigation of eight individuals violating numerous wildlife and criminal laws, was recognized for his dedication to the mission of conservation law enforcement. Apart from his law enforcement duties, Adams is also involved in hunter education, boating safety, and the Archery in the Schools Program.

For more information on the KDWPT Law Enforcement division, including requirements for becoming a game warden, visit

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Flathead Handfishing Season Open to Adventure-seekers

To explore the unknown and murky depths of a catfish nest, to be willing to wrestle a male flathead to the water’s surface bare-handed, to feel the unforgiving grinding of a bristly tooth patch rubbing against your skin ­- that is handfishing.

“Handfishing is a challenging sport that only a small portion of our anglers are willing to attempt,” said Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism (KDWPT) Fisheries section chief, Doug Nygren. “It’s really a unique opportunity for the adventurers out there.”

Handfishing requires an angler to use their hands as the bait and hook. They will find a suspected catfish hole, barricade possible exits the fish might escape through, stick their arm inside, and lurk around for a catfish mouth to grab. Although somewhat simple in theory, handfishing is an angling technique not for the faint of heart. And according to KDWPT license records, only 578 anglers were willing to take on the sport in 2014.

Adding to the challenge, regulations do not allow man-made objects that attract fish, such as a barrel, box, or bathtub to be used. Handfishing anglers are also prohibited from using snorkel or scuba gear. A stringer may be used, but not until the catfish is caught by hand and is at or above the water’s surface.

Luckily, Kansas is one of a handful of states that offer this special season. With a special permit, anglers can handfish for flathead catfish in select waters from sunrise to sunset June 15-Aug. 31.
Kansas waters open to handfishing include: the entire length of the Arkansas River, all federal reservoirs from beyond 150 yards of the dam to the upstream end of the federal property, and the Kansas River from its origin, downstream to its confluence with the Missouri River.
“These fish are going to be found in areas that have structures beneath the water, like rocks and old trees,” said Nygren. “An angler’s best bet is to try a federal reservoir with rip-rap areas open to handfishing.”

Handfishing permits can be obtained for $27.50 at license vendors, or online at

For more information, consult the 2015 Kansas Fishing Regulations Summary, or visit

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Early Migratory Bird Seasons to be Set at June 18 KDWPT Commission Meeting

PRATT – Several regulations focusing on the upcoming waterfowl seasons will be discussed at the Kansas Wildlife, Parks and Tourism Commission meeting June 18. The meeting will be held at Fort Hays State University – Robbins Center, One Tiger Place, Hays, and will begin at 1 p.m. with time for public comments on non-agenda items. Shortly thereafter, a general discussion period will commence, followed by a general discussion period with remarks on agency and state fiscal status; the 2015 legislative session; tourism division activities; license fees; and state park updates.

Following the general discussion, the workshop session will cover topics considered for potential regulatory action at a future meeting, including park regulations, fishing regulations, duck zone boundaries, and the late migratory bird seasons.

The commission will recess at 5 p.m., then reconvene at 6:30 p.m. at the same location to discuss any remaining general discussion and workshop items, and begin the public hearing. Public hearing items to be discussed and voted on include early migratory bird seasons and the deer season on the Fort Riley Military Reservation.

Time will be available in both the afternoon and evening sessions for public comment on non-agenda items. If necessary, the commission will reconvene at the same location at 9 a.m., June 19, to complete any unfinished business.

Live video and audio streaming of the meeting can be accessed by visiting

If notified in advance, the department will have an interpreter available for the hearing impaired. To request an interpreter, call the Kansas Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing at 1-800-432-0698. Any individual with a disability may request other accommodations by contacting the Kansas Wildlife, Parks and Tourism Commission secretary at (620) 672-5911.

The next commission meeting is scheduled for August 20, 2015 at the Kansas Wetlands Education Center, 592 NE K-156 Hwy, Great Bend.

Donate to Fund Disabled Veteran Hunt and Fish Licenses

PRATT – To show appreciation for the service and sacrifice of our disabled veterans, the Kansas Legislature annually appropriates a limited amount of funding to provide them free hunting and fishing licenses. Any Kansas resident who is a military veteran with at least 30 percent disability qualifies, and application for the licenses must be made each year. However, if the number of qualified applicants exceeds the amount appropriated, the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism (KDWPT) must cease issuing the licenses or rely on a pool of donations to fund them. Anyone purchasing a hunting or fishing license online is given the option through a check box to make a donation to fund these licenses.

The appropriation for Fiscal Year 2015 ran out in May and donations have been exhausted, so KDWPT has applications for licenses that cannot be issued. The appropriation is expected to be in the FY2016 budget, but those funds won’t be available until July 1 and may be insufficient to fund all the applications that could arrive during the coming fiscal year.

It’s difficult to predict demand for these licenses and permits and when funding runs out, the only recourse is to use donations. Help ensure our disabled veterans enjoy the Kansas outdoors by donating when you purchase licenses online. Call 620-672-5911 for more information.

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Two Salina High School Students Win State Fishing Championship

MILFORD – Nickolas Davenport and Hunter Baird, members of the Salina Stix Fishing Team, took first place at the 2015 Kansas State High School Fishing Championship at Milford Lake in Junction City May 31. One of 14 teams, the first place duo was able to tip the scales in their favor by reeling in three bass that weighed a combined 6 pounds and 7 ounces. Their first place spot at the championship qualified them for the High School Fishing Southern Conference Championship in Pine Bluff, Ark. this October, and earned them the title of state champions.

Coming in second place were Zach Vielhauer and Nathanial Thompson, members of the Kansas Student Angler Federation, followed by Thomas Heinen and Brock Bila of Hayden High School in third place. Veilhauer and Thompson had a weigh-in of 4 pounds and 6 ounces, followed closely by Heinin and Bila with a weigh-in of 4 pounds and 1 ounce.

For complete results and photos from the tournament, visit

Persons interested in starting a high school fishing club can visit to learn how.

Friday, June 5, 2015

Two Kansas Hunter Education Instructors Make Hall of Fame

PRATT – The Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism is proud to announce two of the Department’s very own hunter education instructors have been inducted into the International Hunter Education Association’s (IHEA-USA) Hall of Fame. Ray Fischer and Dennis Vincent were inducted at the IHEA-USA’s annual conference May 18-21, 2015 in Des Moines, IA. Fischer, a veteran instructor of 20 years, received the Volunteer Hunter Education Hall of Fame Award, and Vincent, a veteran instructor of 25 years, received the Professional Hunter Education Hall of Fame Award.

Fischer became involved with the Kansas Hunter Education program in 1995 serving as an instructor. Just two short years later, he was named an area coordinator. To date, he has served in several capacities, including serving on the program’s advisory committee for the past seven years.

“Fischer makes learning a fun and rewarding adventure for his students,” said nominator and Kansas Hunter Education coordinator, Kent Barrett. “As busy as he is with family, work and other activities, he always finds time to volunteer.”

Vincent, named the 2014 Kansas Hunter Education Instructor of the Year, is also a committed member of the program.

“Dennis is a down-to-earth spokesman for hunting and shooting,” Barrett said of Vincent. “He is able to communicate with everyone from the politician in the statehouse, to the hunting veteran with 30 years of field experience, to the apprehensive mother watching her 12-year-old son shoot a shotgun for the first time.”

IHEA-USA is the professional hunter education association affiliated with the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies and the 50 state fish and hunter education programs. These programs throughout the US utilize 55,000 instructors, many of whom are volunteers, who teach hunting and shooting safety, as well as hunter ethics and responsibilities.

Through the Hall of Fame program, IHEA-USA annually recognizes professionals and volunteers who go "above and beyond" the call of duty to bring hunter safety education to students and instructors in their states; assist IHEA-USA in a manner that exceeds a general effort; and benefit hunter safety education nationally, including involvement within the community as well as with conservation partners and the hunting and shooting sports industries at the state and national levels. 

For more information on the IHEA Hall of Fame, visit

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Ninnescah Sailing Association Invites Adults to Learn to Sail

CHENEY – The Ninnescah Sailing Association (NSA) invites anyone 18 and older interested in boating to sign up for their “Learn to Sail” program. Open to non-members, the program is taught by experienced, certified U.S. sailing instructors who will share their knowledge of basic boat-handling skills, sailing terminology, knot tying, and more.

The three-day course consists of an introductory classroom session, followed by two water days. After completing the classroom session, students will receive sailing instruction on a Sunfish sailboat, hands-on keelboat training, and get to sail with experienced NSA keelboat owners and their crews. Both days of sailing on the water will include brief periods of onshore demonstrations and classroom work.

The cost to attend is $250 per non-member student, and $195 for members. Life jackets, course materials, use of sailboats, and safety equipment are included in the fee. Graduates of the class interested in joining NSA will have their initiation fee waived and pay half-price on their first year of membership.

For information on program dates and to register, call (316) 655-4993 or e-mail

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Helping Heroes Heal Bass Fishing Tournament at Council Grove City Lake

COUNCIL GROVE – Patriot Outdoors Adventures is proud to host the “Helping Heroes Heal” Bass Fishing Tournament June 14 at Council Grove City Lake, located 3.5 miles northwest of Council Grove. This unique event will pair veterans with members of local bass fishing clubs to compete in a fishing tournament. The event will include official weigh-ins and a presentation of awards. Members of the public and media are invited to watch. Although all spots are filled for the tournament, Patriot Outdoors Adventures invites any veteran who has been affected by time spent in service to be a part of future events by contacting Nathan McClure at (785) 375-1327

The Helping Heroes Heal Bass Fishing Tournament will begin on Saturday, June 13 with a meet and greet at 4 p.m. followed by the fishing tournamentSunday morning. An opening ceremony will begin at 5:30 a.m. at the boat dock and fishing will begin at 6 a.m. Weigh-ins will begin at noon in accordance with state and local fishing regulations, and the awards ceremony and closing events will follow.

Patriot Outdoors Adventures is a 501(c)3 charity that was established by retired Sgt. Maj. Mark Spencer in 2008. Spencer, a wounded veteran, created the organization as a way to help other veterans struggling with physical, mental and emotional injuries transition back into civilian life, as well as learn how to live with their injuries. To learn more, visit them on Facebook at “Patriot Outdoors Adventures.”