PRATT – A shift in Kansas’ elk hunting season dates and management units will address local landowner concerns of crop damage caused by elk. At their June 21 public hearing at the Great Plains Nature Center in Wichita, Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism (KDWPT) commissioners voted in favor of moving the harvest season opener from September 1 to August 1 and reducing the size of Unit 2 – the unit that includes and provides a protective buffer around Fort Riley – to provide landowners with more options for controlling elk numbers on their land.
A firearms season from August 1-31 will allow landowners to use the open hunting season to remove elk at a time when crop damage can be an issue. And part of the boundary of Elk Management Unit 2 was shifted closer to Fort Riley to allow more options for hunting elk that had taken up permanent residence in an area north of the Fort. Permits valid in Elk Management Unit 2 are restricted to limited draw and hunt-your-own-land elk permits. By shifting the boundary, the area in question becomes part of Unit 3, where an unlimited number of over-the-counter resident and landowner/tenant either-sex elk permits or antlerless-only elk permits are valid.
“Several landowners expressed concern about the number of elk staying north of Highway 24 and south of 22nd Road within the Fort Riley buffer area,” said KDWPT wildlife research biologist Matt Peek. “While the buffer was intended to provide additional protection for elk residing on Fort Riley, these elk were permanently residing on private land miles from the Fort.”
Peek is confident this change will not impact elk residing primarily on Fort Riley, as a minimum buffer of several miles surrounding Unit 2A will still be maintained. As for the August season opener, elk have been on a long but gradual increase in number and distribution in the state, which Peek said is due in large part to landowners who accept elk on their land with the knowledge that they’ll be able to hunt them and maintain them at acceptable numbers.
“This gives landowners an incentive to have elk,” said Peek, “and elk are doing well in the state as a result.”
Listed below are the 2018-2019 elk season dates.
ELK SEASONS – OUTSIDE FORT RILEY
9/1 – 9/30/18: Muzzleloader
9/17 – 12/31/18: Archery
11/28 – 12/9/18: Firearm
1/1 – 3/15/19: Firearm – Extended Season
ELK SEASONS – FORT RILEY
9/1 – 9/30/18: Muzzleloader and Archery
10/1 – 10/31/18: Antlerless-Only Firearm, First Segment
10/1 – 12/31/18: Firearm Season for Holders of Any-Elk Permits
11/1 – 11/30/18: Antlerless-Only Firearm, Second Segment
12/1 – 12/31/18: Antlerless-Only Firearm, Third Segment
Other items the KDWPT Commission voted on during the June 21 meeting included select changes to the Department’s Public Lands reference document and 2018-2019 deer season dates for Fort Riley.
A video recording of the June 21 meeting is now available on ksoutdoors.com.
The next KDWPT Commission meeting is scheduled for Thursday, August 2, 2018 at the Gyp Hills Guest Ranch, 3393 SW Woodward Rd., southwest of Medicine Lodge.