KDWP Seeks Landowners for Spring Walk-In Sign-Up

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Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks (KDWP) is looking for private land to lease for the 2005 spring turkey hunting season. As part of the successful Walk-in Hunting Access (WIHA) program, KDWP began leasing land for spring turkey hunting in 2001 with 42,000 acres enrolled in the program. Last year, more than 114,000 acres were enrolled statewide, and it is anticipated more than 115,000 acres will be enrolled for next spring.

“We are looking for prime areas that contain creeks, rivers, or woodland areas that support turkeys during the spring,” says Brad Simpson, WIHA coordinator. “In addition, the same land can be enrolled in WIHA for the 2005 fall hunting seasons.”

Lease payments are dependent on how many acres are enrolled, with an additional payment if land will be included for the fall hunting seasons. The lease agreements are made on an annual basis, with options for multi-year lease agreements; however, landowners may cancel their contracts at anytime.

"Besides receiving a lease payment, there are numerous advantages to enrolling in the program" Simpson adds. "One of the major concerns from landowners is liability, but state law provides that private individuals who lease their land to the state for recreational purposes are immune from damage or injuries resulting from ordinary negligence. Also, hunting is by foot traffic only. No vehicles are allowed on the property, and natural resource officers will periodically patrol the property. For those landowners who perceive turkeys as a problem, hunters can help control turkey populations.

"Landowners who enroll in the program still conduct their routine farm and ranch operations. KDWP is only leasing the hunting rights on the property. The landowner still maintains his property rights."

The deadline to apply for the 2005 spring turkey hunting WIHA program is Dec. 31. For more information, phone the Pratt Operations Office at 620-672-5911.