Kansas Walk-in Hunting Access Enrollment

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Deadline July 1; payments have increased; additional prairie signup offered. Landowners interested in the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks’ Walk-In Hunting Access Program (WIHA) are reminded that the deadline for enrollment is July 1. The WIHA program, which began in 1995, grew to a million acres in 100 counties in 2006. Lease payments have increased $100 per contract from previous years.

Almost anyone who owns, leases, or manages 80 contiguous acres of land with suitable wildlife habitat can qualify. A little more than half the land enrolled in WIHA is federal Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) grass, but other lands are also considered, including native rangeland, weedy wheat stubble, milo stubble, and riparian and wetland areas.

After receiving a request, KDWP biologists will review the land for game habitat potential. Payment rates are based on the size and location of tracts and the number of months the landowner wants the land open to hunting. An additional 50 percent bonus is
offered for WIHA in the following urban counties: Butler, Coffey, Cowley, Douglas, Franklin, Harvey, Jackson, Jefferson, Kingman, Leavenworth, Lyon, Miami, Osage, Ottawa, Reno, Saline, Sedgwick, Shawnee, Sumner, Johnson, Wyandotte, and Wabaunsee.

Once enrolled, the property is posted and included in maps published in a free atlas provided by KDWP. Natural resource officers periodically patrol WIHA properties. In addition, state law provides additional protection to private individuals who lease their agricultural land to the state for recreational purposes from liability for damages or injuries resulting from ordinary negligence.

Lease options include Sept. 1-Jan. 31 and Nov. 1-Jan. 31 open periods. A popular spin-off is the Spring Turkey WIHA, April 1- May 31. Another option, new for 2007, is a prairie chicken WIHA signup for areas of central and eastern Kansas with suitable prairie chicken habitat. This enrollment period is for the early prairie chicken season only -- Sept. 15-Oct. 15 -- and payments are in addition to other WIHA contracts the landowner may have enrolled in.

For more information, phone 620-672-5911.