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