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Posted on Fri, Jun. 25, 2004

It'll be status quo for Kansas quail hunters


The Kansas City Star

The debate over the Kansas quail hunting season is over.

After months of heated discussion about a Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks proposal to start the quail season a week earlier, things are back where they started.

That is, the season will open the second Saturday of November, just as it has for years.

“The will of the people has won,” said Dan Vidricksen of Salina, Kan., a representative of the Quail Unlimited conservation group. “No one I talked to was in favor of what they were proposing.

“At a time when the quail are struggling, it just didn't make sense to liberalize the hunting season.”

Wildlife and Parks wildlife biologists proposed the new opening date as a way to focus more attention on the quail. For years, the quail has shared the opener with the more-glamorous pheasant and has often been overshadowed.

Biologists said there was no biological reason not to move the quail opener; that there would be little additional harvest of bobwhites and thus no damage to the overall population.

But hunters reacted strongly, saying it was the wrong move at a time when quail populations are still down in Kansas. They said it sent the wrong message at the wrong time.

Wildlife and Parks commissioners apparently agreed. The measure came to a quiet end Thursday night at a commission meeting at Johnson County Community College when the measure failed to get a second.

That reverted the season to the way it has stood for years — opening on the second Saturday of November and running through Jan. 31.

“Liberalizing seasons when quail are in decline just isn't right,” said Robert Robel of Manhattan, a longtime wildlife researcher. “It's a public-relations hand grenade.”

Roger Applegate, a wildlife biologist for Wildlife and Parks, expressed disappointment, but not surprise.

“We knew that a lot of hunters were opposed to this,” he said, “so, we're not surprised.”

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