Ravenwood hunting lodge owner Ken Corbet tracked down votes Tuesday to advance a House bill allowing Kansas landowners to resell their permits for hunting white-tail deer on the open market at any price to nonresidents of the state.
The controversial legislation survived a first-round vote 63-60 but has yet to run the Senate gauntlet and earn the endorsement of Gov. Laura Kelly. At least five similar bills have failed to survive the legislative process in the past couple of years.
The Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism opposed the bill authored by Corbet, a Topeka Republican, when it was debated by a House committee.
"There's plenty of deer," Corbet said. "The farmers would like to have a chance to get in on the situation. Basically all they're asking on this deal is a chance to be a player."
The House defeated an amendment offered by Rep. Stan Frownfelter, D-Kansas City, to require deer hunting permits to be issued to Kansans before determining the number of permits available to out-of-state applicants. His amendment was drafted by the state wildlife department.
Rep. Lonnie Clark, R-Junction City, and Rep. Doug Blex, R-Independence, said they were opposed to the Corbet bill, arguing it could distort the availability of hunting for Kansas and do nothing to reduce overpopulation of female deer.
Opponents of the bill also said the proposed change in law could be exploited by outfitters who would broker agreements with landowners and out-of-state hunters drawn to Kansas for trophy deer. A similar program implemented in Kansas two decades ago was suspended because of violations of permit transfer rules and poaching of wildlife.
Currently, thousands of nonresident hunters obtain deer permits through a Kansas lottery, and 97 percent of permits made available for that purpose are issued annually.
Provisions of House Bill 2167 would improve the odds of out-of-state hunters securing a permit and finding a location to hunt. Twenty-four percent of permitted deer hunters in Kansas are nonresidents, state officials said.
Corbet predicted enactment of the legislation could attract as many as 4,500 tourists each year for hunting in Kansas. Under the bill, the permits could be sold by landowners at any price. One transferable permit would be allowed for each resident with at least 80 acres.