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January 22nd, 2022

kansas department of wildlife and parks logoELLY GRIMM • Leader & Times


Hunting seasons will be coming up very soon, and as that begins, biologists with Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks (KDWP) are looking to get some information critical to managing migratory game bird populations.

Most hunters in Kansas are familiar with the Harvest Information Program (HIP) permit, but some may not be aware of the short survey that comes with it. The HIP permit is available for just $2.50 and is required to hunt migratory birds including ducks, coots, geese, brant, swans, doves, woodcock, rails, snipe, sandhill cranes, band-tailed pigeons, and gallinules in Kansas, but the associated survey is voluntary. Therefore, KDWP biologists are encouraging all HIP permit holders to “Don’t Skip the HIP” and complete said survey upon purchase, according to a recent release from the State of Kansas.

“HIP is actually something required by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Migratory birds, are managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife, and they have what is called an adaptive harvest strategy,” KDWP representative Mike Miller said. “With that, every year, U.S. Fish and Wildlife looks at a variety of survey data like population surveys and hunter harvest surveys, and they provide each of the states with frameworks so the states can set their seasons and bag limits for ducks, geese, cranes, etc. To do that survey, U.S. Fish and Wildlife asks the states for the Harvest Information Program stamp, which is $2.50 (the minimum amount that can be charged for a permit since the vendors and licensing services also have to be paid). When that stamp is sold, when that permit's sold, the vendor is asked to ask hunters a few questions about their hunting from the previous year, like if they hunted a certain bird and how many of that bird did they harvest – they're fairly broad estimations, like if it's more/less than 10. That information is then provided back to U.S. Fish and Wildlife, and then they use it to put together a more detailed and formal survey, and they'll send that survey to water fowl hunters to get a better idea on how many birds were harvested the previous season, which then goes into setting up the framework for how long the season is and the bag limits and things like that.”

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This year, Miller said, getting that information is especially important.

“The past few years, the data we've been providing to U.S. Fish and Wildlife has not been complete, and they're concerned they're not getting a full data set from our HIP,” Miller said. “We want hunters throughout the state to know this is really important information and it's used to manage the migratory bird resources, and that's how we set the season dates every year. The first migratory bird season started Sept. 1, so a lot of hunters will be out getting their licenses and water fowl stamps and HIP stamps and other necessary paperwork. We want to make sure people know when the do that survey, that information is really important, and they need to take the time to answer those questions.”

Miller said it is important for U.S. Fish and Wildlife to have a complete data set for its records. 

“All of our decisions as far as season dates and things like that are based on science and biology. U.S. Fish and Wildlife calls them adult breeding bird surveys in some areas where the water fowl tend to nest, so they take surveys all spring and summer to determine what those adult breeding populations are doing,” Miller said. “Those figures are considered along with harvest information from the previous season so U.S. Fish and Wildlife can determine if they need to make any adjustments. For example, this year, we had a drought, so they had to take that into consideration with those nesting areas and how productive they were, and some of those numbers might be down from last year and if that's the case, the bag limits might have to be stricter, or we might have to reduce the length of the season. It's all based on sustaining and maintaining a healthy migratory bird population, and hunting is part of that, but we need to also have that regulated to a degree to help with that sustainability. We've really just started this campaign to bring this to people's attention, so it's hard to say what kind of impact there will be. But we've been talking about this on our social media pages and talking with other media, and we'll continue talking about this throughout the hunting season to make people aware how important it is. We want the vendors to ask the hunters those aforementioned questions, and we want the hunters to also remind them to ask those questions.”

Miller also talked about how the survey participants are selected. 

“The U.S. Fish and Wildlife will utilize the information they get from the HIP stamp, and then they will select hunters who fit the profile they want, and they will send the survey. They might mail it, they might send it by e-mail, and those surveys can be sent back either by mail or online,” Miller said. “I want everyone to understand that information is extremely important and it has an effect on how the seasons will be set up for the future. Hunters are primary wildlife conservationists – since the 1930s, the money hunters have spent on hunting licenses and other taxes has been spent on our wildlife management programs, and we've seen some really remarkable recovery in certain wildlife populations throughout the past several years. We want to carry on that tradition and ensure hunters contribute in that way. While it's not a huge expense, the information provided through the HIP surveys is extremely valuable and important.”

Miller also talked about some things hunters should keep in mind as the seasons get started. 

“Make sure you have the right permits and paperwork and stamps and all of that, and if you're going to hunt teal or other water fowl as the season progresses, you'll need a state and federal water fowl stamp,” Miller said. “The first season runs through Nov. 29, and there are a couple other very short seasons that will be going on in that time frame. All of our season dates and licensing regulations and fees are all available on our Web site for people to refresh themselves on. The main thing we want is to bring attention to the HIP stuff and explain why it's so important. As the seasons open, our hunting regulations will be distributed within the next week or so, and especially during the dove season, there are some areas that are managed specifically for dove hunting, and all of the regulations can be found on our Web site.”

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