Acreage limited this year; early enrollment encouraged

PRATT -- The Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks (KDWP) is once again looking to lease land from landowners and/or tenants for the highly successful Walk-In Hunting Areas (WIHA) program. The WIHA program leases private land for hunting purposes only, with more than one million acres enrolled statewide last year.

Brad Simpson, KDWP private land coordinator, urged landowners or tenants who are interested in the program to contact KDWP as soon as possible to get their land enrolled for this fall hunting season.

"This year, the number of acres we can accept in the program are limited, primarily because of budget constraints," Simpson said. "The sooner landowners and tenants get their applications in, the better their chances of getting in the program.

"We are primarily interested in any parcels greater than 80 acres that offer hunting opportunities for quail, pheasant, deer, or turkey," Simpson continued. "The type of land that can be accepted in the program includes CRP, rangeland, or crop stubble. If there is a variety of habitat types on the property, that is a plus."

Other than dramatic growth, few changes have occurred in the program from its inception in 1994. Besides receiving a lease payment, the landowner still maintains control of the property and is immune from damages or injuries resulting from ordinary negligence on lands leased to the state for recreational purposes.

"We only obtain the hunting rights to the property during the contract period," Simpson explained. "This can run from September or November through the end of January. All other rights are retained by the landowner."

For more information, interested landowners and tenants may contact the Pratt Operations Office at 620-672-5911 or visit the KDWP website . Just type "WIHA" in the search bar.