Donation adds approximately 4,000 acres for spring turkey hunters
PRATT -- Kansas turkey hunters will have new hunting areas during the 2006 spring turkey season through a partnership between the National Wild Turkey Federation (NWTF) and the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks (KDWP). The NWTF Kansas State Chapter has donated funds to KDWP's Kansas' Walk-in Hunting Areas (WIHA) program that will increase public spring turkey hunting WIHA to 130,000 acres.

According to Brad Simpson, KDWP private lands coordinator, this was the first time a conservation organization has donated specifically to the WIHA program.

"WIHA is a means of providing public access to private land while giving landowners a way to manage birds in these areas," Simpson said. "With this donation, we'll be able to lease an additional 4,000 acres in northcentral Kansas for turkey hunting."

Kansas' WIHA program was started in 1995 to provide hunters with places to pursue deer, small game, and upland game birds during the fall hunting seasons. In 2001, the spring version of the WIHA program was initiated for turkey hunters.

"In a state with very little public-owned land, Kansas is the perfect place to lease land from private landowners for hunters," said Brandon Houck, NWTF regional biologist for Kansas. "Both hunters and landowners benefit from the Walk-In Hunting Areas program."

In addition to payment for use, landowners receive immunity from liability when land is leased to the state for recreation. Kansas natural resource officers also patrol the land in the WIHA program, looking for violations from poaching to littering. Landowners can withdraw from the program at any time and receive signs stating that the land has been removed from the program.

Thousands of Kansas resident and nonresident hunters have taken advantage of the WIHA program. Available hunting land is marked with signs and listed in an atlas by county.

To learn more information about the NWTF, its Kansas state chapter, or its donation to Kansas' Walk in Hunter Areas program, phone 1-800-THE-NWTF.