Pelicans have made Harvey County East Park a stop on their migration, and people are driving out to the park to see the birds that are rare to Kansas.
That is something that Ron Krehbiel, a Harvey County Commissioner, wants to see continue — and why he is expressing concern with the possibility of the county allowing hunters to pursue ducks and geese at the county park.
“I do a lot of hunting, and I am for hunting,” Krehbiel said. “... I've had people talk to me that we finally have the pelicans in, and people are coming out to the park to look at them, and you are going to start duck hunting. The last time we had hunting out there, I think things went over big for hunters.”
At one time there was limited hunting of waterfowl allowed at the park — a couple of duck blinds were made available to hunters who signed up in advance to use them.
But that is no longer the case. This summer and fall, however, interest was expressed by hunters in returning to the park.
“I'm torn,” said Kass Miller, director of the Harvey County Parks Department. “We have the bald eagles out there too. … I hate to jeopardize and scare other wildlife off by having lots of shotguns going off and stuff like that.”
However, Miller is investigating the possibilities — though it is doubtful there will be any hunting made available this year.
Interest has, Miller said, seemed to wane recently. That could be in part because county administration began looking at insurance costs for the parks. According to Dan Bronson, special projects coordinator for the county, insurance for hunting at East Park would cost between $900 and $3000. That is not a cost the county would absorb, but pass on to prospective hunters.
“It was a slow process,” Bronson said. “... The county told these individuals that we would explore recreating a hunting program. We used to do that at East Park in a designated area.”
That program was “relatively controlled” and the county told those interested in resurrecting a hunting program at the park the county would not cover the cost of insurance, but was open to a partnership if other groups would cover the cost of insurance.
“We had interest this year, it seems to have stalled out,” Miller said.
There is not any current insurance coverage for hunting in the park.
Waterfowl season in Kansas has begun for 2017.
Miller is looking at a state program that would assist in creating and funding a hunting program at the park. Monday he said he did not have “all the details” but was planning a meeting with state contacts and waterfowl groups.