Flagrant dove-hunting violation shines a spotlight on Kansas

Kansas hunting created worldwide attention lately — for the wrong reason.

Word of a case in which four men were stopped in Ellis County with 209 doves in their possession has spread further than conservation officers with the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism ever imagined it would.

Hunters are outraged. And the law-enforcement arm of the state agency is hearing about it.

“On our Facebook page, we even had some messages that were from other countries,” said Kevin Jones, chief of law enforcement for the agency. “When there is a case like this, in which far more than the legal number of birds is taken, the hunters who abide by the regulations get upset. And I don’t blame them.

“These people are, in effect, stealing.”

The incident occurred on the second day of the Kansas dove season, when a conservation officer was conducting a field check. The four hunters had far more than the daily limit of 15 doves per person, and the problems began.

Law-enforcement officials are considering whether state or federal charges will be filed. Because doves are a migratory bird, federal charges are possible. If that’s the case, the hunters could face large fines, revocation of their licenses, seizure of their firearms and possibly even jail time.

The case certainly was attention-getting but not unique. Jones remembers a similar case from last year in Ellis and Graham counties.

“Every once in a while, people will get caught up in the moment,” Jones said. “The birds are flying, they have the ammunition and it gets to be a competition to see who can shoot the most birds.

“Before they know it, they’re in trouble.”

Jones said that his agency relies on tips from the public to become aware of many hunting and fishing regulations violations. He advised Kansas residents to call Operation Game Thief at 877-426-3843 if they witness regulations being broken.

To reach outdoors editor Brent Frazee, call 816-234-4319 or send email to bfrazee@kcstar.com.