Sunday, November 23, 2014

State: Don’t text and hunt — it’s illegal

By BOBBY BURCH, Herald Web Editor | 12/12/2012

A decades-old Kansas law prohibiting hunters from mechanically-transmitting the whereabouts of deer and other game has been violated on multiple occasions, including via social media and texting, a state wildlife official said Wednesday.

Although amended several times, the original law was enacted in 1972 to prevent the unsporting advantage radios provided hunters, Chris Tymeson, chief legal counsel for the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism, said.

A decades-old Kansas law prohibiting hunters from mechanically-transmitting the whereabouts of deer and other game has been violated on multiple occasions, including via social media and texting, a state wildlife official said Wednesday.

Although amended several times, the original law was enacted in 1972 to prevent the unsporting advantage radios provided hunters, Chris Tymeson, chief legal counsel for the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism, said.

“It’s an issue of fair chase,” Tymeson said of the law’s intention. “It’s an old law. It’s been on the books a long time. ... When [the law] first came out, I think radio was probably the most common reason it was in existence.”  

The law — statute 32-1003 — prevents providing or receiving “information concerning the location of any game animal or furbearing animal by radio or other mechanical device for purposes of taking such bird or animal,” according to the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism’s website. Such devices include cell phones, pagers and radios, Tymeson said, adding that mechanical communication regarding an animal’s location provides hunters an “advantage” over wildlife.

During his 13 years with the state, Tymeson said several hunters have violated the law through various avenues. And while it depends on the case, he added, defying the law can result in a $500 fine or up to 30 days in jail.

“Occasionally people do violate [the law],” Tymeson said. “I heard of an example of somebody using Facebook, [and] conversing over Facebook on a public post to provide the location of a deer coming toward him.”  

Asked why sonar fish finders are not also included within the definition of “mechanical devices” that provide sportsmen an advantage over wildlife, Tymeson said fish are not included in the definition of “other game.”

Several hunters in the Franklin County area also have violated the law, Jeff Cakin, Franklin County game warden, said. During the most recent incident, which occurred earlier this year, Cakin said a person used a cell phone to gain an unfair advantage over wildlife.

“[The offender] was relaying locations of deer via text message,” Cakin said. “They got text messages while I was speaking with them, and their phones were large enough that they showed me the text messages. ... It’s happened multiple times.”

Although he approaches each violation “case-by-case,” Cakin said he must decide whether to issue a citation, or write a report for the county attorney’s office. After that, Cakin added, the county attorney must decide whether to pursue the case.

Cakin said he agreed that mechanical communication of an animal’s whereabouts is unsportsmanlike.

“It offers hunters an unfair advantage,” Cakin said. “You could have multiple people driving around an area, pointing out that there are deer or turkey, and then you could just go over to that area and be able to harvest that animal.”

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