SHAWNEE, Kan. — Kansas Wildlife, Parks and Tourism commissioners passed a regulation change that will allow hunters to use artificial light, night vision and thermal-imaging equipment when hunting coyotes at night beginning in 2021.
The move comes despite the objections of the Kansas Sheriff’s Association and Kansas Game Warden FOP Lodge 59.
The lodge president said game warden are specifically concerned with the safety of rifle fire at night, the excess number of shots fired calls it will require law enforcement to respond to, the possibility of deer poaching and the night vision equipment giving hunters an advantage that no longer constitutes fair chase.
Whether it’s in neighborhoods like the one near Stoll Memorial Park where Rob Johns lives or out in the woods at dusk or dawn, chances are you’ve seen or at least heard a coyote.
“We’ve seen them walking right down the middle of the street,” the Overland Park resident said.
“You definitely hear them they are every single direction multiple of them howling,” hunter Zach Legg said.
Kansas Department of Wildlife Research Biologist Matt Peet said coyote populations have been steadily increasing in the state since the 1980s.
“In certain instances they can be detrimental to livestock and pets,” Peet said.
The new Night Vision Equipment Permit for coyote hunting will be valid beginning Jan. 1, 2021, and can be purchased for $2.50. Until then, hunters must observe all current laws and regulations pertaining to the use of special equipment and hunting coyotes.
“You can’t hunt at night for any other species, so there would be some people who would be upset, but I think it’s easier if you have the right equipment,” Legg said.
Addressing the concerns raised to commissioners before the vote, Peek said almost every other state in the Midwest has been able to have night hunting without additional issues.
“The rules of hunter education still apply,” Peek said. “That is know your target and what lies beyond it or don’t take the shot.”
Peek said the Jan. 1 through March 31 coyote night hunting season will allow game wardens to get through deer rifle season and take off some of the extra burden.
Even if they might be migrating toward his and other neighborhoods, Johns said that’s no reason to kill them.
“They are being displaced from their natural habitat, so I kind of feel like they should have an opportunity to coexist peacefully until they become a problem,” he said.
One of the only other area states that doesn’t allow this right now is Missouri, but a similar proposal will be voted on there next month.