Game Laws.When the first white settlers came to Kansas they found game, both large and small, in abundance. Herds of buffalo and antelope roamed over the plains; deer, wild turkey and an occasional elk were to be found in the woody country; wild geese and ducks often stopped for awhile in Kansas in their migrations; in the brakes and along the streams lived large numbers of rabbits, quails, snipes, plovers, etc. In those early days the rifle was depended on to a large extent to furnish the supply of meat for the family. So plentiful were the game animals and birds that little or no thought was given to their protection until after the state was admitted into the Union.
The act of May 10, 1861, made it unlawful "to shoot, kill or trap, within the limits of the state, any prairie chicken, quails, partridges, wild turkey and deer between the first day of April and September of each year," and imposed a fine of $5 or less for each violation of the law. Justices of the peace were given jurisdiction for the enforcement of the provisions of the act. This was the first game law passed by the legislature of the State of Kansas.
As time passed and game grew scarcer, more stringent laws were passed for the protection of game animals and birds. In 1871 the California quail was placed under legal protection. The act of 1897 imposed penalties upon railroad companies for shipping game out of the state during the closed season. The act of March 11, 1903, made it unlawful to kill quail or prairie chicken in certain counties of the state for a period of three years. On Feb. 18, 1905, Gov. Hoch approved an act authorizing him to appoint a state fish and game warden for a term of four years, whose duty it should be to take charge of the fish hatchery (q. v.) and carry out the provisions of law regarding the propagation of game and food fish in the waters of the state. To assist him in the discharge of this duty, the warden was directed to appoint one or more deputies.
The law of 1905 was repealed by the act of Feb. 28, 1911, which reënacted, however, a number of the provisions of former laws. The office of fish and game warden was continued, the term of office to be for four years, the annual salary to be $2,000, and the warden was placed under the supervision of the regents of the University of Kansas. The warden was authorized to appoint one or more deputies in each county of the state, in which ten resident taxpayers might request him to do so, and the warden and his deputies were given power to arrest any person caught in the act of violating the law. A license fee of $1 was required from every resident of the state before he would be allowed to hunt, and non-residents were required to pay $15, for such privilege, all licenses to expire at the close of the fiscal years in which they were issued. Every person thus licensed was also required to carry his license with him while hunting, and to show it to the warden, deputy warden, or other officer upon demand.
The open season, that is the season in which game birds or animals might be killed, was as follows: For squirrels, from Sept. 1 to Jan. 1; fur-bearing animals, Nov. 15 to March 15; wild geese, ducks and brants, Sept. 1 to April 15; snipe, Sept. 1 to April 30; grouse or prairie chicken, Oct. 1 to Nov. 1; plover, Aug. 1 to April 30; quail. Nov. 15 to Dec. 1. No game bird was to be shot at or killed while sitting on the ground or in the water, unless wounded, and none was to be killed earlier than one hour before sunrise nor later than one hour after sunset. The number of birds that could be killed in any one day was limited to 12 snipe, prairie chicken, wild ducks, quail or plover, and 6 wild geese or brant. Beaver, otter, deer and antelope could not be killed or trapped in any manner for a period of ten years from the passage of the act.
Owners of farms, orchards or gardens were not prevented by the act from killing bluejays, owls, hawks, crows, blackbirds or other destructive birds, but it was made unlawful for any person to kill, destroy or take into captivity any eagle, or to destroy the nest or eggs of any wild bird or to have such nest or eggs in his possession except under certain conditions.
Section 20 of the act provided that "It shall be unlawful for any person to catch, take, or attempt to catch or take, from any lake, pond, river, creek, stream or other waters within or bordering on this state, any fish by any means or in any manner except by rod and line and fishhook; provided, that not more than one hook shall he used on such line; and provided further, that no person shall use more than one trot-line at any one time, and that no trot-line shall have attached to it more than 25 hooks; provided further, that no trot-line shall be set within 300 yards of a dam or within 200 yards of the mouth of any creek or river; and provided further, that this section shall not be deemed to prohibit the catching of fish in the creeks, rivers, ponds and lakes of this state by means of a seine having a mesh which stretches not less than three inches; and provided further, that if any fish are caught less than three pounds in weight by means of any seine it shall be unlawful to injure or take said fish away, but they shall be thrown back into the water."
Seines could not be used, however, from April 15 to June 15, nor from Dec. 15 to March 15, and owners of seines were required to secure a permit from the warden and give bond that they would be used according to law. The warden was authorized to seize and destroy all nets, traps, etc., used in violation of the act. For violation of any of the provisions of the law the offender should be fined not less than $5 nor more than $25 for the first offense; not less than $50 nor more than $200 for the second offense; and not less than $100 nor more than $500 for the third and each subsequent offense, and should be committed to the county jail until fine and cost of prosecution might be paid.
Railroad companies, or other common carriers, were prohibited from shipping any game birds, except upon a permit from the warden, but nothing n the law prevented the taking of fish or game for propagation or scientific purposes.Pages 706-708 from volume I of Kansas: a cyclopedia of state history, embracing events, institutions, industries, counties, cities, towns, prominent persons, etc. ... / with a supplementary volume devoted to selected personal history and reminiscence. Standard Pub. Co. Chicago : 1912. 3 v. in 4. : front., ill., ports.; 28 cm. Vols. I-II edited by Frank W. Blackmar. Transcribed May 2002 by Carolyn Ward.
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