Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism
|Headquarters||1020 S. Kansas
|Parent agency||State of Kansas|
The Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks, and Tourism (KDWPT) is a state cabinet-level agency led by a Secretary of Wildlife and Parks appointed by the Governor of Kansas. The Office of the Secretary is located in Topeka, the state capital of Kansas. A seven-member, bipartisan commission, also appointed by the Governor, advises the Secretary and approves regulations governing outdoor recreation and fish and wildlife resources in Kansas. KDWPT employs approximately 420 full-time employees in five divisions: Executive Services, Administrative Services, Fisheries and Wildlife, Law Enforcement, and Parks. At full staffing, KDWPT Law Enforcement Division (Kansas Game Wardens) is staffed by 83 positions.
Fish and game laws were first organized in the state of Kansas in the form of the Kansas Fish and Game Department in 1905. In 1911, State Fish and Game Department was placed under supervision of the University of Kansas Board of Regents. Another reorganization occurred in 1925 when the Fish and Game Department became the Kansas Forestry, Fish and Game Commission, consisting of three members appointed by the Governor. In 1978, the Forestry part was dropped from the name. The agency became known as the Kansas Fish and Game Commission. Finally in 1987, Governor Mike Hayden signed an executive order merging the State Parks and Resources Authority and the Kansas Fish and Game Commission to form the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks. On July 1, 2011, the Division of Travel and Tourism was officially transferred from the Department of Commerce to the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks. The agency is currently known as the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks, and Tourism.
The Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks, and Tourism (KDWPT) is responsible for the following state parks:
KDWPT is responsible for the following nature preserves and fishing lakes:
KDWPT is responsible for patrolling all counties in Kansas:
KDWPT employs a number of Kansas Game Wardens (Law Enforcement Division), who are fully certified and commissioned state law enforcement officers, stationed across the state in numerous locations. These Wardens patrol their counties enforcing state law. They specialize in fish/game and boating law enforcement but also routinely deal with other violations that they may encounter. They have full authority to enforce all state statutes and have statewide jurisdiction. Many times KDWPT Game Wardens work with other law enforcement agencies such as the Kansas Highway Patrol and local sheriff or police departments.
Game Wardens are usually issued the .45 Auto Glock 21 as the sidearm of choice for the agency. In 2010, the department began issuing the Wardens AR-15 patrol rifles manufactured by Stag Arms, in .223 caliber. Prior to 2010, they were issued military loan/leased M-14 rifles in .308 caliber.
The Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism made international headlines when game warden Tanner Dixson shot an illegally kept pet deer five times and killed it in front of the family who had cared for it for the past 22 months. Taryn Mcgaughey, who cared for Faline the illegally kept deer with her parents, Mark and Kim Mcgaughey, filmed the incident. The video of the Mcgaughey's illegally kept pet callously being slaughtered by Dixson outraged people around the world and resulted in petitions demanding that Tanner Dixson be terminated. However, the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism took no action against Tanner Dixson. KDWPT does not recommend breaking the law, doing such will prevent situations like this from happening.
In February 2017, the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks, and Tourism made national headlines again when Game Warden Lynn Koch fired his .45 caliber handgun at the antlers of two buck deer that were entangled together by their antlers to successfully free them. Both deer were saved and this lifesaving action was videoed on a body camera worn by Warden Koch. The video was shared by numerous social media and news outlets.
On August 30, 2017, the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks, and Tourism (KDWPT) deployed a fourteen-man team of Game Wardens to Texas to assist with water rescues after hurricane Harvey struck the state. The wardens were equipped with a mobile command trailer and seven boats. Several successful voluntary evacuations were conducted during the deployment.
- Executive Staff Accessed 3 April 2009
- Darton, N.H. 1916. Guidebook of the Western United States: Part C - The Santa Fe Route, With a Side Trip to Grand Canyon of the Colorado. U.S. Geological Survey. Bulletin 613, 194 pp. (See Plate 3-A)
- State of Kansas. "About KDWP". Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks. Retrieved 19 September 2009.
- State of Kansas. "Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks Timeline". Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks. Retrieved 27 March 2008.
- Pearce, M., Kansas family’s illegally kept pet deer shot by game warden, The Wichita Eagle, January 4, 2017
- Pearce, M., After the illegally kept pet deer is killed by game warden, state works to improve policy, The Wichita Eagle, January 12, 2017