By MIKE CORN
Proposed legislation allowing mountain lions and wolves to be shot on sight has "no chance" of passing, according to the bill's chief sponsor.
"As it's written, no chance," Rep. Mitch Holmes, R-St. John, said Wednesday.
As a result, he's holding out something of an olive branch, hoping to hammer out a compromise that the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks can accept.
Holmes and KDWP were supposed to meet Thursday afternoon to talk about the bill, but it's doubtful that much common ground can be found.
Since 1904, there have only been two KDWP-confirmed cases of mountain lions being found in Kansas. One was late last year in Trego County, northwest of WaKeeney.
All the other sightings have been summarily dismissed by the agency, much to the chagrin of hunters, homeowners and Holmes.
The introduction of the bill that would allow unregulated hunting of lions and wolves set off a firestorm of activity, and brought strong opposition from KDWP.
Because there's no season, it's illegal to kill lions -- other than to protect life or property.
"The only way one can be killed is in defense of yourself, your family and your property," said Chris Tymeson, chief counsel for KDWP and the point man for presenting the agency's perspective on pending legislation.
If that happens, however, they're prohibited from keeping the carcass.
"You can always protect yourself," he said. "That doesn't appear to be the issue. What appears to be the issue is if people can keep the hide."
Tymeson appears to be unbending in his opposition to allowing unregulated hunting of lions.
"My response was the commission could open up a season if they wanted, and they haven't done so," he said of the appointed board that sets seasons for hunting Kansas wildlife. "It appears that the issue is retaining the carcass. If that's the issue, I don't think that's good public policy."
As far as wolves, Tymeson said, they are protected by federal law.
Holmes said he wasn't aware of the federal protection for wolves, and is aware that will need to be cut from the bill. Wolves have been gone from Kansas since the 1880s.
He does, however, want the law opened up so that people who see mountain lions on their land or in their yard can kill them.
"And keep the results," he said. "The carcass is an incentive to the hunter."
The lion issue is personal for Holmes, a computer programmer who raises pigs near St. John.
A couple years ago, he said, one was killed, and a lion was blamed because of the size of the wounds on the market-ready pig. The pen was about 150 yards from his home.
"I have children, so yeah, I'm concerned about them coming up that close," he said.
Since then, he's heard other reports of lion sightings, including one that was reportedly on a woman's porch, nose-to-nose with her dog.
"When they're that bold, I think we need to start paying attention," Holmes said.
While Holmes dismisses the notion that the bill will pass in its current form, he's not willing to give up just yet.
"If we can't get it through this year, we'll revisit it next year," he said.