Wildlife biologist believes Kansans should be able to hunt in their own areas.
Logan Shoup, District Wildlife Biologist, has officially been on the job with Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism for six months, working out of a FEMA trailer at Texas Lake west of Pratt. But he has spent the bulk of his life so far enjoying the great outdoors and finding a way to share it with others. To that end, he is a big proponent of Walk In Hunting Acres, known as WIHA.
At a Pratt Lions Club meeting last Wednesday, he explained his passion for hunting and how sharing it with others is a win-win situation.
Shoup graduated from Pratt High School in 2007, went to college in Michigan, then worked in the Nebraska Wildlife Department doing quail surveys and crow counts on several types of game birds.
"My priorities here are to develop research, create habitat and promote hunting access so we can maintain and grow the level of wildlife conservation and natural landscape we have here in south central Kansas," Shoup said.
Those priorities lead him to do many types of surveys, putting miles on his truck as he covers an area including Stafford, Pawnee, Pratt, Barber and Comanche counties.
"Basically I cover everything from Stafford and Pawnee south to the state line," he said.
Shoup is well-versed in pheasant populations, crow counts, Prairie Chicken lek routes and even jack rabbit habitats, but his passion revolves around working with area farmers and ranchers to join the Walk In Hunting Acres program through the Kansas Wildlife Department.
"Kansas land is 99 percent privately owned," Shoup said. "With all the guide hunting and gun clubs taking up big money for out-of-state hunters, it is really tough for the local person to find places to hunt anymore."
By joining WIHA, Shoup said local farmers can receive payments and regular hunters can enjoy their own areas, a boost to local economies and a help to broaden the understanding of the necessity of hunting to create a viable and lasting habitat for wildlife.
"Average people just don't understand or care anymore about how many quail are nesting in an area or if wind turbines and chemical farming are reducing game bird populations," he said. "My job is all about creating connections and building relationships with landowners to protect our wildlife and preserve the beauty we have here in rural Kansas."
Shoup said building habitat and seeing birds move in was one of the most satisfying aspects of his job as a wildlife biologist, but he also enjoys hunting all types of game and land management, particularly during burning season.
"It's always really exciting to take part in prescribed burns," he said. "It's just another effective habitat and land management tool, but I never get tired of it."
Shoup can be reached by email at email@example.com for more information about WIHA and other KDWPT habitat programs.