Snow Storm Tackles Kentucky Bear Hunt

Kentucky Fish & Wildlife, Bear Hunting Magazine

The Kentucky Fish and Wildlife Department has released that at this point, no bear were taken over the weekend during the first bear hunt in Kentucky in over one hundred years. The snow that fell discouraged the chances of hunters, but they did not feel that this would put a damper on future hunts in the state.

This coming Saturday Kentucky hunters will take part in the first bear hunt in modern times. The hunt will take place in Harlan, Letcher and Pike counties. The hunt is open to any Kentucky resident who purchases a bear hunting permit in addition to an annual hunting license, unless license exempt.

The population has shown phenomenal growth from only a decade ago, said Steven Dobey, bear program coordinator for the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources. Weve been monitoring this population and have been involved in research with the University of Kentucky for almost 10 years. Based on our research efforts, its clear that Kentuckys bear population can support a sustainable harvest.

Black bears were nearly absent from Kentucky for about 150 years after intensive logging in the 19th century took away much of their habitat. They gradually made their way back to southeastern Kentucky from Virginia, West Virginia and Tennessee as oak-hickory forests matured once again. Kentuckys bear numbers grew over time, as did public interest in a bear hunting season.

The other driving force in this first bear season has been public interest and support from sporting organizations in Kentucky, Dobey said. In particular, the League of Kentucky Sportsmen played an important role in making this bear season a reality.

This season is particularly exciting because black bears are the first species to repopulate naturally in Kentucky, said Rick Allen, president of the League of Kentucky Sportsmen. Im glad to see this season become a reality for Kentuckys sportsmen and sportswomen.

The bear harvest is limited to 10 bears total or five female bears, whichever limit hunters reach first. Most female bears are already denned at this time of year, which will limit the number of females available for harvest. Hunters must call Kentucky Fish and Wildlifes general information number at 1-800-858-1549 after 9 p.m. Dec. 19 to check if the harvest quota has been reached. If the quota has not yet been reached, the hunt will continue on Dec. 20 only.

The bag limit is one bear per hunter. Successful hunters must take their bear to one of the check-in stations set up in each of the open counties. Locations are listed at the departments webpage online at, or hunters may call 1-800-858-1549 during regular weekday business hours prior to the hunt for check-in station locations. Kentucky Fish and Wildlife biologists will weigh the bears, take body measurements and biological samples for research, and attach a permanent tag to each harvested animal. Hunters must also Telecheck their bear before leaving the check station.

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