The Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife says it’s time to expand the area in which bears can be hunted in the state by about 20 percent.
They say the state’s bear population is large enough to expand bear hunting. The proposal is opposed by the U.S. Humane Society. They believe the state is using inaccurate numbers.
Kentucky Fish and Wildlife officials estimate there are between 500 and 700 bears in the state, but the Humane Society says there are just 350.
Officials also want to increase the quota for bears that can be killed each year from 25 to 35 and lengthen the times of year during which bears can be hunted or chased by dogs.
State Bear Coordinator Steven Dobey says that the revised hunting regulations are based on a need to keep the growing population in check.
“It helps us to control population growth, a lot of people have issues with bears there’s a lot of human-bear conflict.”
Kentucky’s bear population is separated into two regions: the Big South Fork population in South Central Kentucky and the eastern Kentucky population.
Wendy Keefover with the U.S. Humane Society says the Big South Fork population is especially vulnerable to expanded hunting because there are only about 38 bears, according to their numbers.
“All those bears, the entire quota could come from the Big South Fork population, there’s nothing to prevent that.”
The new regulation received initial approval by a legislative committee earlier this week and will have to be reviewed by the legislature’s Natural Resources committee.