The ARRS committee of the KY state legislature met today to discuss, among other things, Kentucky Division of Fish & Wildlife Resources’ proposal to increase bear hunting tags and seasons in the state. Committee member Tommy Turner welcomed General Counsel David Wicker, biologist Steven Dobey and others who appeared on behalf of Fish & Wildlife. Dobey stated that the bear population has increased since the first bear season in 2009 to 500-700. He said the proposal would increase the cap on bagged bears to 35. Wicker said the season would end if/when that total was hunted.
Kathryn Callahan, new HSUS state director, read a statement on behalf of HSUS. She stated that Dobey had previously given much smaller numbers as estimates for bear populations in the state. The main populations fall into two groups: those in the southern Big South Fork area and those in the eastern part of the state. She said the bears do not need to be hunter earlier, in a bigger area or with hounds, and she asked the committee to find the proposed regulation deficient. Doug Morgan, Kentucky Houndsmen, Ed Morris, League of Kentucky Sportsmen, Chet Hayes, Fifth Federation and Robin Webb, a legislator, all gave support to Fish & Wildlife’s plan. Hayes took the opportunity to criticize HSUS, but Co-chair Marzian politely returned the discussion to the issue at hand.
The proposal passed the committee, but, as it must still go before the Natural Resource Committee, no final decision was made on the regulation today.