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New Kentucky bear hunting regulations proposed

FRANKFORT, Ky. — The Kentucky Fish and Wildlife Commission proposed several new bear hunting regulations at its March quarterly meeting.

The commission recommends all hunting, fishing and boating regulations for approval by the General Assembly. Legislators must approve all recommendations before they become law.

In bear-related business, the commission recommended adjusting bear hunting zones and seasons:

· Break Zone 1 into individual counties with their own quota (Bell, Harlan, Letcher and McCreary).

· Subdivide Zone 2 into an east and west zone.

· Move modern gun season in Bell, Harlan, Letcher and McCreary Zones and Zone 2 (both east and west) to the second Saturday in December.

· Move the quota bear hunt with dogs back to the third Monday in October for 14 consecutive days.

· Eliminate Zone 3 muzzleloader hunt and establish a modern gun season, opening the second Saturday in December for seven consecutive days.

In other bear-related business, the commission recommended bear season dates and harvest quotas for each zone:

The 2019 bear season dates:

· Chase season (all zones but McCreary): July 1 – Aug. 31; Sept. 9 – 30

· Bell, Harlan and Letcher Zones: Hunting with the assistance of dogs: Oct. 21 – Nov. 3; Archery: Oct. 26 – Nov. 1; Gun: Dec. 14 – 20

· McCreary Zone: Archery: Oct. 21 – Nov 1; Gun: Dec. 14 – 20; (Dog season closed in McCreary Zone). Public land in McCreary County is now open to bear hunting, except in the Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area.

· West Zone 2, East Zone 2: Hunting with the assistance of dogs: Oct. 21 – Nov. 3; Archery: Oct. 26 – Nov. 1; Gun: Dec. 14 – 20

· Zone 3: Hunting with the assistance of dogs: Oct. 21 – Nov. 3; Dec. 14 – Dec. 20 (Archery season closed in Zone 3)

Harvest Quotas: Under these proposed regulations, the commission removed quotas for male bears, but set limits on the number of female bears that could be harvested by method in each zone.

· McCreary Zone: Two female bears: one by archery and one by modern gun.

· Bell Zone: Five female bears: one by hunting with the assistance of dogs, two by archery and two by gun.

· Harlan Zone: Six female bears: two by hunting with the assistance of dogs, two by archery and two by gun.

· Letcher Zone: Six female bears: two by hunting with the assistance of dogs, two by archery and two by gun.

· West Zone 2: Seven female bears: two by hunting with the assistance of dogs, two by archery and three by gun.

· East Zone 2: Seven female bears: two by hunting with the assistance of dogs, two by archery and three by gun.

· Zone 3: Three female bears: one by hunting with the assistance of a dog and two by gun.

The commission also proposed several other bear-related regulations:

· Remove the landowner restrictions around the Pine Mountain bear sanctuary.

· Allow hunters to use lesser weapons such as archery equipment, crossbows or muzzleloaders during modern gun bear season.

· Modifying the bear hunting with the assistance of dogs language to say a person shall only harvest a bear using a legal weapon with the assistance of unleashed dogs actively pursuing, chasing, baying or treeing the bear prior to harvest. They also added a list of approved dog breeds or crosses of those breeds for the bear hunting with the assistance of dogs season.

· Remove the bear chase survey requirement and the time window to buy a bear chase permit.

· Prohibit the use of telemetry equipment to locate or hunt bears.

The Kentucky Fish and Wildlife Commission next meets in June. The department posts finalized meeting agendas online at fw.ky.gov. Video replays of past meetings of committees and the full commission are posted online via the “Commission and Committee Meeting Archive” link on the department’s homepage.