The department says Kentucky’s black bear population is growing.
The Humane Society of the United States is objecting to a proposed expansion of bear hunting in Kentucky. The group says the state’s black bear population is still small and needs time to expand.
“We have two very small populations of bears in Kentucky,” said Wendy Keefover, of the Humane Society of the United States. “They want to increase the hunting quota essentially by 10 bears. They should be augmenting the population rather than killing it.”
But officials with Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources say the number of bears in Kentucky has increased. The population can withstand an expansion of the hunt, they say.
“We are very responsible with the management of our wildlife species in this state,” said Karen Waldrop, a deputy commissioner with the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources. “We put a lot of work into our seasons and our quotas because we want to make sure we protect wildlife in Kentucky.”
Research studies estimate the Kentucky black bear population at slightly fewer than 350 bears. Black bears were once plentiful in Kentucky but through hunting and destruction of habitat, they were virtually eliminated from Kentucky by the early 1900s. The bears returned to Eastern Kentucky in the 1990s. Kentucky’s first hunt was in 2010.