FRANKFORT, Ky. (WKYT) - Hunters are getting their bows ready and taking aim at a new target this weekend.
"We have increased opportunity for folks wanting to hunt bears in Kentucky. There is now an archery and crossbow season in November. That's totally new," said Steven Dobey, Bear Program Coordinator for the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife.
The season starts on Saturday, November 23rd, and will run for nine days, that is unless the hunters hit their marks early and often.
"Nine days or until our quota of ten bears or five females is met. If we meet the quota at the end of day two, then the season is closed on day three," Dobey explained, "We have set this quota in place such that it's a conservative number, and we may very well go over that and that's okay."
He adds that if the numbers exceed the quota, the bear population can sustain the "harvest," because in Kentucky the bear population is seeing growth. However, this is not an eradication.
"Bait cannot be used to hunt bears in Kentucky," cautioned Dobey, laying out other rules to the brief season, "Folks are required (to) call in and electronically check-in these animals so we have an electronic record of every bear. We will physically check those bears and that's for the purpose of collecting biological data, retrieving any radio collars."
He allows that hunting may not be for everyone, but it is necessary.
"Generally bear hunting does receive some negative input from the general public, just because throughout eternity bears are portrayed as these cuddly teddy bears," Dobey started before adding, "It generally relies on hunting to control population levels."
This season is set so late in the year as an effort to target male bears and protect the females which are likely in dens by this time of year.
The rifle season for hunting bears begins on December 14th but only runs three days because the rifles are more effective. The Department of Fish and Wildlife said they give out more than 500 bear hunting permits annually. Last year the largest bear on record was killed, weighing in at 410-pounds.