The Kentucky Fish and Wildlife commission unanimously approved a bear hunting season in three eastern Kentucky counties. The two-day season is planned for December 2009.
Kentucky Fish and Wildlife officials say years of extensive studies indicate parts of eastern Kentucky are ready for a limited bear season.
In the past few years, commission member Doug Hensley says biologists have found more and more black bears are coming into our region from surrounding states.
“We've got all the information that we need to document a limited season. Now the only way to really tell is to have a season,” says Doug Hensley, Kentucky Fish & Wildlife Commission.
The commission proposed a two-day hunt for only male black bears in Pike, Letcher and Harlan Counties.
Only a total of ten bears can be taken during that time - with the Hensley-Pine Mountain Wildlife Management Area and Kingdom Come State Park off limits to hunters.
“If we kill ten bears the first day, guess what? We'll have a bigger season the next year. If we kill five bears in two days then we may take it easy. It will tell us what to do in the future,” says Hensley.
The idea is already being met with opposition from animal rights groups like the Humane Society of the United States which claims the bear population in our region isn't big enough to sustain a hunting season.
But wildlife officials say male bears hunting for their own space here is a problem.
“They are very territorial, black bears are and a lot of times they'll go on a territory and they keep getting run out by bigger bears,” says Hensley.
With that in mind wildlife officials say black bears need to be left alone. They also stress feeding or leaving anything edible outside your home - whether it's trash or even pet food - could pose a great risk to you and the bears.
“Don't feed the bears. All your doing when your doing that is signing their death warrant,” says Hensley.
Wildlife officials say they chose December for the hunt because that's a time when female bears and their cubs stay in dens.