FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) - Black bears, legally protected in
Kentucky, have been flaunting their invulnerability by frightening
tourists, making brazen raids on cabins and pilfering food all over
the state's Appalachian region.
"They have no fear," said Rick Allen, president of the League
of Kentucky Sportsmen, who is proposing giving hunters a go at the
pesky animals that he believes could number 1,000 or more.
"Without a hunting season, there's no way to put a fear of humans
Despite widespread complaints, a state wildlife committee shot
down a proposal Thursday for a hunting season. Committee chairman
Doug Hensley said such a decision needs to wait at least until next
year when biologists are expected to have a better idea of how many
bears live in the expansive mountain region.
Anecdotal evidence suggests a healthy bear population. For
example, biologists collected 350 hair samples from barbed wire
fencing over the summer. They had reports of more than 20 bears run
over by motorists in the past two years. And four bears were found
shot this year.
Wildlife officers have received complaints of bears chasing
tourists away from campsites, eating from backyard trash cans and
stealing honey from beehives. And at a state park near Prestonsburg
last month, a bear held tourists at bay inside a cabin until
rangers arrived to chase it away.
Mark Marraccini, spokesman for the Kentucky Department of Fish
and Wildlife Resources, said the bear tried for several minutes to
break into the cabin before giving up and going to sleep right
outside the door.