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The Kentucky Fish and Wildlife Commission has recommended expanding modern gun season for deer to 16 days statewide, increasing the number of deer allowed on a statewide permit from two to four, and increasing some license and permit fees for non-residents.

The proposals were among multiple recommendations to deer, waterfowl and migratory bird seasons made by commission members at their March 23 meeting in Frankfort.

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

The changes recommended by commission members are designed to help thin the state’s deer herd in more densely populated areas while boosting numbers where deer populations are lower than desired. Changes also will boost many opportunities for hunters.

All deer-related regulations will go into effect for the 2018-2019 seasons, if approved by legislators. Click the “details” link for more information on each change.

Deer-related recommendations approved by the commission include:

  • Creating an antlerless-only modern gun hunt during the last weekend of September in Zone 1 counties. (details)
  • Expanding the modern gun deer season to 16 days statewide. (details)
  • Modifying the statewide deer permit from a two-deer limit to four deer (details), and the youth deer permit from a one-deer limit to four deer. (details) Hunters would still be limited to one antlered deer statewide, regardless of zone or method.
  • Changing the following counties from Zone 2 to Zone 1: Union, Henderson, McLean, Muhlenberg, Todd, Mercer, Mason and Hart. (details)
  • Changing the following counties from Zone 3 to Zone 2: Warren, Allen, Monroe, Barren, Metcalfe, Adair, Edmonson, Butler, Breckinridge, Meade, Hancock, Daviess, Taylor, Casey, Lincoln, Boyle, Madison, Clark, Montgomery and Bath. (details)
  • Changing the following counties from Zone 4 to Zone 3: Garrard, Pulaski, Wayne and Laurel. (details)
  • Allowing hunters to take only one antlerless deer with a firearm in Zone 3. (details)
  • Setting a Zone 4 season bag limit of two deer, consisting of one antlered and one antlerless deer. Antlerless deer could only be taken during youth gun seasons, during archery and crossbow seasons, or the last three days of the December muzzleloader season. (details)
  • Allowing hunters to take a bag limit of deer in each zone, independent of the other zone’s bag limits. (details)
  • Modifying the additional deer permit from a two-deer limit to 15 deer. Hunters would still be limited to one antlered deer statewide, regardless of zone or method. (details)
  • Prohibiting devices designed to entangle and trap the antlers of a deer. (details)
  • Creating a special deer hunt program that would allow modern gun hunts for deer outside of the normal season. This would only apply to nonprofit conservation organizations working under Kentucky Fish and Wildlife’s recruitment, retention and re-activation guidelines. (details)
  • Allowing a person to use an unlimited number of deer control tags. The current limit is five tags. (details)
  • Removing the requirement to sign a deer control tag at the time of transfer from landowner to hunter. (details)
  • Requiring the hunter to sign a deer control tag at the time of harvest. (details)

Commission members also took several steps at their meeting to simplify some waterfowl regulations and to increase opportunities for hunters. Waterfowl regulations will go into effect for the 2018-2019 seasons, if approved by legislators. Recommendations include:

  • Increasing the northern pintail daily bag limit from one bird to two for the 2018-2019 duck seasons. (details)
  • Changing Northeast Goose Zone season dates to correspond to the statewide goose seasons. (details)
  • Removing the September closure for goose hunting in the Northeast Goose Zone and the West-Central Goose Zone. (details)

Commissioners also made several recommendations affecting Sloughs Wildlife Management Area (WMA) in Henderson and Union counties. These include:

  • Allowing expanded waterfowl quota hunts on the Sauerheber Unit. (details)
  • Removing blind site hunting restrictions on the Sauerheber Unit. (details)
  • Developing a check-in system for quota hunt participants on the Sauerheber Unit. (details)
  • Creating a lottery for unclaimed blinds or hunt sites on the Sauerheber Unit (details) and removing the ability to occupy unclaimed blinds. (details)
  • Creating a quota hunt for the Jenny Hole Unit, with spots allocated by a weekly drawing. (details)
  • Closing the Jenny Hole Unit to waterfowl hunting, except for quota hunt participants. (details)
  • Prohibiting boat use on the Jenny Hole Unit from Thanksgiving Day to the last Sunday in January, except for quota hunt participants during limited hours. (details)

Recommendations affecting Ballard WMA in western Kentucky include:

  • Removing the requirement to hunt from a blind in the Ballard Zone. (details)
  • Mandating that hunters accurately report waterfowl harvest on their harvest cards. (details)

Commission members proposed several changes to the existing regulations governing sandhill crane hunting. These would expand hunting opportunities and establish a second refugee area on public property. Proposals include:

  • Changing the sandhill crane quota hunt application period from late November to the month of September to align it with quota hunt application periods of other game species. (details)
  • Increasing the number of sandhill crane permits and tags issued. (details)
  • Lengthening the sandhill crane season and increasing the statewide bag limit. (details)
  • Allowing hunters to take more than two birds in a season, if they have the required number of tags. (details)
  • Requiring participants to buy a hunting license by Sept. 30 to be eligible for a permit. (details)
  • Establishing a new refuge for roosting birds by closing portions of Green River Lake to sandhill crane hunting. (details)

In fisheries-related business, the commission proposed new fishing regulations for Rockcastle River WMA in Pulaski County. These include a daily creel limit of 10 bluegill or other sunfish, four catfish, 15 crappie and one largemouth bass that must be greater than 15 inches long.

Commissioners also recommended adding mooneye and goldeye to the restricted movement list of fish species to help blunt the spread of Asian carp into new waterbodies.

The commission also proposed changing some non-resident license and permit fees. (details)

The next regularly scheduled Kentucky Fish and Wildlife Commission meeting will be 8:30 a.m. (Eastern time), Friday, June 8, 2018. Meetings are held at Kentucky Fish and Wildlife headquarters, located at 1 Sportsman’s Lane off U.S. 60 in Frankfort.

The Kentucky Fish and Wildlife Commission will meet in Frankfort for a special called session at 8:30 a.m. (Eastern time) Jan. 6 to discuss proposed changes to the state’s elk regulations.

Items on the agenda for discussion include:

  • Compress or reduce the elk season;
  • Eliminate elk hunting in January;
  • Establish a regulation to eliminate elk hunting during deer season;
  • Establish a regulation to mandate a minimum bull size of 3 points on one side;
  • Establish a regulation to mandate wounding an elk ends that hunt if the animal is not successfully retrieved. Convicted hunters get substantial penalties, plus lose the right to hunt elk. Guides lose guide license for 10 years;
  • Establish a wanton waste regulation for elk, deer and bear with substantial penalties;
  • Establish a regulation to establish refuge (no hunting) areas at tourist/viewing areas;
  • Requests for management and data collection plans to be developed by the Department for Commission Discussion;
  • Meet in executive session if necessary.

Kentucky Fish and Wildlife Commission meetings are open for the public. Sessions are conducted at the Arnold Mitchell Building on the main campus of the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources. Kentucky Fish and Wildlife headquarters is located at 1 Sportsman’s Lane (formerly 1 Game Farm Road) in Frankfort. The entrance is located off U.S. 60, approximately 1½ miles west of U.S. 127.

whooping%20cranesWith sandhill crane hunting season opening the third weekend in December, the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources is issuing its annual advisory to hunters to watch out for federally protected whooping cranes.

The whooping crane is an endangered bird that may not be hunted. The Eastern Population of whooping cranes migrates between Wisconsin and Florida, with their main migration corridor taking them through west-central Kentucky. There are 107 whooping cranes known in this population.

Wildlife biologists have confirmed the presence of six whooping cranes in Hopkins County. In previous years, whooping cranes have also been sighted in several other locations, including Barren County.

Kentucky’s sandhill crane hunting season begins Dec. 17 and continues through Jan. 15. The season will end sooner if the quota of 400 birds is taken prior to Jan. 15. Hunters who have applied for this quota hunt and been drawn to participate must successfully complete an online sandhill crane identification course before they can receive a permit.

Whooping cranes are solid white with black wingtips. They have a red crown. Adults may have a wingspan of 7½ feet and stand up to 5 feet tall on stilted legs. Juvenile birds are similar to the adults, but will have patches of brown or tan mixed in with the white.

Whooping cranes are similar in silhouette to sandhill cranes. However, sandhill cranes have gray bodies and are smaller than whooping cranes. Whooping cranes may associate with sandhill cranes so caution must be used while hunting sandhill cranes.

Hunters should always be sure of their target before firing a gun, regardless of the species being hunted.

Hunters who illegally transport deer or elk carcasses into Kentucky from states infected with chronic wasting disease (CWD) risk prosecution.

Hunters must not bring whole deer or elk carcasses from infected states to taxidermists or processing operations in Kentucky.

CWD is a contagious and fatal neurological disease that affects deer, elk and other cervids native to North America. Currently, there is no evidence that CWD can be transmitted to humans.

Chronic wasting disease has been detected in 24 states, including Ohio, Arkansas, Michigan, Missouri, Illinois, West Virginia, Virginia and Pennsylvania. The disease has also been found in the Canadian provinces of Alberta and Saskatchewan.

Kentucky, which does not have the disease in its animals, prohibits the importation of whole carcasses or high-risk cervid parts such as the brain, spinal cord, eyes, lymphoid tissue from deer or elk killed in CWD–infected states and provinces.

Hunters may bring back deboned meat, hindquarters, antlers attached to a clean skull plate, a clean skull, clean teeth, hides and finished taxidermy products. To help prevent the entry of CWD into the state, the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources discourages hunters from bringing back high-risk parts of deer or elk taken in any state, regardless of CWD status.

Several proactive steps have been taken by Kentucky Fish and Wildlife, the Kentucky Department of Agriculture and captive cervid owners to prevent the introduction of the disease into the state.

Kentucky Fish and Wildlife monitors wild deer and elk herds while the Kentucky Department of Agriculture monitors the captive herds. Since 2002, Kentucky has tested more than 26,000 deer and elk for the presence of the disease. All results have been negative.

Regulations enacted to reduce the likelihood of CWD in Kentucky have included a ban on importation of live cervids from CWD-positive states, mandatory CWD monitoring of captive herds and prohibiting the importation of high-risk carcass parts from CWD-positive states into Kentucky.

This disease can persist in the environment and may be contracted from contaminated soil or vegetation or through contact with infected cervid parts. The movement of live animals, either through the captive deer trade or natural migration, is one of the greatest risk factors in spreading the disease to new areas.

kdfwr-logoKentucky is participating in a three-state effort to test white-tailed deer for the presence of bovine tuberculosis.

While bovine tuberculosis (TB) is an infectious disease that primarily affects cattle, it also can infect deer. The disease has not been detected in Kentucky’s deer herd.

Wildlife officials in Kentucky, Indiana and Ohio recently launched a joint monitoring effort for the disease after an infected deer was discovered in southeastern Indiana. The Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources will operate a check station in Boone County during the first two weekends of modern gun season for deer, Nov. 12-13 and Nov. 19-20, as part of that monitoring.

The department also will operate check stations in Bath, Nicholas and Fleming counties on those same weekends in a monitoring follow-up after the discovery of an infected cow in that area in 2010. Hunters will be asked to bring their deer by the check station so biologists can take tissue samples for testing.

Kentucky Fish and Wildlife Veterinarian Iga Stasiak said the state agencies intend to stop the disease from spreading further. “These efforts will help us determine whether or not bovine tuberculosis is present in our deer,” she said. “Participation in this effort may help ensure the long-term health and stability of wild deer populations in Kentucky.”

Testing will consist of collecting a few lymph nodes from the deer’s head. Hunters who wish to have their deer mounted can provide the name of the taxidermist so that arrangements can be made to collect samples from that location. The voluntary testing, which is designed to obtain samples from 500 deer from each of the two regions, is part of a joint monitoring effort by Kentucky Fish and Wildlife, the Indiana Department of Natural Resources and the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.

Kentucky’s check stations will be open from 8 a.m.-6 p.m. (Eastern) Nov 12-13, and during the same hours Nov 19-20. Locations include:

  • Boone County: Boone County Cooperative Extension office, 6028 Camp Ernst Road, Burlington, Ky.
  • Bath County: Bath County Cooperative Extension office, 2914 East U.S. 60, Owingsville, Ky.
  • Nicholas County: Nicholas County Cooperative Extension office, 268 East Main St., Carlisle, Ky.
  • Fleming County: Fleming County Cooperative Extension office, 1384 Elizaville Road, Flemingsburg, Ky.

Hunters outside of these areas can assist with the monitoring project as well. Hunters who see swollen lymph nodes, nodules in the lungs or chest cavity in any deer they are field dressing should report this to Kentucky Fish and Wildlife as soon as possible by calling 1-800-858-1549.

For more information, visit the bovine tuberculosis surveillance online site at