The Kentucky Fish and Wildlife Commission proposed several modifications to hunting and fishing regulations at its March quarterly meeting.

The commission recommends all hunting, fishing and boating regulations for approval by the General Assembly and approves all expenditures by the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources. All recommendations must be approved by legislators before they become law.

In wildlife-related business, the commission proposed to the General Assembly to extend black bear gun and archery/crossbow season from two days to three days. The proposed 2012 bear season would run from Dec. 8 through Dec. 10. In addition, Bell County would be added to the Bear Zone for the 2012 season. The harvest quota of 10 bears would remain unchanged.

Commissioners also voted to establish three separate seasons to allow hunters to chase bears with dogs. One of the seasons would allow hunters to take bears using dogs.

Commission members proposed the establishment of three zones in eastern Kentucky totaling nearly 109,000 acres for chasing bears. The East Bear Chase/Take Zone would encompass 19,584 acres in Letcher County while the Central Bear Chase/Take Zone would consist of 45,263 acres in Harlan County. The West Bear Chase/Take Zone would include 43,660 acres of public land within Bell County.

Groups could not exceed five hunters and eight dogs. Chase hours would be from one-half hour before sunrise to one-half hour after sunset. The first season proposed by commission members is an early chase-only season for black bears from Aug. 1 to Aug. 31. This season would only be open to residents who purchase an online $30 bear chase permit (youth bear permits are $10).

The commission also recommended a dog season for bear harvest that will only occur if the existing quota of 10 bears per season is not met. If the quota of 10 bears is met, this middle season would be a chase-only season. This proposed chase/take season would be open only to Kentucky residents who purchase an online bear chase permit for that year. The season would open the Monday after gun and archery season for bears concludes and continue for five days. The 2012 season would open Dec. 17 and close Dec. 21. The commission also proposed a 5-day late chase-only season for bears. In 2012, this season would open Dec. 24 and continue through Dec. 28.

In other wildlife-related business, the commission proposed allowing more flexibility to train bird dogs outside the current Dog Training Area Permit System.

Pen-reared bobwhite quail could be harvested for the purpose of dog training on private lands from August 15 through May 15. Individuals must be licensed and fill out an application to participate. They must possess proof of the sale/ownership of the birds or a captive wildlife permit for pen-reared bobwhite quail and make sure that the training area is free of wild quail. The pen-reared bobwhite quail must be banded.

We want to promote quail hunting and dog training and at the same time protect the wild resource, said Karen Waldrop, director of wildlife for Kentucky Fish and Wildlife.

The commission also recommended increasing the number of pen-reared birds an individual may possess for personal use without having a non-commercial captive wildlife permit.

In the final wildlife-related business, the commission proposed to hold a pheasant quota hunt on 6,775-acre Yellowbank WMA in Breckinridge County. This hunt is in addition to the quota pheasant hunts on Green River Lake WMA and Clay WMA.

In fisheries-related business, the commission recommended lowering the minimum size limit for striped bass on Lake Cumberland from 24 inches to 22 inches. This regulation could take effect in early summer if approved by legislators.

Commission members also proposed several additional changes to fisheries regulations. If approved by legislators, the changes would take effect on March 1, 2013. These include:

  • A protective slot limit for smallmouth and largemouth bass in Meade Countys Otter Creek. Anglers would have to immediately release all smallmouth and largemouth bass measuring between 12 to 16 inches. Anglers could keep six smallmouth or largemouth bass daily, but only one could be longer than 16 inches.
  • A 12-inch minimum size limit on channel catfish caught from Reformatory Lake in Oldham County, McNeely Lake in Jefferson County and Lake Reba in Madison County. A 5-year research project will commence on these lakes to determine if the minimum size limit on these lakes results in more and bigger channel catfish.
  • Allowing boaters to use gasoline boat motors at idle speed only on Goose, Island and South lakes on the Peabody Wildlife Management Area (WMA). Boaters currently may only use electric trolling motors.

The next regular Kentucky Fish and Wildlife Commission meeting will be held at 8 a.m. (Eastern time), Friday, June 1, at #1 Sportsmans Lane off U.S. 60 in Frankfort. Persons interested in addressing the commission must notify the Kentucky Fish and Wildlifes commissioners office in writing at least 30 days in advance to be considered for placement on the meeting agenda. People who are hearing impaired and plan to attend the meeting should contact Kentucky Fish and Wildlife at least 10 days in advance and the agency will provide a translator. To request to address the commission, write to Kentucky Fish and Wildlife, Commissioner Dr. Jon Gassett, #1 Sportsmans Lane, Frankfort, Kentucky, 40601.

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