FRANKFORT, Ky. - The Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources won an Agency of the Year award for achievements in deer conservation and management from the Quality Deer Management Association. The award is the association's highest national recognition.
"One hundred years ago, Kentucky had very few deer. Now we're one of the top deer hunting destinations in the country," said Kentucky Fish and Wildlife Commissioner Dr. Jon Gassett. "That would not have happened without the dedication and hard work of our employees throughout the years, and the hunters we depend on to help manage the herd. We are honored to receive this recognition as the top agency in the country."
The award, presented annually since 2003, goes to an agency that has a record of supporting the philosophy of quality deer management and the mission of the Quality Deer Management Association (QDMA). Kentucky Fish and Wildlife, which won the honor in 2004, is the first repeat winner.
"Kentucky Fish and Wildlife has worked very well with the public in Kentucky and engages hunters," said Kip Adams, QDMA's director of Education and Outreach. "They continue to implement new programs to keep all segments of hunting public involved, engaged and learning. They work really well with QDMA branches and other conservation organizations."
Kentucky has consistently ranked in the top 10 nationally for the number of deer recognized as trophies by the Boone and Crockett Club. In 2011, hunters took 68 Boone and Crockett deer in Kentucky, a new state record Adams noted that Kentucky offers over-the-counter deer permits for all residents and non-residents due to the success of its herd. Additionally, Kentucky has one of the more progressive antler restrictions within their state, using antler spread restriction in some public hunting areas to protect yearling bucks in parts of the state, which is more biologically sound than an antler point restriction.
The organization said Kentucky Fish and Wildlife has established itself as one of the most progressive, respected and successful wildlife agencies in the United States. The department is exemplary in service to their constituents and in management of their natural resources, particularly the white-tailed deer, according to the Quality Deer Management Association.
"They do a great job of protecting young bucks and moving them into older age classes," Adams said of the department. "They also do a great job of balancing their herd with the habitat through the appropriate number of antlerless tags."
The Quality Deer Management Association is a national nonprofit wildlife conservation organization which promotes sustainable, high-quality white-tailed deer populations, wildlife habitats and ethical hunting experiences. The group has more than 50,000 members across the United States and in several foreign countries. Its membership includes nearly 800 of the country's leading deer management professionals.