Commissioner Tom Bennett
Inside Kentucky Fish and Wildlife...
Dear Hunters, Anglers and Wildlife Enthusiasts:
Kentucky deer, elk and wild turkey hunters will wrap up their most
successful seasons ever Monday with record harvests.
Large game archery season ends Monday. Simply put, deer, elk and
turkey hunters took advantage of more available opportunity in 2004
(days in the field) and harvested more animals than ever. Deer hunters
reported taking 123,702 this season, an increase of 7,162 over last
yearís record take.
Kentucky hunters are becoming effective herd managers as well. Does accounted
for nearly 52 percent of the harvest. It is precisely that type of selection
that produces a high quality herd and keeps population densities in check.
Wild turkey shotgun hunters used four extra days to increase the fall harvest
by 152 percent, and archers increased their take 56 percent as the 2004 take
bettered last season by almost 2,600 birds.
Thirty-eight of the 41 issued elk permits have been filled, including a new
state record bull killed by Rita Tharp, of Trimble County. Her bull scored 310
3/8. Legal deer hunters also killed 20 elk outside the 16-county elk zone. The
Fish and Wildlife Commission authorized 100 elk permits for the 2005 season.
With the end of these big game seasons looming, many of us can now turn our
attention on rabbits, squirrels, quail, ducks, geese, grouse and more. Hunting
opportunity is abundant in the Commonwealth and I urge each of you to go afield.
On another note, the annual Legislative Wild Game dinner, co-sponsored by the
Fish and Wildlife Commission and the Kentucky Association of Conservation
Districts, was once again a well-attended success. Governor Fletcher, Secretary
Jim Host and Secretary Lujanna Wilcher joined members of the House and Senate in
dining on elk, deer, bison, catfish, and more prepared by Fish and Wildlife and
Division of Conservation employees.
|Kentuckyís 2004 Principal of the Year, Tommy
Floyd, and his Somerset High School National Archery in the Schools team,
coached legislators and others in the finer points of archery. Floyd is a
strong proponent of the schoolís archery program and says the program
helped make his school a "Top 20 Blue Ribbon" school because of
the way it engages his students.
We are proud of the Archery in the Schools programís success, and
look forward to its upcoming annual March competition in Louisville.
That means spring is just around the corner and with it the 2005
fishing season. The 2005 spring wild turkey opener will be upon us before
we know it. Remember that March 1 is a new license year. Now is a great
time to beat the rush. The new "Sportsmanís License" package
is the best value. Give it a try. You can buy it on line at https://fw.ky.gov/license/LicSaleIntro.asp
or by phone at 1.877.598.2401.
C. Tom Bennett
Somerset High School archery team member
Morgan Floyd thanks Gov. Fletcher at the Wild Game Dinner.
Wildlife Habitat Incentives Program Sign-ups Due by February 18
Kentucky landowners who want to participate in the Wildlife Habitat Incentive
Program have until February 18, 2005 to sign-up at their local U.S.D.A. Natural
Resources Conservation Service office to be considered for the 2005 program
Applications received after February 18, 2005 will be held until the next
The Wildlife Habitat Incentive Program provides landowners an opportunity to
conduct wildlife habitat improvement projects on their property. The program
provides up to 75 percent cost-share for eligible practices on their land.
The primary focus for the Wildlife Habitat Incentive Program in Kentucky for
2005 is to create and restore early successional habitats. Early successional
habitats are open areas such as former pastures, old fields or agricultural
lands that are beginning to return to their natural state. Planting native
grasses, shrubs and wildlife friendly grasses are eligible practices for 2005
Wildlife Habitat Incentive Program cost-share assistance.
Other eligible practices for the Wildlife Habitat Incentive Program include
installing filter strips to control erosion in planted fields, improving forest
stands, planting field borders and trees, constructing wildlife watering holes,
planting trees and other plants along the edges of streams and fencing to
exclude livestock from sensitive areas.
Applications for the program are evaluated and ranked to determine which
applications benefit wildlife habitat the most. For more information on the
Wildlife Habitat Incentive Program, please contact your local Natural Resources
Conservation Service office or call the KDFWR at 1-800-858-1549 to contact your
local private lands biologist.
New Streams Initiative Will Focus on Smallmouth Bass
A new project within the fisheries division of
the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources (KDFWR) will identify the
best smallmouth bass streams in Kentucky for anglers to enjoy.
"A few years ago we put together our available data on streams
concerning smallmouth bass, rock bass and largemouth bass populations,"
said Gerry Buynak, assistant director of fisheries for the KDFWR, "and came
up with a benchmark so we can rate the sport fish populations in streams across
Using the assessments and knowledge of streams in their districts, biologists
listed the best smallmouth bass streams in each fishery district in Kentucky. A
brochure listing these streams will be produced this coming spring.
Most Kentuckians are within a 30-minute drive of a stream with a fishable
population of smallmouth bass. The stream assessment initiative gives biologists
a tool to manage each individual stream to produce the best fishing. The
information learned about the health of smallmouth bass in a particular stream
may lead to future regulations like the successful slot limit on smallmouth and
largemouth bass in Elkhorn Creek in Franklin County enacted in 1993. The slot
limit is responsible for bigger smallmouth bass swimming in Elkhorn Creek.
"In the beginning, we didnít have a lot of data except for the Elkhorn
and a few other streams to put the assessment together," Buynak explained.
"Now and in the future, we will have more data to develop better
assessments and rankings on these streams."
Some stream fisheries may benefit from a catch and release only regulation, a
lowered daily creel limit with a higher minimum size limit or just a higher
minimum size limit. Each stream differs in water quality, the genetics of the
smallmouth bass in the stream or the fertility of the water. Biologists are
beginning to have the necessary information they need to make the best
management decisions on stream fisheries instead of placing them under a
blanket, statewide daily creel and minimum size limit. All of this should lead
to better stream smallmouth fishing in Kentucky in the future.
There are streams all across Kentucky that were polluted in decades past from
mining activities, sewage discharges, chemicals leaching into the stream, stream
channelization and siltation from agriculture or construction. Many of these
streams are in much better shape now, but the smallmouth bass populations have
not fully recovered.
"One of the possibilities of this program is to go into streams that
were formerly degraded or polluted and are now recovering and stock smallmouth
bass to jump start and restore the fisheries in those streams," Buynak
The sampling work done to evaluate recovering streams also gave biologists a
greater understanding of the genetics of smallmouth bass from different parts of
Kentucky. Biologists donít want to mix the genetics of one strain of
smallmouth bass with another.
"The smallmouth bass populations in each drainage we looked at are
distinct from one another," Buynak said. "We donít want to take
Elkhorn Creek smallmouth bass and put them in the Tug Fork of the Big
A 16-inch, brown-striped smallmouth bass tail walking across the surface of a
Kentucky stream trying to shake a lure is one of the outdoors experiences that
hooks a person into a lifelong fishing obsession. This new initiative will
provide the same experience for generations to come.
The stream bank and often the stream bottom may be privately owned. Anglers
must receive permission from the landowner before accessing a stream. For more
information on stream fishing opportunities in Kentucky, call 1-800-858-1549.
2004 a Safe Year for Kentucky Hunters and Boaters
The 2004 Kentucky hunting season has been one of the safest on record.
Of the nine hunting-related incidents reported this year, only one fatality
has occurred involving a firearm. A 38-year-old deer hunter in Henry County died
from a self-inflicted wound while climbing out of a tree stand. The hunter
failed to use a haul line that safely delivers the gun to the ground.
"We are encouraged to see our hunter education requirements make a
positive impact in Kentucky," said Mac Lang, hunter education coordinator
for the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources (KDFWR). "From
all indications, the one fatality relating to a firearm happened because of
improper handling of that firearm."
The other two hunting fatalities in Kentucky in 2004 resulted from deer
hunters suffering heart attacks while in the field, one in Mercer County and
another in Jefferson County.
"We hope we have no hunting-related fatalities next year," Lang
said. "One is too many."
Kentucky hunters collectively spend millions of man-hours in the field, but
maintain an extremely low degree of accidents, injuries and deaths. The vast
majority of injuries or loss of life related to hunting result from
self-inflicted wounds, falls and being unprepared. However, educational efforts
continue to improve our knowledge of handling firearms with respect and hunting
Likewise, this year Kentucky experienced the lowest number of boating
fatalities in nearly 30 years.
Since 1976, the number of registered boats and watercraft in Kentucky has
steadily increased from 80,000 to 180,000 vessels registered in 2003.
"The number of boating-related fatalities ties the lowest number weíve
had since 1973 and only two were related to alcohol," said Lieutenant Mike
Fields, boating education coordinator for the KDFWR. "We increased our
enforcement effort on the water at various times this year, and perhaps that
stimulated greater awareness of the dangers of drinking and boating."
In 1973, 54 Kentuckians died from boating-related accidents, compared to nine
in 2004. Even this low number could have been reduced further, had operators
worn a personal floatation device or lifejacket.
"In eight of the nine fatalities, those who lost their lives were not
wearing a lifejacket at all," Fields explained. "And, in the ninth
fatality, the person was wearing a lifejacket, but didnít have it properly
secured around his body. It came off when he fell in the water. It floated, he
Four of the nine boating fatalities involved non-motorized boats. Only one
fatality resulted from the collision of two boats.
"The other eight fatalities were single vessel fatalities, not
collisions," Fields explained.
For more information on hunter and boater education, log on to the internet
at fw.ky.gov and click on the "education" tab.
Snow Leopard Owner Cited For Illegally Holding, Transporting Wildlife
The owner of a rare Snow Leopard that escaped its cage and triggered an
intense 10-day search by authorities last summer is facing 10 counts in Bullitt
District Court of illegally possessing and transporting wildlife into Kentucky.
Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Conservation Officer Myra Minton
cited Tim Peveler, 43, of Shepherdsville, Wednesday for illegally possessing the
endangered snow leopard and three genets after a five-month joint state and
federal investigation. Peveler, who also possessed a black leopard and two
bearcats at his Bells Mill Road residence, was also cited for seven counts of
transporting wildlife into the state without a permit. His arraignment is
scheduled for February 14.
The 3-year-old snow leopard, an endangered species native to the mountainous
regions of Asia, slipped through an open gate last July 26, attracting statewide
attention, panicking local residents, and prompting an immediate response from
local and state agencies. It was recaptured 10 days later by Peveler,
Conservation Officers Chris Ogle and Minton, and Bullitt County Sheriffs Deputy
"This is an excellent example of how the private holding of improperly
permitted wildlife can quickly escalate into a public safety issue," said
Col. David Casey, KDFWR Director of Law Enforcement. "We and other agencies
responded immediately, but a large leopard ranged freely in Bullitt County for
State law requires persons to obtain a KDFWR permit prior to transporting any
wildlife in to the state. It also prohibits the private possession of
internationally endangered wildlife and certain non-native wildlife species with
the potential to damage native ecosystems. Genets are prohibited. Catlike in
appearance and habit, they are not cats, but part of the family Viverridae,
which also includes civets and mongooses.
Besides forfeiture of the animals, each cited count carries a possible fine
from $100 to $500 and six months in jail.
Eagle Watch Weekends Upcoming in January and February
Winter anglers on Dale Hollow Lake or Kentucky Lake are sometimes awestruck
by witnessing the majestic flight of our national bird, the bald eagle. The
annual Eagle Watch Weekends give people who donít normally visit these lakes
in winter a chance to view bald eagles up close in the wild.
The Eagle Watch Weekends for 2005 are January 14 - 15 and January 21 - 22 at
Dale Hollow Lake State Resort Park, January 21 Ė 23 at Kentucky Dam Village
State Resort Park, January 28 Ė 30 at Lake Barkley State Resort Park and
February 4 Ė 6 at Kenlake State Resort Park. The Kentucky Department of Parks
sponsors the Eagle Watch Weekends in partnership with the Kentucky Department of
Fish and Wildlife Resources (KDFWR) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
Participants in the Eagle Watch Weekend get a tour with biologists,
naturalists and expert guides on a van tour, a boat tour or a combination of
both. Those who choose the Dale Hollow Lake Eagle Watch Weekend go out on an
open barge supplied by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (all participants in the
Dale Hollow Lake Eagle Watch Weekend must bring a U.S. Coast Guard approved
lifejacket). Prices for these combinations range from $15 to $80 for an adult.
"Those who go on the Eagle Watch Weekend can expect to see eagles for
sure," said Shawchyi Vorisek, avian ecologist for the KDFWR. "The
colder the weather is, the better the eagle viewing."
Between 150 and 350 bald eagles migrate to Kentuckyís waterways each
winter. "Our numbers for the 2004 count were 191 bald eagles," Vorisek
said. "We are getting mellow winter weather this year, but I expect the
number of eagles in the state to be about the same as last year."
Three new pairs of bald eagles built nests in Kentucky in 2004, including the
first nesting pair at Cave Run Lake. Kentucky now possesses 39 pairs of nesting
It is recommended those who participate in the Eagle Watch Weekend bring
along comfortable walking shoes or hiking boots, rain gear, warm clothes that
can be layered, binoculars, ear muffs, warm gloves, warm headgear and a camera.
For more information about the Eagle Watch Weekend on the internet, log on to
. For reservations or information call:
Dale Hollow State Resort Park: 1-800-325-2282
Kentucky Dam Village State Resort Park: 1-800-325-0146
Lake Barkley State Resort Park: 1-800-325-1708
Kenlake State Resort Park: 1-800-325-0143