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Proposed changes to bear hunting regulations have received final legislative approval and are effective as of Oct. 20, 2022. The newly amended regulations establish fixed season dates with no bear quotas and redraw the Bear Zone from eight zones to two, encompassing 47 total counties; Firearms calibers that can be used to hunt bears now include the 6.5 mm round (.264-caliber) and muzzleloader hunters may now use .45-caliber or larger firearms.
Participants must purchase and possess proof of a valid combination bear permit, bear chase permit or youth bear chase permit in addition to fulfilling annual hunting license requirements.
Chase-only and hunt with dogs seasons are closed in the Daniel Boone National Forest, Beaver Creek WMA, Cane Creek WMA, Hensley-Pine Mountain WMA, Mill Creek WMA, Miller-Welch Central Kentucky WMA, Pioneer Weapons WMA, Redbird WMA, Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area, and Cumberland Gap National Historical Park.
Bears can be chased during legal daylight hours only. Hunters cannot chase bears from a baited area while the bait is present or for 30 days after the bait has been removed.
The bear hunt with dogs season is also a chase-only season for any person with a valid bear chase permit.
Unless license-exempt, hunters must purchase and possess proof of the appropriate valid bear permit(s) in addition to an annual hunting license.
Hunters who harvest a bear during any bear hunting season must telecheck it by 8 p.m. Eastern time on the day of harvest. Hunters also call must call 1-800-858-1549 within 24 hours of harvest (and prior to removing the harvested bear from the Bear Zone) to arrange for a physical check of the animal and receive a tag issued by Kentucky Fish and Wildlife
Bears physically checked during any hunting season must include a carcass or an intact hide that contains the skull and proof of sex.
Bear hunters may harvest bear with archery/crossbow and muzzleloader equipment during bear firearm season.
Prior to moving harvested bears out of the Bear Zone, hunters must call 1-800-858-1549 within 24 hours of harvest to arrange for a physical check of the animal and receive a tag issued by Kentucky Fish and Wildlife.
Bear hunters and those who accompany them, or any other person hunting on public or private lands in the bear hunting zones during a firearm season for bears, must comply with the hunter-orange clothing law. This requirement also applies to any person chasing bears during the bear hunt with dogs season.