Executive Summary

The Kentucky Comprehensive Wildlife Conservation Strategy (CWCS, also referred to as the “Plan”) was developed in order to identify and conserve Kentucky’s Species of Greatest Conservation Need and to comply with the requirements of the congressionally authorized State and Tribal Wildlife Grants (STWG) Program.  This document represents a proactive plan for sustaining the diversity of species and habitats found in Kentucky.  The Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources (KDFWR) acted as the lead agency in this effort but many partners provided crucial input.  The general public was also invited to participate and provide input.  This is not KDFWR’s plan, but rather a plan for Kentucky’s Species of Greatest Conservation Need, as well as for all interested Kentuckians.

This approach largely addresses species that have not traditionally had a dedicated funding source.  Historically, the authority and responsibility for species management has been vested with the states.  For over 60 years, state fish and wildlife agencies have worked, in partnership with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) under the Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration Act and the Federal Aid in Sport Fish Restoration Act to conserve and properly manage game species.  Separate funding sources have also been established for species listed as Federally Threatened or Endangered.  However, a reliable funding mechanism has not been established to adequately address other non-game species.  This plan is a judicious effort to address the future of these species.

A total of 301 Species of Greatest Conservation Need were identified for Kentucky, representing species from 7 taxonomic groups:  Bivalves, Fishes, Lampreys, Amphibians, Reptiles, Birds and Mammals.  We mapped the ranges and known locations for each species and identified key habitats.  We identified conservation issues and proposed prioritized actions to address those issues.  Measures to monitor the status of species and their habitats were developed along with research and survey needs, ongoing efforts, and future plans.  Priority Conservations Areas were identified where many of these species can be found in relatively small regions.  Just as importantly, we proposed the framework for a system to monitor the overall effectiveness of this plan.  We recognize our current efforts represent a starting point for conservation, not a conclusion.  There is much to learn about Kentucky’s fish and wildlife species and their habitats, and we intend to adapt our approach as new information becomes available through the implementation of this plan.

The legislation that enabled states to begin developing their plans included 8 required elements.  We purposefully organized this document around these 8 elements.  A summary (Guide to the 8 Elements) has been developed to aid reviewers and other users in locating each element.