COVID-19's Effect On The KDFWR

Fishing and Hunting Remain Open:

The Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources encourages your outdoor recreational pursuits, but they should be done in a manner consistent with social distancing guidelines and in compliance with any orders from federal, state and local government. For the latest information on the novel coronavirus in Kentucky, please visit kycovid19.ky.gov.

Open-air sites, such as public lands and streams and wildlife management areas remain open. Kentucky hunting and fishing license requirements, seasons and bag/creel limits remain unchanged.

To follow the reopening plan for Kentucky, visit the Kentucky Healthy at Work page developed by the state. Please follow the July 9, 2020 Executive Order mandating face coverings by anyone over the age of five. Masks are required while in an outdoor or indoor public space in which it is difficult to maintain a physical distance of at least six feet from all individuals who are not members of the same household.

Spring 2021 - Fishing, Hunting and Wildlife Watching Opportunities

Participating in outdoor activities such as spring turkey and squirrel hunting, fishing, and wildlife viewing in Kentucky are great ways to safely recreate, connect with nature, spend quality time with family and friends, and potentially harvest your own healthy protein.

At this time, we do not anticipate any travel or other public health restrictions that would impede hunters from participating in these activities. However, please recreate responsibly by following applicable public health guidelines.

You can purchase your licenses (and permits, if necessary, such as Spring Turkey Permits or the Trout Permit) here. Please follow the guidance and regulations provided in our Fishing & Boating Guide and Spring Hunting Guide regulations summary booklets, available on the Hunt or Fish tabs from our home page.

Effective July 20, 2020, a new order issued by the Cabinet for Health and Family Services pulled back on guidance covering social, non-commercial mass gatherings. This order returned the guidance to allow only for such gatherings of 10 or fewer people.

Also on July 20, 2020, the Kentucky Department for Public Health (DPH) issued an advisory for Kentuckians who have traveled to states reporting high numbers of COVID-19. The advisory recommends a 14-day self-quarantine for travelers who went to any state reporting a positive testing rate equal to or greater than 15 percent for COVID-19. Currently, those states include: Idaho, Michigan, and Iowa. Puerto Rico is also included. It is recommended that visitors to these locations stay home for 14 days, starting from the date you left that location. This is not a mandate.

State Offices Closed to In-Person Contact but Still Available to Help:

All Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources offices are closed to in-person contact with the public to minimize health risks. Please utilize this website to gather information. We also have Fish and Wildlife Information Specialists available to answer your questions. You may contact them at 800-858-1549, or via email at info.center@ky.gov. They are available via phone Monday through Friday, 8 AM to 4:30 PM (Eastern).


COVID-19 Related Closings, Cancellations, Postponements, and FAQ’s

Salato Wildlife Education Center

Salato Wildlife Education Center is now open for the 2021 season! Visitors may reserve tickets by visiting our Salato web page.

    For continued education during this time, we have many online resources for teachers and students. Check them out here: Teacher Resources for Distance Learning


    Hunting

    Spring Turkey, Squirrel and Bullfrog seasons will be open under normal regulations.

    Please consult the Spring Hunting Guide regulations summary booklet, available on the Hunt tab of our home page for season dates, bag limits, public lands opportunities, and other details.

    Camping:

    Effective August 1, 2020, overnight camping on Wildlife Management Areas (WMAs) with designated primitive camping areas is permitted. Camping in self-contained campers or primitive tent camping is allowed but electricity, water, restrooms, and shower facilities are not provided.

    Please camp responsibly, following the principles of Leave No Trace:

    • Plan Ahead and Prepare
    • Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces
    • Dispose of Waste Properly
    • Leave What You Find
    • Minimize Campfire Impacts
    • Respect Wildlife
    • Be Considerate of Other Visitors

    Designated camping areas are available at the following WMAs:

    Dispersed camping is still available on Peabody WMA and Clay WMA.

    Campers must obey all social distancing and mask requirements as directed by the Executive Order issued by the Governor.

    Otter Creek Outdoor Recreation Area is open to primitive camping, effective July 13, 2020.

    Further guidelines at Otter Creek include:

    • Phone reservations are required prior to arrival. Walk-ins are not permitted in order to stay under the campground capacity.
    • Campers are encouraged to practice social distancing at all times.
    • Visitors to campers are limited to two individuals at a time.
    • Picnic tables and playgrounds are not currently available.
    • Swimming is not permitted.

    Please reference the websites of the US Army Corps of Engineers, United States Forest Service, National Park Service, and Kentucky State Parks for camping information on their properties.

    The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Nashville District has announced changes to the 2020 Lake Barkley Duck Blind Drawing due to COVID-19 and restrictions on large gatherings. Blind permits from the 2019-2020 season will be “grandfathered.” For complete details, please see the news release about the changes.

    Is the department considering opening up hunting seasons early, or changing bag or daily catch limits?

    No. Kentucky’s hunting seasons and fishing regulations have not been expanded. These seasons and limits remain set by regulation for their regular time and length in order to conserve our fish and wildlife populations for the present and future, and to provide maximum sustainable recreation opportunities for the public. Please reference page 16 of our spring hunting guide for information regarding the spring squirrel season.


    Are we waiving license and permit fees?

    No. Hunting and fishing licenses and permits are required to fish and hunt as always. The new license year started March 1. Licenses and permits can be purchased online at fw.ky.gov, in many retail stores, or by phone at 877-598-2401.


    Is the department closing any of its wildlife management areas?

    No. All department-owned and managed wildlife or hunter access areas remain open. You can find maps and other access information online at fw.ky.gov.

    However, the department is canceling organized events of 10 people or more on the areas. Also, until further notice, offices are closed to in-person services with limited exceptions.


    Will coronavirus affect wildlife populations?

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    Researchers and biologists are uncovering more information about this topic daily. For the latest information compiled by KDFWR, please watch the video above and/or visit here.


    Fishing

    Fishing tournaments in Kentucky must follow specific guidelines.  The fishing tournament guidelines are now available on the Kentucky Healthy at Work page.

    Kentucky Fish and Wildlife encourages anglers to be aware of COVID-19 related actions taken by the Governor, and follow the latest guidelines issued by public health experts.

    Other recommendations:

    • Bank anglers: Stay at least one fishing pole’s length from those around you. Take advantage of the outdoor space and practice social distancing. Find areas to fish away from places that others may naturally want to congregate, such as fishing piers.
    • Boat anglers: Allow enough room on the boat to maintain social distancing of at least 6 feet.
    • At boat ramps, practice proper social distancing and avoid mass gatherings or crowded areas while on the ramps. Please take extra time to space out while waiting to load boats into the water. Stay off the ramp if others are loading or unloading to avoid crowding. Wait until the courtesy dock is clear of others. Avoid touching areas such as hand rails on the courtesy dock unless absolutely necessary.

    Updated Closures:

    • The indoor facilities of the department-owned fish hatcheries are closed to the public. This includes Minor Clark Fish Hatchery in Morehead and Peter W. Pfeiffer Fish Hatchery in Frankfort.

    Boat Ramps:

    The Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources intends to keep boat ramps open for public use and avoid a complete shutdown due to overcrowding. Compliance with current guidance about mass gatherings and proper social distancing is essential.

    Please be advised: Not all ramps are owned or operated by Kentucky Fish and Wildlife. Therefore, it is recommended that you check the signage at the ramp for hours of operation before launching your boat.

    • Kentucky State Parks returned to normal operating hours on June 1st. These hours of operation also apply to boat ramps on state park grounds. For more information about Kentucky State Parks and COVID-19, please visit parks.ky.gov/covid-19-information.

    • Some boat ramps operated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers may be closed. Also some bank access on Corps property may have limited access. Please check by visiting Corps websites:

    We encourage the public to continue to enjoy our waterways responsibly. Avoid crowds of any size and practice social distancing to fight the spread of the coronavirus.

    Boat Registration:

    Beginning October 7, any unpaid boat registration due at the end of September or earlier will be considered past due. Please check your county clerk office for complete information on how to renew your registration.​ For boating regulations, please visit our boating web page.


    Conservation Camps

    Conservation Camp is full for the 2021 season.  For more information visit our​ Conservation Camp web page.


    Hunter Education

    Effective August 27, 2020, the hunter education exemption is FREE for a limited time.

    The permit allows new hunters in Kentucky to hunt for up to one year without a hunter education card. The permit must be carried while hunting and requires its holder to hunt with a licensed, adult hunter (at least 18 years old) who meets the hunter education requirement. The adult shall be in a position to take immediate control of the exempted hunter’s bow or firearm at all times while hunting. This law applies even if the exemption permit holder is an adult. The permit is available only one time. Once it expires, hunters are no longer exempt and must successfully complete a hunter education course. Obtain your hunter education exemption and please refer to the fall hunting guide for more information.

    Are Hunter Education classes and range days still open for participants?

    In-person Kentucky hunter education classes and range days are temporarily suspended. If you have registered for a class that is affected by this change, you will be notified by email. Please keep checking our website for the next available in-person class. Online options for completing the classroom portion of Kentucky’s hunter education are available. This includes a new, free online course. Visit our Hunter Education web page for more information.

    A virtual range day option is currently available in lieu of in-person range days to meet certification requirements. Complete information is available on the department’s Hunter Education webpage, including how-to and sample “virtual range day” videos.


    Please also note that the department recognizes state-approved Hunter Education certifications from all other states, regardless of their course format.


    Is the department waiving the requirements for hunter education because of canceled classes?

    No. If you are required to have a hunter education card to hunt in Kentucky, you will still be required to do so. The department has a one-year Hunter Education exemption permit available for those who can’t obtain their Hunter Education card in time for a hunting season; this permit allows people of any age to hunt with an adult mentor who has completed Hunter Education or was born before 1975. To obtain this permit, start by clicking here.


    Law Enforcement


    Conservation officers continue to perform their duties in the field. In their everyday role, they ensure compliance with hunting and fishing laws and ensure that the state’s waterways are a safe place for all to enjoy by utilizing a two-pronged approach consisting of education and enforcement.

    Our officers are taking some extra precautions due to the coronavirus. Each has been provided hand sanitizer, gloves and an N95 mask. If a conservation officer is checking a hunting or fishing license, the public can help by kindly holding it up and making it as visible as possible from a safe distance. Even in the outdoors, it’s important to practice good social distancing.


    Important Note

    Guidance that is being provided by public health experts to maximize public safety and minimize the spread of the coronavirus is subject to change weekly or even daily. We may have to make further changes.

    Please continue to monitor this page for updates. We’ll also keep you informed by posting updates to our Facebook page (@kdfwr) and on Twitter (@kyfishwildlife).

    We encourage everyone to get out and enjoy the outdoors. Go fishing, hunting or wildlife watching. You can purchase hunting and fishing licenses and permits online. Register your boat through your local county clerk’s office and get out on the water. Take your family outdoors for a hike, to go fishing, or to go turkey hunting. Kentucky offers almost endless outdoor opportunities. Let’s get out and enjoy them today, and safely.


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