Proposed changes to turkey and bear regulations expected next fall
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Shotgun season for turkey opens statewide this Saturday and continues through October 28th. Bag limits for turkey include four, but no more than two may be taken by a shotgun. No more than one bird may have a beard length of three inches or longer and no more than one may be taken per day.
For turkey hunters sixteen or older, an annual hunting license is required, as well as a turkey permit. Archery season continues through January 16th and another crossbow turkey season is coming up November 12th through December 31st. A second shotgun season is also scheduled for December 3rd through the 9th.
Kentucky Fish and Wildlife Commission members recommended changes to turkey and bear regulations at their last quarterly meeting, but the recommendations must receive legislative approval before they become law. If approved by legislators, proposed changes are anticipated to take effect by fall 2023.
Revisiting a proposed regulation concerning fall turkey bag limits, the Commission recommended a reduction of the fall turkey bag limit to two turkeys, only one of which may be a female or beardless turkey and only one of which may have a beard three inches or longer.
Under the administrative regulation currently in place through the 2022 seasons, hunters can harvest up to four birds in the fall but only one can have a beard of 3 inches or longer. Female turkeys (hens) accounted for 63.9 percent of the 1,577 turkeys harvested by hunters last fall.
The Commission then made a recommendation to clarify for hunters and conservation officers specifically what constitutes unlawful baiting for fall turkey hunting. Under its proposal, hunters shall not knowingly hunt wild turkeys in fall within 200 yards (600 feet) of any bait or feed on their property or the property upon which they have permission to hunt. The restriction would not cross property lines. In addition, KRS 150.710 prohibits intentional obstruction or disruption of lawful hunting.
The recommendations followed previous Commission action to proactively address concerns about wild turkey numbers in Kentucky and declines across their range. Kentucky Fish and Wildlife is involved with research projects to study nesting success and survival rates of young birds as well as the impact hunting has on the flock.
In other hunting news – bear related business, the Commission proposed that all participants in a bear chase must possess a valid Kentucky bear chase permit and any valid Kentucky hunting license. Those attempting to harvest a bear during bear chase season must have a valid Kentucky bear hunting permit, a valid bear chase permit and an annual Kentucky hunting license.
The Commission also recommended creation of three new, non-resident bear permits. These would include a $50 non-resident bear chase permit, a $15 non-resident youth bear chase permit and a $100 non-resident youth bear hunting permit.
Commission members also recommended combining the resident bear chase permit and resident bear hunting permit into a single $50 resident bear chase and hunting permit, for a savings of $10 if bought separately. The proposed effective time frame for the bear-related recommendations is fall 2023. The next quarterly meeting of the Kentucky Fish and Wildlife Commission will be held December 2nd and agendas will be posted at fw.ky.gov when available.