Eleven black bears were harvested during the state’s annual bear hunt this month in southeastern Kentucky.
This year’s season took place this past weekend on Dec. 8 and 9, and one of the bears set a new state record, weighing in at 410 pounds. It was taken in Letcher County by Jenkins resident Doug Adkins. The previous record was 350 pounds, which officials note is the field dressed weight of the animal.
All of the bears this season were taken from Harlan or Letcher County, counties which share Pine Mountain and contain the highest bear densities in Kentucky.
Though the state’s quota of 10 bears was exceeded by one this year, Dobey noted that was also due to the way the season is designed.
“If the quota is not met in a single day, the following day is open until sundown regardless,” said Dobey. “We have the season structured in the event this happened. The baseline quota will prevent over harvest of bears.”
The 2012 season marks the first time hunters met the quota of bears in the four-year history of modern bear hunting in Kentucky.
Additionally, by meeting the quota for the season, the bear quota hunt with dogs scheduled for Dec. 17 through Dec. 21 is now a chase-only season in which no harvest of bears shall occur. Harvest of bears would only occur if the bear quota was not met during the regular bear season. The scheduled late bear chase season with dogs will last from Dec. 24 through Dec. 28. Harvest of bears is not allowed during this chase season as well.
The first bear season in Kentucky opened in 2009, and in total 17 bears have been killed, 13 of which were males, according to the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife. Officials there say the season is designed so that more males are harvested than female.
“Having the hunt in mid-December helps prevent excessive harvest of female bears,” said Steve Dobey, coordinator for the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources. “Most female bears are in their dens by this time of year.”
Hunters purchased 359 permits for the 2012 hunt, down from 484 permits last year.