For the past few years, Wayne County hunters said that bear overpopulation has become a nuisance mainly to corn crop farmers, and they said damages can be prevented if the dates for Kentucky’s bear hunting season can be changed.
Currently, Kentucky Fish & Wildlife has set the following dates for bear hunting season:
- Hunt with dogs/any legal equipment, Zones 1 & 2, Open through Oct. 21
- Hunt with dogs/any legal equipment, Zone 2, Oct. 27-Nov. 4
- Hunt with archery/crossbow equipment, Zone 1, Oct. 22-24
- Hunt with archery/crossbow equipment, Zone 2, Oct. 22-26
- Hunt with firearms, Zone 1, Dec. 10-12
- Hunt with firearms, Zone 2, Dec. 10-14
Bear hunters like Gordon Runyon Jr. said the dates should be switched around.
“We need to move it from December to October and put the dog season after our gun season, our bow season. It will make it a whole lot easier,” Runyon said.
Runyon said he feels like he’s been given the run-around by county and state representatives. For the last two years, he’s written, called, and even mailed in his petition for the dates to be changed to state leaders, and he says nothing’s happened.
“I had 68 signatures,” Runyon said. “They told me that it’s not going to change; that I’m fighting a losing battle.”
One of the hunters who signed Runyon’s petition is Larry Upchurch.
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Upchurch wants the firearms dates to be in October because he said it’s too cold to hunt in December.
“In December, most of the bears are hibernating, so you hardly ever see one,” Upchurch said. “If we could bait them like you can bait deer, that would help too.”
Wade Foster is another hunter who signed Runyon’s petition.
Foster said Kentucky’s Fish and Wildlife Department has addressed damaged crops in the area as isolated incidents, but he disagrees.
“This is not an isolated incident,” Foster said. “The farmer trying to grow corn is the one that taking a beating. The bears here over the last few years have become a big problem.”
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Runyon said he’s tried reaching Wayne County Representative Ken Upchurch about the petition, but he’s still waiting to hear back.
In a statement Representative Upchurch wrote Wednesday, he addressed the hunters:
“The overpopulation of bears in Wayne County is a great concern for those of us that live here and I am in discussions with the Department of Fish and Wildlife to see what can be done to address it. I’ve talked to countless farmers with crop damage, as well as others concerned about property damage and personal safety. I have had numerous conversations with hunters and it is my understanding that Fish and Wildlife is working on expanding opportunities to hunt the bears legally, and I will continue to work with them until we can resolve this issue. I may even be in the woods hunting them myself this season.”Ken Upchurch, Wayne County Representative
To join the push for changing Kentucky’s bear hunting dates, Runyon and his hunting partners can be found on the Kentucky Hunters Facebook page.