Changes in Store for 2004 Elk Hunting

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The Kentucky Fish and Wildlife Commission has adopted new rules concerning 2004 quota elk hunts. The Commission recommends all hunting, fishing and boating regulations for approval by the General Assembly and approves all expenditures by the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources (KDFWR).

Among the major changes for the 2004 quota elk hunts will be to increase the number of permits available from 12 to 40. There will be 20 bull elk and 20 cow elk tags available next year. Two bull elk tags are awarded annually to conservation groups that auction the permits to raise funds for elk herd management and ongoing research.

The period to apply for an elk quota hunt will be extended two more months through July 31. The application fee will remain $10. The drawing will be conducted electronically in August. Resident hunters drawn for an elk permit will be required to pay $25, and nonresidents $300. Up to 10 percent of the permits may be awarded to non-resident applicants.

Because the number of permits will increase, hunting will begin taking place on both public and private lands. Quota hunters will be randomly assigned to hunt one or the other. Those assigned to hunt private land will be able to hunt elk during the entire deer season following deer season equipment restrictions.

One other change for elk hunting in 2004 is that Laurel, Jackson, Owsley, Lee, Wolfe, Morgan, Elliott and Lawrence will no longer be considered buffer counties of the elk restoration zone. Whitley and McCreary counties are now part of the elk restoration zone. The difference is that deer hunters can take elk during deer season in counties outside the restoration zone, whereas only quota elk hunting is permitted in counties in the elk restoration zone.

The free youth deer hunting weekend for 2004 will be two days starting the first Saturday after Christmas. The free youth small game hunting season will be expanded to run seven days starting December 26, 2004.

Pheasant quota hunt application procedures were revised to allow one person to apply for a group of up to five hunters for one application fee, and pay the total amount for quota permits based on the size of the group.

An experimental river otter season in western Kentucky will be conducted in 2004. All counties west of and including Trigg, Caldwell and Crittenden counties will comprise the experimental river otter zone. The bag limit will be five river otters per year.

In fisheries-related business, the fisheries commercial propagation permit fee was lowered from $100 to $50. The number of aquatic organisms that may be collected as live bait for personal use on a sport fishing license was lowered on some species. An angler may now possess five frogs (other than bullfrogs), five tadpoles and 25 salamanders (only spring lizards and dusky salamanders). These regulations now mirror other existing laws regarding the holding of native terrestrial wildlife.

The next Kentucky Fish and Wildlife Commission meeting will be held at 8 a.m. on Friday, March 5, 2004 at the Game Farm on U.S. 60 in Frankfort. Persons interested in addressing the Commission must notify the KDFWR Commissioner’s office in writing at least 30 days in advance to be considered for placement on the meeting agenda. People who are hearing impaired and plan to attend the meeting should contact the KDFWR at least 10 days in advance and the agency will provide a translator. To request to address the commission, write to KDFWR, Commissioner Tom Bennett, #1 Game Farm Road, Frankfort, Kentucky, 40601.