Kentucky Offers Second Chance at Elk

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The Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources has proposed an additional elk hunt to help landowners alleviate damage caused by elk. The proposal would allow thousands of hunters not chosen for the regular season hunts a second chance at a cow elk hunt. The proposed hunt still requires final approval by legislators.

"Although we don't get nearly as many calls about nuisance elk as we do about deer and other species, elk can do significant damage to pastures during the winter, and to crops during the summer," said Kentucky Big Game Program Coordinator Tina Brunjes. "We proposed this hunt specifically to help landowners, and it provides additional hunting opportunities."

The proposal includes a 14-day season for antlerless elk beginning Jan. 14. While modern firearms would be allowed for the hunt, it would be limited to private lands within two of the newly created Elk Management Units.

Under the proposal, 50 hunters will be randomly selected from the pool of applicants who were not chosen for the 2008 bull and cow quota hunts. Hunters would be assigned an Elk Management Unit in portions of Knott, Harlan or Bell counties, and be responsible for obtaining permission from a landowner to hunt.

Landowners like Jim Corum of Bell County said they appreciate the department's efforts to solve his elk problems. Corum has lost young trees to hungry elk and rutting bulls over the last 3 years.

Corum and his neighbors, along with Bell County Judge-Executive Abey Brock, contacted Kentucky Fish and Wildlife for assistance in solving the problem. Although Corum has tried various methods of keeping elk off his land as recommended by department biologists who visited his property, his location next to the Begley Wildlife Management Area provides plenty of opportunity for elk to visit.

Key department personnel – including Wildlife Division Director Karen Alexy and commission members Taylor Orr and Doug Hensley – met Aug. 21 with local residents in Bell County to hear their concerns and discuss the proposed hunt and other ways of dealing with elk. Orr represents the Ninth Wildlife District, which includes Bell County, while Hensley represents the Seventh Wildlife District, which includes Harlan County.

"Elk have brought a lot of positives to eastern Kentucky, but they sometimes get into conflict with people," Alexy said afterward. "This meeting and the proposed late-season hunt for the Straight Creek area are part of Kentucky Fish and Wildlife's efforts to address these issues."

A second public meeting about the hunt proposal is scheduled for 6 p.m. Sept. 15 at the Knott County Sportsplex near Hazard. A small area of private land in Knott County, located northeast of Carr Creek Lake Wildlife Management Area, is being considered for a late-season hunt.