Kentucky Searching for Clues in Black Bear Death

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Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources officials are seeking information about a black bear struck and killed on U.S. 23 in Lawrence County Monday evening, Nov. 20.

Conservation officer Jim Marshall and Wildlife Biologist Jason Plaxico met Sheriff Garrett Roberts and a deputy about four miles north of the Johnson County line and discovered a dead 215-pound young male bear that had been killed crossing the highway.

They noticed upon arrival that someone had cut off its paws.

Black bears once ranged throughout the forests that covered three-quarters of Kentucky. But habitat destruction, the loss of the American chestnut tree and human harassment nearly eliminated them from the state a century ago.

Today, due to large scale regeneration of forest land in eastern Kentucky, and abundant bear populations in neighboring states West Virginia, Virginia and Tennessee, they are naturally recolonizing the state.

"We have a small but growing population of bears," said Marshall. "They have become significant tourist attractions in several areas."

Kentucky does not have a hunting season for bears. It is illegal to take the carcass or body parts from a bear found dead or killed along the roadside in Kentucky.

Marshall is requesting anyone with information about the bear or its missing parts to call him at (606) 265-4474 or (606) 367-0193. They can also call the Kentucky Fish and Wildlife law enforcement hotline at 1-800-25-ALERT.