Kentucky Deer Population: A 2016 deer population estimated at 820,000 after the 2015-16 hunting season, with above one million pre-hunt in 2016.  A population of about one million deer 2014 and 2015 through 2016 pre-hunt with a likely modest upward trend.  Herd analysis at right.  Historical deer harvest data and news archive.

Kentucky Deer News

... Hunters must not bring whole deer or elk carcasses from infected states [with chronic wasting disease] to taxidermists or processing operations in Kentucky... Since 2002, Kentucky has tested more than 26,000 deer and elk for the presence of the disease. All results have been negative...

... More than 300,000 Kentucky hunters preparing for this weekend’s modern gun deer season ... at least 22 wild land fires burning, many in southeast Kentucky, as drought conditions persist across the state...

Modern gun deer season on tap November 5, 2016 Kentucky,  Daily News
... The harvest is down through the first two months of the 2016-17 season ...  Hunter success has been affected by the unseasonably warm weather and windy conditions combined with the abundance of food ...

... Wildlife officials in Kentucky, Indiana and Ohio recently launched a joint monitoring effort for the disease [bovine tuberculosis] after an infected deer was discovered in southeastern Indiana ... will operate a check station in Boone County during the first two weekends of modern gun season ...

Big hunting weekend approaches October 30, 2016 Kentucky, The Courier-Journal
... more than 1 million whitetail deer are prowling Kentucky’s varied landscape ... state deer program coordinator Gabe Jenkins ... A strong acorn crop provides deer with plenty of food in the woods. They don’t need to move away from cover to find food ...

Early returns from 2016-17 deer season October 21, 2016 Kentucky, Ledger Independent
 ... The two-day take of 2,987 deer was down sharply from last year when hunters benefitted from the timely arrival of a cold snap and a less bountiful acorn crop... Results from this year’s mast survey are in and it’s a good year for red and white oak acorn production but poor for hickory and beech nuts...

... Spotlight hunting is illegal because it can be very dangerous.  "People get kind of blinded. They see that big deer and they don't realize what's behind it ...

It's mid-October, so it must be time to talk about deer October 12, 2016 Kentucky, KyForward.com
... deer restoration in Kentucky took more than 50 years.  In March, 1999, deer restoration ended with the release of the final load of deer in Perry County. During deer restoration, 10,096 white-tailed deer were live-trapped and re-located around the state. The fall of 1999 was the first time all 120 counties were open to deer hunting...

Kentucky Deer Forecast for 2016 October 11, 2016 Game & Fish
... last season’s total was an 8 percent increase above the previous record and 12 percent higher than last season ... since the 2010-11 season, Kentucky deer harvest numbers have mostly been on an upward trend... 

... Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) has not been found in free-ranging deer or elk in Kentucky ...   the disease has been found in five of seven states that border Kentucky — Missouri, Illinois, Ohio, West Virginia and Virginia. ...   Researchers believe that CWD has been spread in North America by the transportation of infected deer or elk between captive herds, the escape of infected deer or elk from captive herd facilities ...

Whitetail deer numbers down at Land Between the Lakes September 10, 2016 Kentucky, The Courier-Journal
... Wildlife managers point to hunting pressure as the primary reason for the drop in deer numbers. To ease pressure and hopefully reduce the number of deer hunters who use the property, officials have decided that deer taken from the Kentucky portion of LBL will no longer be bonus deer, but will count against the statewide bag limit...

JWSRP to host Elk and Hunting Expo, tours September 8, 2016 Kentucky, Floyd County Times
...  Elk were introduced to Kentucky 20 years ago as part of a restoration project... Kentucky’s elk herd is estimated at more than 11,000 ... 

Have you heard about our herds of elk in Kentucky's Appalachian region? Two state resort parks are offering tours to view these majestic animals in their natural habitat. Special overnight lodging packages are available for Elk Tours at Buckhorn Lake State Resort Park and Jenny Wiley State Resort Park. Call the park to reserve a spot today! Jenny Wiley State Resort Park - (606)889-1790 Buckhorn Lake State Resort Park - (606)398-7510 Online: parks.ky.gov - September 6, 2016


... During the past five seasons, the number of deer taken with firearms has climbed steadily, from 83,363 during the 2011 season, to 109,179, in 2015... what’s driving the harvest is the recovery of herds in the central and western parts of the state that were reduced by outbreaks of Epizootic Hemorrhagic Disease (EHD) in 2007, 2010 and 2012...

... All harvested deer and elk must be reported to the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources either by phone at 1-800-245-4263 or online telecheck at fw.ky.gov.

... The latest herd estimate – derived from harvest and age structure data – pegged the statewide population at more than 820,000 after the 2015-16 hunting season and before fawning this spring... 

Public input sought on Kentucky's deer program August 12, 2016 Ledger Independent
     The Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources encourages deer hunters to participate in a new online survey about deer hunting and management in Kentucky.

The survey is available here through Sept. 9... From the survey:  Kentucky Department of Fish & Wildlife is soliciting public input from deer hunters regarding their experiences and opinions about deer hunting and management in Kentucky.  Information gained from this online public input will be used to help guide planning for our deer hunting and management programs in the future...

Kentucky 2016-17 deer season looks promising August 11, 2016 The Lake News
... Hunters in Kentucky established a new benchmark last season by taking more than 155,000 deer. It was the third record harvest in the past four seasons ... A state believed to hold fewer than 1,000 white-tailed deer a century ago ... We’ve had a really wet spring and a wet summer so far with lots of food available. That just equals healthy deer ...

Kentucky tourism discussed at Rotary August 9, 2016 Ledger Independent
...  growing number of black bears (now 1,000), and elk (10,000) in the state, which along with a white tail deer population of 1 million, brings hunters to the state from across the country...

Pulaski a 'focus area' for wild hog control and eradication efforts August 6, 2016 Kentucky, Commonwealth Journal's History
... Wild hogs will completely wipe out an acorn crop, food for both deer and turkeys ... “Hunting is not a good method of control. It does more damage that good,” said Hasp. “Shooting just scatters them.” He suggests the best way to eradicate feral hogs is to corral and kill the animals...

An examination of preference and bonus point systems for the Kentucky elk quota hunt July, 2016 Ky.gov
Demand greatly exceeds supply for Kentucky elk permits. In fact, KDFWR received
over 70,000 applications for 910 elk permits during the 2015 elk permit quota
drawing. Due to the difficult odds of drawing a permit, some applicants have
occasionally expressed interest in instituting a loyalty point system ...

Elk often graze at night and this one was getting a meal at 4:30 in the morning! The native Eastern elk subspecies was declared extinct in the 1880s. Rocky Mountain elk were introduced in Kentucky beginning in the late 1990s and their populations are growing. - July 29, 2016 Kentucky


Wildlife management area to expand July 24, 2016 Kentucky, Kentucky New Era
... added another large tract of land to its Big Rivers Wildlife Management Area in northern Crittenden County.  A deed was recorded last month, transferring 841.5 acres ...

Kentucky man frees deer from fence May 24, 2016 Local 8 Now
... Thanks to some help from volunteers at the Wolf Run Animal Sanctuary, Tate and the others were able to save the deer but not the fence...

LBL eliminating bonus option due to decrease in deer May 8, 2016 Kentucky, Kentucky New Era
...  outbreaks of Epizootic Hemorrhagic Disease commonly referred to as EHD, increased archery hunting pressure-especially on the Kentucky portion and a mature closed canopy forest. Forest and open land habitat must provide adequate forage and conditions for white-tailed deer...

Elk Foundation wrong about CWD in Ky. April 27, 2016 Kentucky, Beckley Register-Herald
...In Arkansas, CWD was found in elk. Elk were imported to the state in the 1980s from out west — including CWD-positive Colorado ... Kentucky may not be CWD-free at all — the disease simply may not have been found yet...

Deer declining at Land Between the Lakes April 16, 2016 Kentucky, The Courier-Journal
... Deer numbers are dwindling on the 40-mile-long, 10-mile-wide heavily timbered peninsula that separates Lake Barkley and Kentucky Lake ... Suspected and known reasons for the decline ... include increased hunting pressure ... lingering effects from a severe outbreak of Epizootic Hemorrhagic Disease (EHD) in 2007 ... coyote predation is also taking an unknown number of LBL deer...

Kentucky data:  A 2016 population estimated at 820,000 after the 2015-16 hunting season, with above one million pre-hunt in 2016.  A strong acorn crop in 2016.  A population of about one million deer 2014 and 2015 through 2016 pre-hunt with a likely modest upward trend.   A wet spring and summer in 2016 provided lots of food for deer.  Two harsh winters in 2012-13 and 2013-14 were offset somewhat by good mast production.  Rain in the 2015 summer increased deer forage, but poor white acorn production.  Herds have rebounded from an Epizootic Hemorrhagic Disease (EHD) outbreak in 2012, 2010 and a severe outbreak in 2007.  Scattered outbreaks in 2015.
     The population is about the same level as prior to the 2007 EHD outbreak.  A 2014 post-hunt deer population of about 800,000 to 900,000.  A 2013 estimated 821,731 population post-hunt, a 4 percent decrease from 2012.  Fawn production was average in 2014 despite a cold winter. The acorn crop was modest, but farmers increased acres of corn and soybeans. About 850,000 to  900,000 in 2012 and 2013, up from an estimated 740,000 deer in 2011, which was down a little from the previous recent peak of 800,000.  Populations in Grayson, Ohio and Breckenridge counties have rebounded since the severe Epizootic Hemorrhagic Disease outbreak in 2007, less severe in 2010. For 2015, deer populations in Hopkins, Larue, Green, Nelson and Bullitt countiesexceeded targets so more antlerless deer were to be harvested.  In 2015, 70 deer per square mile prior to hunt in Owen county.
     About 300,000 deer permits were sold in 2014.  Hunter success rate of about 34 percent.  Hunters took 138,898 deer.   A record of 144,409 taken in the 2013-14 season.  Hunter numbers have been around 270,000 for the past 20 years. 
      Approximately stable population over the past 10 years, but the declining population in parts of southeastern Kentucky is under study.  The state manages toward achieving balanced herd demographics, bucks were about 54 percent of the 2013 harvest.   Management goals are: Zone 1, herd reduction; Zone 2, keep herds at present population levels; Zone 3, slow herd growth; and Zone 4, maximum herd growth.  About 270,000 deer hunters for the past 20 years.
    The deer herd was hunted to near extinction in the early 1900's.  By 1915 only a few deer remained in western Kentucky.  Conservation efforts restored the deer.  Several thousand by the early  1940's.  By the late 1960's and early 70's the herd was estimated at about 35,000 but growing very slowly, in part due to over harvest.   By 1979 the total deer harvest was about 9,000.  With  better management the herd grew from about 64,000 in 1978 to a 149,000 in 1981.  A state population model gave an estimate of 206,557 deer in 1986.  Then 350,000 in 1988.  About 460,000 in 1989, 610 by 1999. The state was stocking deer to increase the population until 1999, the first year all counties were open to hunting.  Herd population stabilized in the early 2000's. In 2004, the limit on antlerless deer was lifted for Zone 1. 
    Elk from Kansas were reintroduced to the state beginning in 1997, over five years 1547 were released.  The elk came from western states such as Utah.  The herd has grown to more than 11,000 in 2016, the largest in the eastern states.
    A Mountain Lion killed in Bourbon County at the end of 2014 was the first confirmed siting since before the Civil War.  Lions were once native.
    Bear population has grown to about 1,000 by 2016.

Report sick deer to 1-800-858-1549 or  email reports to Kentucky Fish and Wildlife at info.center@ky.gov

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