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State Capitol

Kentucky Deer Population Challenges


The commissioner for Kentucky’s Department for Fish and Wildlife says it’s hard to predict how soon the state’s deer population will rebound from a decimating disease. Greg Johnson offered testimony last week to a House subcommittee.

Johnson says hemorrhagic disease hit particular hard in Appalachia. “Deer in east Kentucky do not repopulate as quickly as they do in other parts of the state. So, right now, I’m not sure we’re prepared to forecast how quickly they might return to the population numbers, prior to blue tongue,”  said Johnson. “But, there are deer there. The ones that survive will have a resistance to the disease.” 

Deputy Commissioner Karen Waldrop says boosting deer numbers depends up the availability of food for deer.  “The acorn crop. That actually is very important for our deer population over there, whereas in other parts of the state because of agriculture and other types of habitat, they’re more dependent on other things. So, really it’s going to depend on our acorn crop the next couple of years, as far as getting those does healthy and everything,” noted Waldrop. 

Transmission of the disease is caused by a virus carrying fly or midge. Beattyville Representative Toby Herald says friends from Florida who routinely come to Kentucky to deer hunt, headed back south after just two days in eastern Kentucky. 

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