Call to Order and Roll Call
The3rd meeting of the Interim Joint Committee on Natural Resources and Environment was held on Thursday, August 4, 2016, at 1:00 PM, in Room 149 of the Capitol Annex. Representative Fitz Steele, Chair, called the meeting to order, and the secretary called the roll.
Members:Representative Fitz Steele, Co-Chair; Senators C.B. Embry Jr., Chris Girdler, Ernie Harris, Brandon Smith, Johnny Ray Turner, Robin L. Webb, and Whitney Westerfield; Representatives Hubert Collins, Tim Couch, Jim DuPlessis, Daniel Elliott, Jim Gooch Jr., Chris Harris, Cluster Howard, Reginald Meeks, Tim Moore, Rick G. Nelson, Lewis Nicholls, John Short, Jim Stewart III, Chuck Tackett, and Jill York.
Guests: Tony Hatton, Director, Kentucky Division of Waste Management.
Upon motion made by Representative Collins and seconded by Representative Tackett, the July 19, 2016 minutes were approved by voice vote and without objection.
Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources Presentation
Commissioner Greg Johnson and Deputy Commissioner Dr. Karen Waldrop of the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources provided an update on wildlife diseases and the health of Kentucky’s game species. In addition, KDFWR representatives explained no net loss for public hunting and fishing access and the progression of wildlife habitat in the state. KDFWR is ensuring the future of wildlife populations and hunting and fishing opportunities in Kentucky.
KDFWR officials responded to questions on various topics throughout the presentation.
Responding to Representative Steele’s question about donations at outdoor recreation stores, KDFWR officials said that outdoor stores do promote and support KDFWR, but do not necessarily receive direct funds from the donations.
Responding to a question from Senator Smith regarding the loss of grouse in the state, KDFWR officials said that habitat issues are the largest contributor to the loss of grouse. Coyote and aerial predators, such as owls, are the main predators of the bird.
In response to Representative Gooch’s question about Asian carp, KDFWR officials explained the species is to be taken very seriously. The private sector is aggressively pursuing Asian carp to establish a fish processing plant in western Kentucky that will process millions of pounds each week to make fish products such as fish nuggets and dog food.
Responding to Representative Moore’s question on black bears, KDFWR representatives said that, typically in late spring and early summer, two year old black bear males begin to wander around, often appearing in residential areas. KDFWR biologists track the bears individually. KDFWR officials said that they want to keep the bears in the best habitat and not near humans.
Responding to questions from Representative Collins, KDFWR officials explained that bears come into town for an “easy meal” such as they might find in garbage cans. KDFWR officials said they are working on most of their reservoirs by putting in habitat.
In response to a questions from Senator Webb, KDFWR officials said a bear conflict plan will be completed by the end of 2016. KDFWR representatives are also expecting the large cat spotted in Tennessee to turn north. KDFWR officials explained the USDA’s eradication method for feral hogs. USDA nighttime sharpshooters are used to decrease populations.
Responding to a question from Representative York, KDFWR officials have a 2015-2030 Kentucky Elk Management Plan. KDFWR officials confirmed that trading elk to other states occurs, as Kentucky has the only chronic wasting disease (CWD) free elk herd. Elk are established in a 16-county zone.
In response to a question from Senator Embry, KDFWR officials have not positively identified any mountain lion in the state other than the one officials euthanized in Bourbon County in 2014.
Responding to Representative Meeks, KDFWR officials explained that Kentucky Farm Bureau worked extensively on a water/drought plan in the state. KDFWR officials also answered a question about the Henry County feral hog population. KDFWR representatives confirmed they are working on trapping the population.
KDFWR officials explained that 110 handicap accessible piers are available in the state. All newly constructed piers being are in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act.
In response to a comment from Representative Collins, KDFWR officials agreed that the Martin County and Floyd County elk population has increased recently.
There being no further business, the meeting was adjourned. Documents distributed during the meeting are available with meeting materials in the LRC Library.