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Wildland Fires, Dry Conditions Create Hazards for Deer Hunters


More than 300,000 Kentucky hunters preparing for this weekend’s modern gun deer season opener should be aware there are at least 22 wild land fires burning, many in southeast Kentucky, as drought conditions persist across the state. About 14,000 acres have burned in the Commonwealth since Oct. 29. 

Gov. Matt Bevin declared a statewide emergency last week and urged all citizens to refrain from outdoor burning and use extreme caution during outdoor activities.

“Hunters can help by using camp stoves and lanterns instead of building campfires and by being diligent in extinguishing any cigarettes,” said Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources Commissioner Greg Johnson. “We also need to be mindful of hot exhausts on our trucks, cars and ATVs. Hot exhausts easily can start fires given the exceptionally dry conditions that exist now nearly everywhere.”

Fifty-two counties have instituted burning bans across the Commonwealth. They include: Adair, Ballard, Barren, Bath, Bell, Boyd, Breathitt, Butler, Calloway, Carlisle, Carter, Clark, Clay, Clinton, Cumberland, Edmonson, Elliott, Fleming, Floyd, Franklin, Fulton, Graves, Harlan, Harrison, Hart, Hickman, Jackson, Johnson, Knott, Knox, Laurel, Lawrence, Lee, Leslie, Letcher, Livingston, Magoffin, Marshall, McCracken, McCreary, Monroe, Montgomery, Nicholas, Owsley, Perry, Pike, Rockcastle, Rowan, Warren, Wayne, Webster and Whitley counties.

More than 400 firefighters from at least eight agencies are working round the clock to extinguish the wild land fires, but Kentucky Department for Natural Resources officials say without a soaking rain and safe fire practices by individuals, staying ahead of the fires will be very difficult.

Conservation officers from Kentucky Fish and Wildlife will be on heightened alert as well. “We will be watching for careless or willful misuse of fire, and any other practices that could easily lead to a wildfire,” Johnson said.

Hunters should keep plenty of water on hand while afield, and take extra caution in and around areas that have recently burned. Fire-weakened trees and limbs can fall without warning. Hunters should be vigilant to the location of active fires as well, since changing wind conditions can cause fires to shift and trap people. Hunters, hikers and other outdoors enthusiasts also should stay clear of the hundreds of firefighters who will be working through the weekend battling wildfires. These personnel will be wearing yellow clothing.

Safety is foremost. Hunters should be certain of their target and background. Hunters also can help tremendously by being vigilant. Anyone observing a fire condition should call the Poaching Hotline at 1-800-25-ALERT (1-800-252-5378).

Story provided by (Kentucky Department of Fish & Wildlife)