March 11, 2024

CSF Leads Coalition Opposed to Restructuring the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources

Article Contact: Conner Barker,

Why It Matters: The North American Model of Wildlife Conservation is widely recognized as one of the most successful models of wildlife conservation in the world, and one of its key components is that wildlife harvest is allocated by law, including regulatory decisions made by the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources (KDFWR) Commission. Through the “user pays – public benefits” structure of the American System of Conservation Funding, sportsmen and women largely pay for the management of public trust fish and wildlife resources, and while the agriculture and sporting communities share similar interests, the changes proposed in Senate Bill 3 could lead to regulations addressing agricultural priorities conflicting with professional, science-based fish and wildlife management.


  • Senate Bill 3 would (1) administratively attach the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources (KDFWR) to the Department of Agriculture and (2) authorize the Commissioner of Agriculture to appoint all members of the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Commission.
  • No state fish and wildlife agency in the country is attached to their respective department of agriculture, as proposed in Senate Bill 3.
  • The Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) coordinated an action alert with conservation partners asking sportsmen and women in Kentucky to encourage their elected officials to oppose Senate Bill 3.
  • CSF also submitted written testimony to the Senate Agriculture Committee, where the bill currently awaits legislative action.

The current KDFWR Commission appointment process, which is not directly tied to business interests, has been successful in managing Kentucky’s fish and wildlife resources. White-tailed deer, wild turkey, and elk have been successfully restored with sportsmen-generated dollars, and Kentucky now has the largest elk herd east of the Mississippi River and is a renowned state for hunting and fishing. Kentucky’s first case of Chronic Wasting Disease was confirmed last year, and this highlights the importance of maintaining science-based wildlife management. The KDFWR and Commission should primarily serve Kentucky’s fish and wildlife resources and the sportsmen and women of Kentucky, not agricultural interests.

Additionally, Senate Bill 3 contains an emergency clause that, if enacted, would allow the Commissioner of Agriculture to immediately begin making appointments to the KDFWR Commission. Currently, five of nine Commission seats are vacant and would therefore be subject to appointment by the Commissioner of Agriculture, potentially leading to an immediate overhaul of the KDFWR Commission favoring agricultural interests.

CSF is strongly opposed to this legislation and will continue working with our partners working to protect Kentucky’s sporting heritage from the intrusion of agricultural interests into wildlife management.


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