March 18, 2024

Legislation to Restructure the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources Passes Senate Despite Opposition

Article Contact: Conner Barker,

Why It Matters: Kentucky would be the first state in the country to place the management of its fish and wildlife agency under its Department of Agriculture and give all Wildlife Commissioner appointments to its Commissioner of Agriculture, which is a significant departure from how fish and wildlife resources have been managed since the early 20th Century when modern wildlife management programs were established.

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.
  • The Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) coordinated an action alert with a ride range of conservation partners asking sportsmen and women in Kentucky to encourage their elected officials to oppose Senate Bill 3.
  • On March 12, CSF, among other sporting-conservation partners, gathered at the State Capitol to deliver oral testimony before the Senate Agriculture Committee (Committee) opposing Senate Bill 3.
  • Unfortunately, Senate Bill 3 was reported favorably out of Committee, and it passed the Senate on a 20-16 vote. CSF encourages Kentucky sportsmen and women to respectfully express their concerns with Senate Bill 3 to the House Committee on Committees where it has been assigned.

On March 12, a passel of sportsmen and women from across the Commonwealth attended the Committee hearing to oppose Senate Bill 3. CSF’s Coordinator, Southeastern States, and lifelong Kentuckian, Conner Barker, testified before the Committee, along with several other sporting-conservation partners. In his testimony, Conner stated that Senate Bill 3 “is not the best solution long-term for managing fish and wildlife resources, public trust resources that are managed largely with sportsmen and women generated dollars.” Furthermore, Conner added that “agricultural priorities may conflict with professional, science-based fish and wildlife management.”

Kentucky Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus (Caucus) Chair and former National Assembly of Sportsmen’s Caucuses Executive Council President and current Member, Senator Robin Webb, who is a member of the Committee, expressed strong opposition to Senate Bill 3 during the hearing and voted against the bill. In her comments, Senator Webb stressed that the North American Model of Wildlife Conservation is the envy of the world for professional, science-based wildlife management. Senator Webb further stated that the KDFWR, its Commission selection, and public input process have been successful in managing Kentucky’s fish and wildlife resources and expressed reservations about merging agriculture and wildlife management.

CSF thanks the Senators that voted against Senate Bill 3 and especially is thankful to Senator Webb for her leadership opposing the bill. will continue working with our partners and the Caucus to protect Kentucky’s sporting heritage from the intrusion of agricultural interests into wildlife management. CSF encourages Kentuckians to respectfully express their opposition to Senate Bill 3 to members of the House Committee on Committees.

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