Kentucky Wildlife Action Plan

By the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies

Kentucky’s Wildlife Action Plan provides background information and the framework needed to protect the state’s wildlife species and their habitats. Kentucky used a species-based approach to developing the Action Plan. A list of 251 species was identified as having a great need for conservation work. Detailed accounts were developed for each species that included distribution maps, habitat requirements and condition of their populations. In order to give consideration to both individual species and habitat types, species were assigned to groups (guilds) based on the similarities of habitat used, then conservations strategies and actions were then assigned to the habitat guilds. 


As approximately 93 percent of Kentucky is privately owned, successful stewardship of the state’s plants and animals rests firmly in the hands of private landowners. Working with landowners is critical to the success of our Wildlife Action Plan.

Wildlife Highlights

Many different habitat types, ranging from highland forests, grassland barrens and swamps, support a variety of animals. Small headwater streams, winding creeks and the expansive Ohio and Mississippi Rivers support an even more diverse group of fish and freshwater mussels.

Primary Challenges to Conserving Wildlife in Kentucky

Kentucky’s Wildlife Action Plan identified priority conservation actions for both terrestrial and aquatic habitat guilds. Protecting habitat through acquisition, easements or economic incentives with private landowners is an important strategy across species and habitat groups, as is developing partnerships with other state and Federal agencies and other conservation organizations. There is also a great need for long-term monitoring of at-risk species to detect population trends for species that currently lack long-term data sets; this is particularly true for aquatic species and herpetofauna.

Working Together for Kentucky’s Wildlife

Since 1993 extensive public surveys have been conducted in order to understand public attitudes and preferences for wildlife conservation in Kentucky. This detailed, pre-existing data was used in developing the Wildlife Action Plan. Several news releases, an article in Kentucky Afield magazine, and links on the Department’s web page were used to inform the public of the state’s efforts. Additionally, input was solicited from 44 experts representing five federal agencies, three state agencies, eleven universities, and seven private organizations to provide detailed information needed to develop the plan.


The Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies represents all of North America’s fish and wildlife agencies, promotes sound management and conservation, and speaks with a unified voice on important fish and wildlife issues.

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