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_A Pike County man became the first hunter in 100 years to kill a black bear in Kentucky during a legal hunt. Danny Smith, a 35-year-old from Phelps, killed the 265-pound black bear on Saturday in Pike County. Last year marked the first time in 100 years hunters were allowed a bear hunt in Kentucky, but bad weather in eastern Kentucky kept them from making any kills. Fish and Wildlife officials said a 280-pound bear was taken Sunday in Harlan County. Smith bought a bear license after seeing signs of a bear during a hunt for coyotes, according to a release from Fish and Wildlife officials. He found a promising area and using binoculars, he spotted a bear about 240 yards away. He shot the animal with a .270-caliber rifle.

__Smith said he is “hooked for life” on hunting bear. The state also recorded its first-ever bear attack in June when a hiker in the Red River Gorge area was mauled by a black bear. The bear was never located. Black bears were common in Kentucky more than 100 years ago but disappeared due to over-hunting and loss of habitat. Over the past 20 years, they have found their way back, and estimates of the state’s bear population range from 100 to 350. The second bear taken during the two-day hunt was shot Sunday by Billy Joe Dixon, a miner who lives in Cumberland. Dixon shot the bear on the Harlan County mine property where he works._