Black Bears Are On The Rise In Oklahoma
You know, when you think of the many different native wild animals in Oklahoma, bear doesn't seem to be at the top of that list. In fact, most people don't even know bear exist in Oklahoma. Biologists swear that black bear roamed the plains long before man settled in this state, I suppose I'll take their word for it.
After settling the land in the late 1800's, native bear seemed to disappear from Oklahoma. Whether it was due to hunting or just plain nuisance animal eradication, we don't know. The bear doesn't have the same level of study and story as the American bison does in these parts, but they're as much a part of Oklahoma as red dirt. In the early 1900's, 250 black bear were reintroduced to parts of Southeastern Oklahoma. Two specific areas of the Quachita and Ozark Mountain ranges. 120-ish years later, bear sightings far from SEOK is becoming pretty common. They've been spotted nearly all the way up the Eastern Oklahoma border, and as far into the plains as Oklahoma County (OKC).
As much time as I've spent outdoors in the last twenty years, it was kind of shocking to read where bear were added to the hunting list back in 2009. As their numbers have apparently flourished, there is a place in time when growing numbers must be managed. A lot of people think this is cruel, killing animals for sport, but without hunting, populations of almost all game animals would suffer. As habitats fill up, food shortages occur and populations become unhealthy. As hunting in Oklahoma provides nearly a billion dollars to local economies, it's a good thing. Oklahoma makes money, and we all get to harvest our own food.