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Bears hunting for new food sources in Oklahoma

From small pests to potentially big ones, wildlife is affected by drought.
BY ROBERT MEDLEY rmedley@opubco.com Published: July 22, 2011
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Hungry bears are on the prowl in eastern Oklahoma, where drought conditions seem to have disrupted normal feeding patterns.

The extreme heat is changing bear behavior, said Lance Meek, Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation spokesman.

“Be extra cautious around bears this time of year with this heat,” Meek said. “With 30-plus days of 100-degree heat and the animal wearing a black fur coat, their behavior is different.”

The drought has caused a scarcity of blackberries, acorns and wild grapes in parts of Oklahoma, so bears are venturing out in search of hummingbird feeders, deer feeders with corn, dog or cat food bowls and trash cans. Bears are most numerous in southeast Oklahoma but are showing up now in the northeast, Meek said.

Bears spotted north

Gary Hardesty, 67, who lives north of Tahlequah in Cherokee County, has captured photos of bears on his property in recent weeks.

“They're hungry,” he said. “There is just not a lot of foliage out there because it's all drying up. And bears will eat anything.”

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