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Black bear hunts to begin Thursday in Oklahoma

BY JULIE BISBEE Modified: September 27, 2009 at 7:16 pm •  Published: September 27, 2009
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Oklahoma will become the 29th state to allow bear hunting when the season opens later this week.

Hunters will be able to hunt black bears in four southeastern Oklahoma counties beginning Thursday. Lawmakers last session approved a measure to legalize the hunting. Gov. Brad Henry signed the bill into law in April.


Hunting is limited to Latimer, Le Flore, McCurtain and Pushmataha counties. In those counties, residents say bears have become a nuisance, disturbing people and getting into trash.

Hunters must purchase a special license. Only 20 bears may be killed during the archery and muzzle loader season.

When the quota is met, the season will end.

Hunters must check by phone or online at wildlifedepartment.com to make sure the quota hasn’t been met before hunting each day.

"We’re pretty excited about it,” said Micah Holmes, spokesman for the state Department of Wildlife Conservation. "It’s a big deal for us. There has been a lot of interest in it, and it has been a long time coming.”

The price of a license for in-state hunters is $100; it’s $500 for nonresidents. The proceeds from the license will go to the agency, which is funded primarily by user fees, Holmes said.

The law forbids hunters from using dogs to chase bears up into trees. Hunters can set out bait if they are on private property, but bears cannot be baited on public land, Holmes said.

Since 1991, the Department of Wildlife Conservation has received about 500 calls of bears being a nuisance, Holmes said. Officials went out to investigate about half the calls, he said. Ed Godfrey: The state's first bear season begins...


Black bears in Oklahoma

→Oklahoma is the 29th state to have a bear hunting season. The season will only be in Latimer, Le Flore, McCurtain and Pushmataha counties.

→Hunters can only harvest 20 black bears during the season. Archery season begins Thursday. Muzzle loader season begins Oct. 24, unless the quota

is met.

→Black bears in Oklahoma come from Arkansas, which re-introduced the species to wilderness areas in the Ozark and Ouachita mountains in the late 1950s and 1960s. The bears came from northern Minnesota and Manitoba, Canada.

→Biologists estimate there are at least 500 bears in Oklahoma.

→The bears’ average age is 3.7 years old.

The bear facts
→About 30,000 bears are harvested in the United States each year.

→Bears can travel as fast as 35 mph.

→Female black bears weigh between 100 and 300 pounds.

→Male black bears weigh up to 400 pounds.

→Bears live up to 25 years.

Source: State Wildlife Conservation Department

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