Nov 02 2009 -
OK Dept. Of Wildlife Conservation
Oklahoma's first bear season ended with a total of 19 bears being taken as of Sunday night.
The hunting season ran one month, from October 1, s009 to November 1, 2009. It was open for archery hunting only until October 24th, then hunters could use either a muzzleloader or bow to hunt with. The final information is still pending, but the state estimates that between 150 and 200 hunters purchased the special $100 bear hunting tags.
The one big surprise came with the makeup of the harvest. It was assumed bears that had a habit of getting into trouble would show during hunting season, but the didn't.
"It was kind of surprising that we didn't get any tagged bears," said Joe Hemphill southeast region supervisor for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation. More than 100 bears in the four-county area open to the hunt had been tagged for research or as nuisance bears, and none of them turned up among the 19 killed, he said.
The lack of tagged bears also reflects on the number of bears in the area, Hemphill said. The limit of 20 was set as a conservative harvest, 10 percent, of the most conservative population estimate, 200. "With well over 100 marked bears out there, that tells me there is a large amount of bears if we harvest almost 20 and did not get a single one," he said. "The upper end of that population estimate was 700. In my opinion, there's a lot more than that."
Of the bears taken, eleven were in LeFlore County, three were in Pushmataha, three were in McCurtain and two were in Latimer, he stated. Biological information from the harvested bears, especially age information from teeth taken from the animals, will help biologists make decisions about any future black bear hunts, Hemphill said. "We'll be pulling that information together quickly," he said.