Oklahoma Looking To End Harvest Restrictions

Ok Dept. Of Wildlife Conservation, Bear Hunting Magazine

The Oklahoma Department of Wildlife is proposing changes in bear hunting regulations for 2012. One proposal looks at expanding the black bear hunting areas and another proposal would eliminate the total limit of twenty black bears that could be taken by hunters during each season.

That quota has been in place since black bear hunting was legalized three years ago in the four southeastern Oklahoma counties. Under the new proposal, archery season would open October 1st and end the third Sunday of October. There would be no limit on the total number of bears that could be harvested by bowhunters.

A twenty bear quota would be imposed during the black bear muzzleloader season that follows. While hunters did not get twenty bears during the first black bear season, the past two years the limit has been reached.

The black bear season opened and closed the same day in 2010 and lasted 48 hours in 2011.

State wildlife officials do not believe that bears would be harvested at that same rate during a three-week season. As it is now, hunters are shooting the first bear they see because they know the season may be over by nightfall, stated a wildlife chief for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation.

"Bow hunters are going to be more selective and pass on younger and smaller bears if they know they have three weeks to hunt," he said.

His guess is that between 60-70 bears would be taken if the new regulations are approved. While no one knows for sure the number of black bears in Oklahoma, state wildlife officials say the population is expanding and can support additional hunting opportunities.

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