Oklahoma Wildlife Commission Approves Hunt

OK News, Bear Hunting Magazine

The Oklahoma Wildlife Conservation Commission voted 5-2 this week to establish the states first black bear hunting season in four southeastern Oklahoma counties.

The hunting season is contingent upon state lawmakers passing a bill to create a black bear hunting license but both the state Senate and House of Representatives already overwhelmingly passed separate  but identical - measures that would legalize black bear hunting. The Senate bill is waiting action by the full House. The House bill is waiting action by the full Senate.

Wildlife commissioners David Riggs of Sand Springs and Mac Maguire voted against creating a black bear hunting season. Both are not convinced that Oklahoma has a large enough population of bears to support hunting. They think young bears are not adequately protected in the hunting regulations passed by the state Wildlife Commission. I think we are too young at it, Maguire said, noting that Arkansas had a population of 4,000 black bears before allowing them to be hunted.

The Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation would allow only 20 black bears to be killed during the hunting season. Hunting would be by archery and muzzleloader only.

The archery season would begin October 1, 2009 and run through the Friday before deer muzzleloader season.
Bears could be hunted with a muzzleloader, if bow hunters had not killed the limit of 20, during the same time as deer muzzleloader season, which begins October 25, 2009. No cubs or female bears with cubs could be killed. No den hunting would allowed.

No one knows for sure how many black bears reside in Oklahoma. Alan Peoples, director of the wildlife division for the state Wildlife Department, said 500 bears would be a very conservative estimate.
Oklahoma State University researchers know there are at least 500 bears in Le Flore County alone, Peoples said. We feel like weve got good science (to support a hunting season), he said. Nuisance complaints about bears continue to increase every year, Peoples said. They (bears) have actually killed livestock, he said.

If it becomes law, Oklahoma would be the 29th state to allow bear hunting.

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