Wildlife Study Finds More Than Two Dozen Black Bears Living in Oklahoma Panhandle

KOKH - April 24, 2024 5:52 am

Camera traps set up in the panhandle captured more than two dozen black bears living near Black Mesa. (Courtesy: Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation)

After spending two summers setting up cameras and hair snares in the panhandle, an OSU graduate student has a better picture of the black bear population in the area.

According to the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation, Bailey Kleeberg studied black bears in Cimarron County to get some answers.

Black bears are known to live in far southeastern Oklahoma, but a small population also lives in the furthest west corner of Oklahoma near Black Mesa.

Kleeberg found 26 black bears living in Cimarron County. Those bears were found to be genetically similar to a population living in northeastern New Mexico.

To discover the population, Kleeberg met with landowners and set up camera traps within 160 grids, each about 1,500 acres in size. Of the 160 cameras, 20 captured black bears throughout two summers. The cameras that didn’t capture a black bear were then moved to areas where they were detected, resulting in 80 sites capturing the elusive bear.

The study was funded by the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service through a grant. Matching resources were provided by Oklahoma State University and the USGS Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit.

For more information about the study, click here.


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