Encountering a black bear in Oklahoma is a real possibility, a fact that still surprises many residents and visitors who never realized the animals are commonly seen in some parts of the state. Sightings are possible anywhere in the eastern half of the state and the western tip of the Panhandle. In the past few years, black bear sightings have been progressing farther west from the bears’ primary range in southeastern and east-central Oklahoma. In recent years, black bears have been seen in Ada and Wewoka, as far north as Grove, and as far west as Wayne. During summer months, the female bears, called sows, may have cubs in tow as they forage for food. The black bear's natural diet includes nuts, berries, grasses, insects, eggs, honey, small mammals and carrion. But bears are opportunists and can be attracted by easy food sources provided by people, such as unsecured garbage or pet food left outdoors.
When and where are human-bear conflicts most likely to occur?
- May is typically when bear reports begin coming in. These reports are weighted toward yearling, male bears that have just been kicked away from their mom and are trying to avoid mature males, find their own home range and keep their bellies full too.
- June & July may see a small drop in the number of calls because natural soft mast like blueberries & blackberries are becoming abundant.
- August is typically a high month for reports as soft mast sources diminish and grasses and other vegetation dry out or become unpalatable.
- Typically the first time a bear encounters a human space is at night. However, if they are rewarded by food sources and do not receive any negative stimuli from the night time visits, they may become more bold and visit during the day.
- Bears will typically visit human residences that are surrounded by easy to access escape cover. This means sparsely populated areas nestled in the woods or directly adjacent to a large timber block.
- Bears are most likely to risk exploring near a residence when there are attractants such as bird feeders, deer corn feeder, bee apiaries, pet food, etc.
Bear Density Statewide
Orange: Areas of greatest concentration.
Green: Areas where bears are uncommon, but have been sighted or where sightings are anticipated.