The population of black bears is on the rise in Oklahoma, according to new research posted in Oklahoma State University's State magazine.
The article says that black bears are becoming increasingly prevalent in the eastern and southeastern parts of the state. The rise is partly due to Arkansas' increased bear population, as the bears have naturally dispersed to parts of Oklahoma.
The largest group of black bears in the state calls the Ouachita Mountains area home, while the Ozark Mountains area holds a smaller population.
“The Ouachita National Forest in the southeast provides a large, contiguous stretch of forest that is an excellent habitat for bears since it provides many of their main food items like berries and acorns,” said Natural Resource Ecology and Management graduate student Erica Perez. “The area in the Ozark region is much more fragmented due to human development, making it less able to support a big population like in the Ouachita region.”
148 bears are currently tagged in the Ouachitas area, as researchers study reproduction habits and and when bears are leaving their dens.