Senate Bill 1296 was signed into law by Governor Brad Henry on May 9, 2006. This bill provides for a hunting season on black bear, mountain lions and limited trapping of otter. But wildlife officials are saying that just because the Governor signed the bill doesn’t mean there is going to be a bear hunt anytime soon.

A five-year study of the black bear has been extended for another year and a half and it appears no bear hunts will take place during this study period.

Wildlife officials report that the bear population is growing rapidly with cubs being born at 2 to 3 at a time. The most bears can be found in the southeast part of the state but other populations exist in the panhandle and in the northeast. More human – bear encounters are showing up and nuisance bears are generally trapped and released to another location. Three bears have been euthanized because of problems.

It appears that wannabe bear hunters in Oklahoma are going to have to wait awhile longer but mountain lion hunters should get a year-round open season on a minimal cat population. Officials say the lion hunt will be similar to the one used in Texas.

Tom Remington