Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Units Program: Oklahoma
Education, Research and Technical Assistance for Managing Our Natural Resources

Oklahoma Project

Evaluating the population status of black bears in the Oklahoma Panhandle

January 2022 - June 2024


Participating Agencies

  • Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation

The American black bear (Ursus americanus) is an economically and ecologically important game species of management interest across its distribution. Western Oklahoma has seen an increase in black bear observations and bear-human conflict reports. It is unclear if bears occurring in the Oklahoma panhandle constitute a resident population or transient individuals dispersing from neighboring states. To effectively manage bears in western Oklahoma and minimize or mitigate bear-human conflicts, managers require reliable information on the distribution, abundance, and origin of bears in the region. The objectives of this study are to (1) identify factors influencing black bear detection, evaluate black bear space use, and identify factors associated with black bear occurrence, (2) estimate the number and sex ratio of black bears, and (3) assess connectivity of black bears in the Oklahoma panhandle with populations in New Mexico and Colorado. This research is a collaboration between the USGS Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, Oklahoma State University, and the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation.

Presentations Presentation Date
Kleeberg, B.A., W.S. Fairbanks, J.R. Adams, L.P. Waits, and R.C. Lonsinger. 2024. Estimating population genetic structure and genetic diversity of black bears in western Oklahoma. Oklahoma Chapter of The Wildlife Society Annual Meeting, Edmond, OK. February 2024
Hubler, S., B.A. Kleeberg, J.M. Humm, C.N. Dotterweich, R.C. Lonsinger, and W.S. Fairbanks. 2024. Comparison of black bear (Ursus americanus) diets in eastern and western Oklahoma. American Society of Mammalogists Annual Meeting, Boulder, CO. June 2024
Buie, M.D., B.A. Kleeberg, W.S. Fairbanks, M.C. Chitwood, R.C. Lonsinger. 2024. Estimating species richness in an ephemeral system. Undergraduate Research Symposium, Stillwater, OK. April 2024