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AUG 24th - Byron talks to Mike Shaw about the research project on bears in Oklahoma

  After reviewing the current research project with Dr. Leslie at OSU Byron made further contact with Mike Shaw.

 Mike was quick to remind Byron saying "Black bears are NOT game animals yet." after having read the article by Byron regarding the State Wildlife Grant Program where Byron became concerned black bears were becoming Game Animals (article republished below) he assuaged Byron's fears and clarified saying

  "In order for that to happen, we must change Title 800 rules, and that can happen only after we bring the proposal before the public at hearings which will be conducted this winter.

  Then, if the public supports the measure, it must be presented to the wildlife commission and they must vote to change the rule.  The final step in the process is a review of the new rule by the legislature and securing the governor's signature." 

Mike is a veteran in the field of Wildlife Management with more than twenty years of service in the department of wildlife.


Mike Shaw (left) doing field research

July 20 -  Oklahoma City

 Byron spoke with Mike Shaw the Wildlife Research Supervisor in the Wildlife Division of the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation and asked Mike Shaw specifically about the study taking place regarding Oklahoma bear populations.

  Mike responded that it was actually an ongoing study through the past three years to determine the population and ranges
of Black Bears.

 He suggested Byron contact Dr Leslie in Stillwater at the Oklahoma State University.






  Dr Leslie leader of the Oklahoma Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit at Oklahoma State University.

Byron Bear asked how they could determine preferred habitat? Dr Leslie replied,
"There are hair snares scattered throughout the Ouachita Mountains.  We have taken over a thousand hair samples that are being analyzed genetically."

"The hair is used to identify individual bears and the sex of each bear they monitor. There was also tracking done with radio collars during the first phase of the project."

July 22 - Stillwater, OK

 Byron spoke with Dr Leslie Friday. Dr. Leslie Ph.D. is Unit Leader of the Oklahoma Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit  at OSU said "they are concentrating on the distribution, population and habitat preference of Black Bear within the state. Which was the first stage of the project"

"We're in the second phase now. We began the project in January of 1999 and will likely be done with the study by the summer of 2008.

 Once completed we will make our recommendations to the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation as to whether there is a sustainable population of Black Bear which would allow hunting of them." said Dr Leslie. "We also have a project which is
very similar and is concerned with River Otters".



July 19 - Oklahoma City

Bears are Game Animals NOW!

With Bears now being listed as game animals, they must come under the same protection of other hunted species through a grant made available to states during a recent action of Congress to preserve natural fauna before they become endangered.

  It simply costs less for the tax payer to keep a species from falling into the endangered category than to bring one back to from the brink of the endangered list.

The Senate was able to recover conservation funding, which was announced on June 27th of this year.   The U.S. Senate recently increased wildlife funding for State Grant Programs by $17.5M. Senator Inhoff was pleased and stated,
"The State Wildlife Grants Program is one of our nation's greatest opportunities to prevent species from needing the emergency care of the Endangered Species Act"

Prior to these State Wildlife Fundings there were no federal funds which focused upon preventing species populations decline.  Our own greatest attention is upon the indigenous population of black bear in Oklahoma though we are also intent upon conservation as it provides both for the public as well as the wildlife of our great state.




Some bears are migrating into Oklahoma from an earlier release program

In 1958, the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission began translocating black bears (Ursus americanus) from Minnesota to the Interior Highlands (Ozark and Ouachita mountains) of Arkansas where bears had been extirpated early in this century. This project continued for 11 years with little public input, during which time an estimated 254 bears were released. We estimate there are now 2,500 bears in the Interior Highlands of Arkansas, Missouri, and Oklahoma, making it one of the most successful translocations of a Carnivora. Factors that contributed to the success include use of wild-captured animals, elimination of major factors associated with extirpation, release into prime habitats within the former range, multiple release sites, release of 20-40 animals/year for eight years, and release of mostly males prior to release of mostly females. Studies on two allopatric populations demonstrate that they are now diverging in some demographic characteristics, including litter size, cub survivorship, and adult sex-ratio. Translocation of black bears to the Interior Highlands is successful in terms of numbers of animals, but it will not be truly successful until people accept black bears as part of the regional fauna. To that end, those associated with management and research of bears in Arkansas are now focusing on public education and control of nuisance bears.

*source Arkansas Game and Fish Commission


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