Bear conservation, hunting workshops announced

By Assistant Chief Jack Austin Jr.
September 1, 2023

The black bear population in the Choctaw Nation is now at a healthy level after nearly being eradicated from Oklahoma due to overhunting.

Southeast Oklahoma is once again home to a healthy, growing population of black bears. The Oklahoma Department of Wildlife (ODWC) opened a black bear season in 2009. Originally the season was only available in McCurtain, Pushmataha, Latimer and LeFlore. Since then, it has expanded to include all counties east of Highway 69/75 and south of I-40.

The Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma Wildlife Conservation Department will be conducting bear conservation and hunting workshops at Choctaw Community Centers across the reservation. Workshops are open to the public and no registration is required. The workshops are designed to go over what is expected of hunters during black bear hunting season.

With the season approaching, as part of these programs, bear biologist Jeff Ford will be highlighting black bear hunting techniques, field care, and conservation efforts. The CNO team will also be available to explain harvest check-in (bear and other game), and season bag limits and answer questions.

Workshops will be held on the following dates at Choctaw Community Centers:

  • August 24 – Poteau – 5 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.
  • September 9 – Broken Bow –10 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.
  • September 14 – Antlers – 5 pm to 8:30 p.m.
  • September 21 – Talihina –5 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.

The events are open to the public, and there will be door prize giveaways.

Black bears may be harvested by archery from Oct. 1 to Oct. 16 and muzzleloader from Oct. 22 to Oct. 30.

The Choctaw Nation made history this past fall by administering our first hunting and fishing seasons. When the State of Oklahoma failed to renew the hunting and fishing licenses on Dec. 31, 2021, tribal leadership exercised our sovereignty by ensuring the rights of tribal members to hunt and fish within the Choctaw Nation Reservation.

In the CNO’s inaugural black bear hunting season, a total of 1,123 black bear permits were issued to tribal members compared to the 530 black bear tags issued by ODWC. With the 200% increase in hunting pressure, there was concern of over-harvesting being a possibility. That turned out not to be the case. ODWC hunters had a success rate of 9.8% compared to the success rate of 0.7% for Choctaw tribal hunters.

For questions contact the CNO Wildlife Conservation department at [email protected]. Yakoke in advance for your participation in these important hunter-education and conservation events!

Yakoke and God Bless!