Black Bear Spotted in Cherokee County
PRATT – The report of a black bear sighting in Cherokee County last weekend was verified by Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism (KDWPT) biologists with photographs and tracks. A black bear was videoed on Saturday, June 20 and photographed on Sunday, June 21 in locations about 16 miles apart. Tracks in soft soil were also identified.
According to KDWPT furbearer biologist Matt Peek, it is uncertain whether this was one or two separate bears, but both the video and photos appeared to show a young animal.
“It’s common for yearling black bears to disperse into new areas seeking their own home range,” Peek said. “Missouri biologists have reported seeing a lot of this lately.”
These transient bears probably account for the handful of black bear reports in Kansas in recent years. Most reports occur in far southwest Kansas, where multiple dispersal-aged bears have been documented since 2000.
Cherokee County is the farthest southeast county in Kansas, nearest Missouri, Oklahoma, and Arkansas where viable black bear populations exist, making it the most likely spot for bears to enter Kansas. While no permanent population of black bears has been verified in Kansas, they occurred in the eastern third of the state prior to settlement.
Black bears are usually nonaggressive. However, they are large, powerful, wild animals and should be given respect and space. Human/bear conflicts in other states usually occur when a bear locates food near a house. Care should be taken to not allow any bear access to pet food, birdseed or grain. There is no hunting season on black bears in Kansas, and they may not be shot for mere presence. Do not attempt to approach a bear, even from a distance.
For more information on rare wildlife sightings in Kansas, visit www.ksoutdoors.com/Wildlife-Habitats/Wildlife-Sightings.