Bear Kinship

Bear Spirit


Oklahoma Bear Hunt allows for the killing of Mothers with cubs!

To Brenden:

Do you know anyone in Oklahoma that would attend a wildlife meeting in South Oklahoma? There's one going on in Lawton on the 13th at the Lawton Public Library. The hunt will take place Oct 1 and there is NO provision for Mothers with cubs. They may be killed. Cubs with their mothers at that time of year have not yet learned how to den, killing the mother, dooms the cubs. I need help on this one. Anyone you can get to go to one of those meetings? Someone in Oklahoma writing their state representative can also send an email since the legislature must determine how the licenses are apportioned. They are going to take 20 bears from a population of between 400-500 bears.


Response from Steve Stringham

Dear Folks

In additional to whatever ethical/emotional appeal you might want to make, you might consider this issue from the perspective of population biology. That is, demand that the OK game dept. justify their quota in these terms. Here is a template. They would have to provide more exact figures:

Assume population size 400 bears with a 50:50 sex ratio; so the population would have roughly 200 females Assume that females birth their first litter at age 5, and that 50% of all females are at least 5 years old. So the population would have roughly 100 reproductive-age females. Assume that 50% of all females that old (i.e., about 50 adult females) have dependent cubs each year. Assume (as a worst-case scenario) that all cubs die within a few months if their mother is shot by a hunter, whether or not she survives.

Assume an average litter size of 2 cubs during the hunting season (it might be higher earlier in the year). If adults are harvested randomly, then there is a 1 in 4 chance that any bear shot by a hunter will be a sow with dependent cubs. So, if 20 bears are shot, this would include roughly 5 sows with dependent cubs. So the total death toll would be 20 adults and 10 cubs, or 30 total deaths -- half-again the quota. Suggest that unless sows with dependent cubs are illegal to shoot, the quota be reduced to 13 or 14 adults. That would allow for the collateral deaths of up to 6-7 cubs, due to the deaths of 3 or 4 sows.

Of course, each sow dying this year reduces productivity of the population for years to come. How has the game department addressed sow and cub deaths on the population's growth rate and sustainable harvest quota?

Steve Stringham

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