Black bear killed after found roaming in a Norman neighborhood, but how did it end up there? Experts explain


NORMAN, Okla. (KFOR) – A young black bear was found roaming through yards in Norman on Wednesday night.

Norman police, fire crews, and workers with the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife rushed to the scene to try to tranquilize the animal.

However, officials ran out of tranquilizer darts, which they say did not appear to be working effectively on the bear.

Video of the encounter showed the bear was disoriented.

Wildlife officials made the decision to shoot and kill the 150-pound male bear.

After the bear ended up in someone’s backyard, experts are explaining how it may have gotten there.

They say bears in a metro area are a rare occurrence. This one was a young male black bear.

Black bears are native to the state, but many were removed in the 1900s.

In the 1950s, Arkansas reintroduced them, and they’ve been expanding west in Oklahoma.

Experts say this is the time of year when bears look for their own territory.

“In the spring, right about now, the bears, when they’re a year old, mom will start to think about kicking them out, so mom will kick out those juvenile bears, sort of making way for the next crop,” Hayley Lanier, biology professor at OU, said.

“They’re on the move looking for areas that aren’t already occupied by other bears, older male black bears, they’re looking for areas that have suitable habitat and food, and they’re looking for mates,” Micah Holmes with the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation, said.

They say it’s surprising this bear ended up in an urban area, but it’s possible it was seeking out food in trash bins or pet food bowls.

“This is very natural for a male black bear to be on the move, they move long distances looking for good habitat,” Holmes said. “They don’t recognize county boundaries or state boundaries for that matter.

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“Especially for those young animals, just like young people, they make poor choices, in terms of where to go and maybe in terms of what to do,” Lanier said.

People in Norman were also surprised to see the bear.

“We’re nowhere near a zoo so it doesn’t really make sense there’s a bear,” Genie Welbourne said.

“I’ve lived in Norman for 23 years and I’ve never seen a bear here so this is exciting,” Madison McDaniel said. “This is wild.”

Experts say if you encounter a bear near your home, call officials and stay out of its way. Also don’t put out food that can attract it. 

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