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Oklahoma wildlife agency says black bear numbers increasing

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) - The Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation says black bear sightings are becoming more common as they expand their habitat beyond eastern Oklahoma.

Officials say black bears have been seen in recent years in places where no modern record of sightings had existed, places like Broken Arrow, Tahlequah, Muskogee, Wewoka and Ada.

The bear's range has primarily been in Latimer, Le Flore, Pushmataha and McCurtain counties in southeastern Oklahoma, and in Adair, Cherokee and Sequoyah counties in east-central Oklahoma. But that range has been expanding westward.

Wildlife agency information and education chief Nels Rodefeld says there is a chance that anyone who is east of Interstate 35 might see a black bear. And it's increasingly likely that hikers could have a bear encounter during the summer months.

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