does arkansas have bears

Does Arkansas Have Bears?

Arkansas is home to black bears and we have thousands of them. They have been making a comeback since the 1960s.

You probably know Arkansas as “The Natural State.” However, before that, we were known as “The Bear State.”

Black bears were previously very abundant in Arkansas. However, due to over-harvesting and habitats being cut down for farmland, by the 1930s, Arkansas was home to less than 50 black bears.

Thankfully, black bears are making a comeback in Arkansas.

“Recovery of black bears in Arkansas represents one of the most successful re-introductions of a large carnivore ever achieved. The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission successfully reintroduced 254 black bears from Minnesota and Manitoba, Canada, into the Ouachita and Ozark Mountains of Arkansas between 1958 and 1968. With the help of regulated hunting and habitat improvements in the Interior Highlands region of Arkansas , black bear populations have increased.”source

It is currently estimated that there are over 3,000 black bears in our forests. (source)

Where are bears located in Arkansas?

Black bears in Arkansas are mostly located in the Ozark National Forest, Ouachita National Forest and in the southeast corner of Arkansas near the Arkansas River (known as the the lower White River basin).

Arkansas black bear

What kind of bears are in Arkansas?

Black bears are the only type of bears that live in Arkansas.

Are there Grizzlies in Arkansas?

There are no wild Grizzly bears in Arkansas. However, you can find them at one of our zoos in Arkansas if you want to see them up close.

Today, the Zoo is home to two grizzly bear sisters, Ann and Nona. They were born outside of Yellowstone Park, but their mother taught them to look for food in human-occupied areas, so the cubs were moved here in 1992.

Little Rock Zoo

Do I need bear spray in Arkansas?

Carrying bear spray while hiking or camping in our National Forests is never a bad thing. However, you don’t need any sort of “fancy bear spray.” A simple can of pepper spray will do the trick if a black bear approaches you and won’t go away.

Another alternative to pepper spray is just acting aggressive and yelling. Many people have experienced that black bears will run away when someone yells at them.

Are Arkansas bears brown?

Arkansas only has black bears but not all black bears are black. Surprisingly, black bears can also be brown or cinnamon colored.

Not all black bears are black—their fur can range in color from pure white to a cinnamon color to very dark brown or black. Most populations have a mixture of these colors, including the pure white form, which is found in some individuals in the island archipelago in southern British Columbia (Kermodi Island).


Do bears hibernate in Arkansas?

Yes, bears hibernate in Arkansas. Black bears “den for approximately 100 days or so each winter.” –source

Are there bears in Mountain Home, Arkansas?

There have been reports of black bears in the Mountain Home area especially around Norfork Lake.

Are black bears aggressive?

Although bears are considered one of many dangerous animals in Arkansas, black bears tend to be less aggressive than the well-known grizzly bear. However, while hiking in Arkansas or enjoying some of the best camping in Arkansas, you should always take precautions and stay away from bears.

Black bears are not territorial toward people like some dogs are. Black bears are mostly afraid they will be attacked. If a person doesn’t want a black bear to come closer, act aggressively. Black bears that come into campgrounds are looking for food, not people, and can easily be chased away in most cases.


How common are bears in Arkansas?

Arkansas is home to roughly 5,000 black bears. The good news is that they are usually skittish toward humans unless fed.

Can you hunt bears in Arkansas?

There is a bear season in Arkansas when bears can be hunted. There are different times for archery, muzzleloader, modern gun and youth modern gun usage.

Bear season and limit information can be found here.

Also, don’t miss this: Arkansas Foxes: The Red, The Gray and The Skittish

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