An updated plan to manage Oregon’s 25,000-30,000 estimated black bears is available for review online at:

Public comments related to the draft update of the Oregon Black Bear Management Plan will be taken through the June 7-8, 2012 Fish and Wildlife Commission meeting in Salem, when final action may be taken on the plan. However, comments received by April 13 will be reviewed and summarized for the Commission by their April 20 meeting in Salem, when ODFW staff will brief commissioners on the plan. A revised draft plan will be available in May.

Send comments to, mail to ODFW Wildlife Division, 3406 Cherry Ave NE, Salem OR 97303 or fax to (503) 947-6330.

The draft plan was written by ODFW wildlife biologists, with input from stakeholders.

A Black Bear Management Plan was last adopted by the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission in 1993. Since that time, the overall population size of black bears has been stable to increasing. Oregon’s black bear population was estimated to be 9,000 in the early 1930s but had grown to an estimated 25,000 by the 1990s.

The Draft Plan outlines four main objectives: Maintaining a healthy bear population in balance with other wildlife, reducing the number of human-bear conflicts that result in lethal removal or relocation of bears, developing and refining population modeling techniques, and using applied research to improve the understanding of black bear management and ecology.

The updated draft plan includes new information and changes in bear management since the previous plan was adopted in 1993. For example, in 1994, Oregon voters passed Measure 18, which prohibits sport hunters from hunting black bears or cougars with the use of hounds or bait.

Population modeling techniques have also changed since the 1990s. ODFW uses a variety of methods to monitor black bear populations. The department closely tracks the number, sex, and age of bears killed and also uses data from a radio-collaring study. Since 2005, ODFW has been using a tetracycline mark-recapture method to develop a better estimate of the population.

Some other facts about black bears and black bear management in Oregon:

  • Black bear densities are highest in the Coast, Cascade, and Blue Mountains, and lowest in the arid southeast region.
  • Black bears can vary in color from light brown to black.
  • Most human-bear problems occur when bears are being fed by people. The 2011 Oregon State Legislature passed a bill that prohibits (in most instances) knowingly placing food, garbage or other attractants for black bears and certain other wildlife species.
  • There has never been a fatal bear attack in Oregon. Only four human-bear interactions that resulted in injury have been documented by ODFW. They involved hunters, bears attracted to homes due to accessible garbage cans or birdseed, or dogs which agitated bears.

For more information on black bears in Oregon, visit the Living with Bears page

Photo: Mr Empey

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