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Bears in Arkansas (Diet, Lifestyle, Habitat, more)

Bear on tree

Bears are one of the most unique and widely-recognized animals in North America, an iconic symbol of wilderness habitats. The state of Arkansas is home to these amazing creatures, which can often be seen in their natural habitats near mountains or rivers. In comparison to its neighbouring state South Carolina, Arkansas is known for having a larger black bear population as well as a greater variety of bear species. Visitors to the state have the opportunity to explore wild bear habitats, learn about conservation efforts and even capture photographs to remember their travels.

bears in Arkansas

Are there bears in Arkansas?

It may surprise some to learn that bears in Arkansas are not actually a creature of the distant past, but rather remain present in some parts of the state. While they can be observed, they are much less pervasive than they are in South Carolina, a neighbouring state where black bears, which call the Eastern part of Arkansas home, travel throughout in search of food. In Arkansas, the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission works hard to protect the population through effective management strategies and humane practices that benefit both people and animals alike.

Where are bears located in Arkansas?

Bears are an intriguing species to many, and Arkansas is fortunate enough to have several different varieties of ursine residents. In the northern regions of the state, black bears can be found in the Ozark and Ouachita Mountains. To the south, sightings of both American black bears and Louisiana black bears have occurred around Texarkana, near the border with Texas and Louisiana. Although there are no known populations of ursids in South Carolina itself, they may occasionally venture across its border with Arkansas due to their wide range in search of food and den sites between the two states


Bears in Arkansas can be found in the forests of the Ozark and Ouachita Mountains. There are also some black bears that inhabit in South Carolina, but not as many as in Arkansas. In Arkansas, these animals use their strong and sharp claws to help them climb trees and search for food peacefully. As powerful climbers and natural predators, they rely solely on their sense of smell to help them find their meals. Unfortunately, Bears tend to be wary of any human contact because it could potentially lead to dangerous situations for both parties. 


They are opportunistic feeders and eat fruits, nuts, insects, honey and anything else that will provide them with sustenance. In the summer months, they prefer to consume plant foods such as berries or other sweet material whilst during the winter months they tend to dine on carrion and small prey such as rodents or deer.

bear wit trash can


Bears native to South Carolina have traditionally been black in colour but it has been reported recently that sightings of cinnamon-coloured bears have also become common. These bears are primarily attracted to high-altitude forests and often inhabit areas with an elevation of 300 ft or more. The cinnamon colour of these bears is due to a recessive gene which produces lighter-coloured fur. Such bears in Arkansas may soon outnumber those of traditional black colour as their numbers grow due to conservation efforts by wildlife protection organisations along with other wonderful initiatives taken for their protection and care.

Size, Lifespan and Weight 

The average black bear will weigh between 150 to 600 pounds, or even more in some cases. In terms of length, an adult black bear can have a total standing size of 3 to 7 feet. Furthermore, black bears are long-lived species with a lifespan of approximately 15 – 25 years when living in the wild, and up to 30 years when in captivity. 

bear in open


Bears in Arkansas have the occasional run-in with some of their more vicious predators, such as coyotes, bobcats and mountain lions. Fortunately for the bears, they are generally much larger than their predators and can often repel the attack. Still, if the predator sees an opportunity like a bear cub being left alone for even just a few minutes it might rush in to feed or carry away the smaller animal. This is something all bear families should keep in mind when venturing into Arkansas’s forests and mountain ranges; while they may never see any of these predators on their travels, they must still be aware that they could be nearby lurking in shadows or behind tall grasses.


Black bears in Arkansas are equipped with sophisticated reproductive strategies that have allowed the species to thrive, even in the face of intense competition for resources. Their mating period starts in mid-May, although different populations have slight variations in timing. During this time, female bears will mate with multiple males and store sperm from each mating until wintertime when she enters into a state of delayed implantation.

This means that although her body can hold onto multiple sets of sperm at once, it won’t begin the process of producing cubs until later on in the year. A few months after entering hibernation, she’ll give birth to litters averaging two cubs (though litters can range between one and four). The mother bear will raise these cubs on her own over the winter before they venture out on their own come springtime.

How many bears are in Arkansas?

It may surprise some to learn that black bears are actually living in Arkansas! As the only ursids (family of bear species) in the state, there is an estimated population size of around 2,500- 4000 black bears currently living in Arkansas. They mainly live in the Ozark Mountains however sightings of them have been reported throughout South Carolina as well.

Are there Black Bears in Arkansas

Arkansas is home to a variety of wildlife and some of the species that inhabit its lands are quite unusual. Among them, there has been debate as to whether or not Black Bears also roam the state’s forests and woodlands. Although it’s not unheard of for these animals to be present in Arkansas, populations are extremely limited. Sightings are sporadic but can occur in various places ranging from the Ouachita Mountains in the west to Crowley’s Ridge in the east. It is due to its remote locations that Black Bears’ presence continues to remain secretive and somewhat mysterious, making them quite an interesting animal for Arkansans.

bear in backyard

Are there Bears in Northwest Arkansas

While most locals may be aware, some visitors to Northwest Arkansas may be surprised to know that yes, there are bears living in the region! While black and grizzly bears were once part of the environment and hunted extensively for their fur and meat, the last known native black bear in Arkansas was killed at Big Piney Creek in Newton county in 1922. Nevertheless, surprisingly enough, sightings of black bears are still reported from time to time in northwest Arkansas without fail. These bears likely aren’t native to the area either though; instead, it appears that they stem from populations living just across state borders.

Are there Bears in Eureka Springs Arkansas

Eureka Springs, Arkansas is home to many majestic animals, but one creature, in particular, has sparked interest among locals and tourists alike – bears! Are there really bears in the area? Despite popular belief, no black or grizzly bears are found wild in Eureka Springs. However, there is an abundance of American Black Bear sightings reported annually within a 2-3 hour radius of the city, including The Ozarks National Forest and several nearby wildlife management areas. 

Are there Grizzly Bears in Arkansas

No, It’s safe to say that the majority of visitors to Arkansas haven’t gone to the state expecting to find grizzly bears. But surprisingly, these iconic North American mammals were once common in the area, until their populations began diminishing due to hunting and loss of habitat. Today, however, these animals are nowhere to be seen as they have been completely extirpated from the state since the early 1900s.





Author Profile
Jeevan Kodiyan
Zoologist | Wildlife Conservation at Animals Research

An animal enthusiast with an interest in zoology, studying the behavior and activities of animals in the wild habitat. I work on research projects related to species conservation and endangered species protection. I also leverage zoology to become an educator, educating others about the importance of protecting our natural environment and the beauty of animals in their natural habitats.

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An animal enthusiast with an interest in zoology, studying the behavior and activities of animals in the wild habitat. I work on research projects related to species conservation and endangered species protection. I also leverage zoology to become an educator, educating others about the importance of protecting our natural environment and the beauty of animals in their natural habitats.


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