ELKHART (AP) — Wildlife experts say a male, juvenile bear found dead in southwest Kansas might have been driven into the state by drought conditions in surrounding states.
The bear died Monday in an accidental crash on Highway 56 near Elkhart in Morton County, about 1.5 miles from the Oklahoma border.
State biologist Kraig Schulz says spring wildfires in New Mexico and Colorado combined with a region-wide drought might be pushing bears toward Kansas.
He says even in those conditions, it’s rare to find a black bear in Kansas. The last confirmed black bear in Morton County was in 2011. Another one was seen in 2016 just across the Oklahoma line.
The Wichita Eagle reports almost the entire Oklahoma panhandle is in exceptional drought, along with parts of southwest Kansas and northeast New Mexico.