Black Bear Sightings In Northeast Texas
October 21, 2016
Editorial Staff (267 articles)
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Black Bear Sightings In Northeast Texas

At least four sightings documented

Wildlife biologists are advising hunters, ranchers and rural residents in Northeast Texas of confirmed black bear sightings. At least four sightings have been documented on game trail cameras between June and late August in Bowie, Red River and Smith counties.

Texas Parks and Wildlife Department biologists confirmed the sightings. They speculate the bears, which appear to be young males, are establishing their own new home ranges.

This is the first confirmed presence of black bears in East Texas since September 2011. Breeding black bear populations have been absent from this region for almost 100 years, but bears from Oklahoma, Arkansas and Louisiana occasionally wander into East Texas.

“Once these bears figure out there’s no opportunity for companionship over here they will likely retreat,” says Dave Holdermann, a non-game wildlife biologist with TPWD in Tyler.

According to Holdermann, bears are normally shy and not aggressive to humans. But if a bear regularly visits a ranch or deer stand, people should try to scare it with rocks, a slingshot or air horn.

“If people encounter a bear at close range, they should talk calmly while backing away slowly. Don’t make direct eye contact, and don’t run away,” he advised. “If a bear approaches you, stand your ground and raise your arms, backpack or jacket to appear larger and yell at the bear to scare it off.”

Illegal to kill a black bear in Texas

Hunters should avoid mistaking a bear for a feral hog or other legal game animal. It’s against the law to kill a black bear in Texas, with penalties of up to $10,000, added civil restitution fines, jail time and loss of all hunting privileges. The black bear is listed as threatened by the state of Texas.

Hunters should keep camps clean to prevent odors that will attract bears and discard gut piles far from campsites. Placing deer corn in piles or in open feeders will attract more bears, while using an automated feeder hung out of reach of bears will decrease bear visits. Also, switching bait from corn to soybeans will reduce bear activity. And, planting food plots is the best way to attract deer and avoid bear visits.

More information is available at tpwd.texas.gov/huntwild/hunt/resources/bear_safety/. Anyone observing black bears in East Texas should contact Holdermann at 903-566-1626 ext. 209 so wildlife experts can track trends in black bear populations and distributions.

—courtesy Texas Parks and Wildlife Dept.

Greg Hume Wikipedia photo

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Editorial Staff

Editorial Staff

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  1. Cw
    Cw November 18, 18:29
    Speaking of black bears, I just saw one cross a pipeline on my deer lease in Newton Tx.

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