Outdoors

Black bears making a comeback in Texas

Motion-sensitive trail cameras installed by East Texas hunters at their deer feeders are credited with providing wildlife officials important documentation on rebounding black bear numbers in this state.

A trail camera owned by Southeast Texas hunter Tom Archer snapped three photographs of a black bear or bears in 2006 and 2007.

Black bears virtually were eliminated from Texas in the early to mid-1900s due to habitat loss and unregulated hunting. The sighting of a black bear in Big Bend National Forest in 1984 was the first of its kind to be seen in almost 50 years.

In recent years, black bears sightings have been reported in the Trans-Pecos region of far West Texas, in South Texas, the western edge of the Hill Country, northwestern Panhandle and Southeast Texas. Black bears also exist in Mexico and bordering states including New Mexico, Oklahoma, Arkansas and Louisiana.

The most recent bear sightings in Texas have prompted the formation of a coalition of conservation partners called the East Texas Black Bear Task Force which hopes to find ways to restore black bears in their historic range in eastern Texas through research, education and habitat management.

There are no plans to restock black bears in Texas by parks and wildlife officials. Rather, the officials hope the bears’ numbers will grow naturally in areas with adequate habitat.

Black bears are protected in Texas and are on the threatened species list.

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