Black Bears Making a Comeback in Texas
By David Martin Davies
Counties along the Texas-Mexico border are reporting a surge in reports of hungry invaders from Mexico: Bears. And wildlife biologists are trying to quickly educate border residents about the do’s and don’ts of living with the big mammals.
Black bears are native to most of the Southwest, but in Texas human development, hunting and trapping drove the ursine wildlife out of most of South Texas and the Hill Country decades ago.
Now they are back. Black bear activity along the Rio Grande has increased dramatically. During 2012 there have been dozens of sightings where bear activity was considered extremely rare.
Jonah Evans, a biologist with Texas Parks and Wildlife, says the bears are coming in from Mexico looking for the bare necessities.
“There have been a lot of bears in Mexico for quite some time,” Evans said. “Population’s growing. We’ve had this severe drought in the last year and a half coupled with some big wildfires, and there’s all of a sudden a shortage of food available.”
Evans said the bears are generally not dangerous, but people have to follow one important rule: Don’t feed the bears.
Black bears can become a nuisance if they gain a taste for human food, pet food or trash. There are many reports of bears tipping over deer feeders and raiding trash cans along the border. Residents in border counties border need to secure their trash, bird feeders and pet food, so bears don’t become keep coming back for easy meals.
“Make sure the bear doesn’t get food,” Evans said. “Let it stay wild, and we should have much less problems with them than we would otherwise.”