Headline News
Go Back
2013-01-03

Black bear activity on the upswing in the Hill Country and South Texas

Courtesy of TPWD

Black bear activity in the Hill Country and South Texas along the Rio Grande from Del Rio to below Laredo is increasing, according to Texas Parks and Wildlife Department biologists.
Though historically it has been very rare for bears to be sighted south or east of Val Verde County, in 2012 there were a dozen such sightings.
"This is likely a result of a growing number of bears in Mexico dispersing and searching for food after severe droughts and wildfires," said TPWD biologist Jonah Evans of Alpine, the department's bear coordinator. "Whether these sightings signify a permanent recolonization of Central and South Texas remains to be seen."
While black bears are native to all of Texas, in the early 1900s, heavy hunting and trapping completely eliminated them from the state. Currently, the only established breeding populations are in the Big Bend area of West Texas.
"Black bears are generally not a risk to humans," Evans continued. "But they can become a nuisance if they gain a taste for human food, pet food or trash. We've recently received several reports of bears tipping over and damaging deer feeders and a few raiding trash cans along the border."
Evans says the department's goal is for people and bears to coexist peacefully.
"By eliminating food rewards, we eliminate most of the problems," he said. "Many communities in bear country have effectively adapted to live with bears, but it takes everyone working together and doing their part."
The most effective strategy is for residents along the border to secure their trash, bird feeders and pet food, so bears don't become habituated to easy meals, Evans noted.
"This cannot be overstated," he continued. "The saying 'A fed bear is a dead bear' is absolutely true. If a bear becomes habituated and food-conditioned, there is little we can do to save it. It will likely have to be destroyed."
TPWD is asking for people to report all bear sightings. If a bear is causing a nuisance, TPWD will work with residents to secure attractants and may attempt to haze the bear. In extreme situations, the bear may be relocated. Biologists are also available to give talks and educational programs on living with bears. Since black bears are a threatened species in Texas, they cannot be legally hunted or harmed.
Those who see a bear are asked to report it to Evans at 432-837-2051, Ext. 228.