TITUS COUNTY, Texas (KETK) Texas Parks and Wildlife says conservation efforts for bears is working in two Northeast Texas counties.
According to TPWD, there has been an uptick in black bear sightings in Bowie and Titus county.
The bears are thought to originate from the neighboring states of Oklahoma Arkansas, or Louisiana, where resident bear populations are well established and expanding.
“It is inspiring as a biologist to watch these animals make their return to Northeast Texas after being absent for a century or more.”Penny Wilkerson Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) biologist
The recovery of black bears in the three-state region has been ongoing for about 30 years. Thanks to conservation efforts, the Louisiana black bear is no longer listed as a federally threatened species.
“Bears do not generally pose a threat to pets or livestock. These critters are omnivores and are more interested in berries, grubs and acorns than anything else,” Wilkerson said.
Texas hunters should make sure that they know their targets as hogs and bears can look very similar from a distance. Black bears are currently a protected species in Texas.
TPWD is interested in documenting all sightings of bears and encourages reporting any sightings to a local biologist.
WHAT TO DO IF YOU ENCOUNTER A BEAR
- NEVER APPROACH A BEAR!
- Bears are normally shy and not aggressive to humans.
- If a bear regularly visits your deer stand, scare it with rocks, a slingshot or air horn.
- If you encounter a bear at close range, talk in a calm manner while backing away slowly. Do not make direct eye contact.
- DO NOT RUN! This can trigger a bear’s chase instinct.
- If a bear approaches you, stand your ground and raise your arms, backpack or jacket to appear larger. Yell at the bear to scare it off.
- If attacked, fight back aggressively with anything available. Let the bear know you are not easy prey. DO NOT PLAY DEAD!
Residents can find a local biologist and more information about bears and bear safety on the TPWD website. Residents are also encouraged to call the east Texas Region Office at 903-566-1626 extension 209.