Texas is the state with the second largest area in the United States, most of which is farm or areas reserved for agriculture. Therefore, it comes as no surprise that bears are designated as protected species in the state of Texas.
It is important to note that Black bears are the only species of bears still living in Texas. A few years ago, even Black bears were not inhabiting Texas. Only recently have the Black bears returned to Texas and the Black bear population has started to rise.
Just because the black bears are fewer in number, it does not mean that people living in Texas can be careless during an encounter with this beast. Therefore, it is pertinent to follow the rules and precautions set by state departments and wildlife commissions.
Below I’ve explained all the things you need to know about the Black bears in Texas. Additional facts have also been provided such that people can safely live in the presence of Black bears around the locality.
Are There Bears in Texas?
Bears have always been found in Texas. But, in the early 1900s, many bears were trapped, hunted, and killed as a sport. This drastically reduced the number of bears in the state. At one point in time, there were no bears officially living in Texas.
Thankfully, various initiatives are taken by Black bear conservationist groups that have led to a rise in the black bear population in the last 20 years. Although it’s not enough and more such initiatives are needed to restore the bear’s historic range.
Where Are Bears Found in Texas?
Among the present black bears, most are in protected National parks, away from direct public encounters. These 6 ft large animals weigh on average between 200 to 400 pounds.
Most of their weight comes from the consumption of plant products about 80% and insects and meat which comprise 20%. It comes as no surprise then that black bears live in forests.
You’ll find most of the black bear population in West Texas in desert scrub or woodland habitats.
Though it’s rare you will encounter one near a residential area, it is always safe to be alert and follow rules and precautions set by the Wildlife Commission and the government.
Do They Have Grizzly Bears in Texas?
In the past, along with the Black bears, there were also Grizzly bears in Texas. Compared to Black bears, grizzlies are more aggressive and larger in size.
Moreover, grizzlies prefer meat than plants which is not the case for black bears. Adding to the above features, Grizzly’s formidable presence makes them a better candidate for hunting and that’s why Grizzlies were the first to vanish in Texas.
It is believed that Grizzly bears were rare inhabitants until the mid-1800s. People suspect that the last Grizzly in Texas was spotted in 1900 during a hunting game. Unfortunately, it was killed during the game and that is how the last Grizzly bear in Texas lost its life.
Also Check Our Guide On Bears In US
When Did Bears Leave Texas?
Looking back into the past the black bears did not leave Texas, but they were pushed out of it.
In the mid-1800s, there were many Grizzly bears and black bears living in Texas. However, in the early 1900s, most of the land in Texas was converted and utilized for farming as agriculture became the sought-out occupation. As farms started expanding, Black bears and Grizzly bear’s habitat started declining.
Even after various efforts, the only breeding population of black bear found in Texas currently are in the Big Bend area of West Texas. A few more bears were recently spotted across the state from the Panhandle to the Rio Grande Valley.
Also Check Out Our Guide On Bears In Louisiana
Can You Shoot a Bear in Texas?
Due to the massive hunting and trapping of bears in the past, the population of bears plummeted down. It was only in the last 20yrs that the population has been restored.
All thanks to efforts from various groups of people in Government, Environmental activists, conservationists, and especially the stringent policies and laws.
The Black bears are on the federally threatened list and therefore it is illegal to shoot any bear in Texas. No bear in the Texas state shall be killed, hurt, or caught.
However, an exception to this is life threatening situation during an encounter with a bear which rarely happens due to the small number of bears near residential properties.
How Many Bear Attacks Per Year in Texas?
Black bears are designated as Protected in Texas. This is to reduce and eradicate the hunting and killing of Black bears across the state. Most of the bear population is therefore found living inside protected National parks.
Though it is exceedingly rare for people to encounter a Black bear in residential areas of Texas, you may see one in the wild while you visit the park.
However, there have been very few attacks in the last 70 years. Nevertheless, it is important to follow the rules set by the park to have a bear-encounter-free, fun, and safe ride through the forest.
Some general measures you can take include covering food items as bears have a strong sense of smell and will eat anything they find, and avoiding visiting the park during dusk and dawn as these are the time of the day when bears are most active.
Let us do our part in protecting the Black bears in Texas by following rules and spreading awareness among the people we know. Here is to hoping that the bears never leave Texas again in the future.
And that was everything you need to know about the bears in Texas. I hope this article answered all your queries.
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I’m a passionate animal lover and researcher, I’ve created this website so that people can learn about the size and characteristics of different animal species. My goal is to educate and inspire people to appreciate the diversity of our planet’s wildlife.