Yes, there are black bears in Texas! These large mammals once covered the entire state of Texas, but are now mostly found in the Trans-Pecos of Texas, with good numbers in the Guadalupe and Big Bend Mountains. They range into New Mexico and Mexico and as east as Kerrville in the western part of the state.
There are bears in East Texas, especially the northern parts of this region, but could be spotted at any time along the Red River of the Sabine River.
The black bear, Ursus americanus, is listed as threatened by the State of Texas.
Black Bears Nice by Nature
A wild bear is normally shy and not aggressive towards people. However, a bear that is regularly fed, regularly visits a deer feeder, or has become otherwise habituated to humans may be a problem. A bear that loses its fear of people should be seen as problem.
If you experience a bear at close range, it is recommended that you talk calmly while backing away slowly. Do not make direct eye contact with the bear, and do not attempt to run straight away as the bear may chase out of instinct. If a bear approaches you, stay where you are, raise your arms, jacket or other gear to appear larger and yell at the bear to scare it off.
Bears and Texas Hunting Regulations
Black bears are black. So are many feral hogs. It is recommended that hunters study their game carefully to avoid mistaking a bear for a feral hog or other legal game animal. It is against the law to kill a black bear in Texas, with penalties of up to $10,000, added civil restitution fines, jail time and loss of all hunting privileges.
Bear Safety While Out
To minimize encounters with bears, hunters should keep camps clean to prevent odors that will attract bears and discard gut piles far from campsites. Placing deer corn in piles or in open feeders will attract more bears, while using an automated feeder hung out of reach of bears will decrease bear visits.
Also, switching bait from whole corn to soybeans will reduce bear activity. Another good idea is to attract deer using food plots. This brings in deer for harvest, but does not bring in the bears. Most of all, use common sense precautions if you are in or near the black bear areas of Texas.
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