Black bears making a comeback in East Texas - - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News


Black bears making a comeback in East Texas

A resident of East Texas thought to be long gone is making a comeback. Back in the 1950s, the black bear was practically hunted out of East Texas, but reports of sightings have recently increased. KLTV 7's Bob Hallmark shows you how wildlife experts are trying to educate folks about their long lost neighbors.

In years past, game wardens and other officers used to shrug off reports of bears.

"Usually, I found it to be something different...wild hogs," said Jackie Lynch with Longview Animal Control.

But Texas Parks and Wildlife are confirming recent sightings of black bears in East Texas.

"It is a non-aggresive animal, solitary. Most of what we have is lone young males looking for new territories," said Gary Calkins with TPWD.

Re-introduction programs in Arkansas and Louisiana has caused animals to range back into Texas.

"Through time they're going to replace or refill a nitch in the ecosystem that they filled prior to their extinction in the area," said Calkins.

Black bears are usually reclusive and solitary animals who shy away from human contact but with more bears coming into East Texas, it's possible that hunters or campers could accidentally walk up on one.

Big males can get over 200 pounds, and once they're on the move, it's best to get out of the way.

"Don't corner it, don't act aggressively, keep your distance," said Calkins.

And don't run - you'll just invite it to chase you. But, bears have a curious habit of wandering into populated areas.

"It could be very dangerous. People are so used to seeing them in places like zoos and circuses, these are circus animals they are wildlife," said Jackie.

They eat mostly plants and berries - and occasionally meat!

"They're mostly going to eat vegetation, berries, acorns such as that, farmers and ranchers there are some minor concerns," said Calkins.

Its unlikely that you'll ever see one, but they're here.

Black bears are protected by both state and federal laws, and can't be hunted. There's no exact count of how many are here in East Texas.

Bob Hallmark, reporting.


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