News of a possible bear sighting in my home town of Orange, TX has garnered many responses.
I have written more than 50 articles on black bears in Texas since 2000, several of which are posted here at Higher Calling Wildlife®.
Here are a few links to our past Texas bear articles.
In 2007 I started a conservation project to raise awareness to the fact they are illegal to kill here and to get people bear aware so they can stay safe through Texas Fish & Game magazine.
Bears returning to Texas is a passion of mine.
Now let’s tackle the elephant in the room-the photo.
My gut feeling on photo when I saw it Thursday was it looked like a bear. I would like to see the head but I spoke with the gentleman who took the photo and he said he saw the head and believes it was a bear.
He seemed very credible to me as he described several attributes of bear movement and that he actually saw the full animal-unobscured by brush.
My thoughts were it’s either a bear or one of these really (for lack of a better term) fat feral hogs that pops up every once in awhile based on the photo-which I will not share here.
I believe the gentlemen who took the photo has had more than his share of mean-spirited comments about the photo and I don’t want to contribute to that.
The bigger point is this is a moment to get educated about a large carnivore that has already begun a good comeback in West Texas, parts of South Texas and are starting to pour over into Northeast Texas.
Here are some things people need to know about bears in East Texas.
1. Black bears are native to Texas. They are supposed to be here although like many things were extinct locally. Louisiana, Arkansas and Oklahoma all have bears and they have been proven to cross into East Texas. Louisiana has an expanding bear population in the south-central part of the state and two weeks ago issued a public comment period for a Louisiana black bear season (limited) in 2024. Subadult males in particular move great distances so while it’s rare to have one show up in our area, they should be here.
2. There have been zero bear stockings in Texas! While Louisiana in the distant past brought in bears from other states to help their herds genetic diversity, Texas has never stocked bears. These are not stocked bears.
3. Yes, black bears are potentially dangerous but feral dogs for example are far more likely to attack. Don’t freak out because of a potential bear sightings in Orange. With expansion in Louisiana it will eventually become more commonplace. I predict we’ll have fairly regular Southeast Texas sightings in a decade.
4. Read our article posted above to learn about what to do in the RARE instance of a black bear attack. Don’t worry about your dogs and cats being attacked. The hundreds of coyotes we have in Orange are a far bigger threat. And so are the roadways! Keep them in a fence.
5. They are a state-listed threatened species and illegal to kill. Leave them alone and don’t feed any bears you might come across. A fed bear ends up being a dead bear because they get too accustomed to people and have to be euthanized.
People who literally have no idea about wildlife should refrain from making public comments. I have heard things about black bears and Texas that are absolutely false.
People need to know bears are in Texas and although a rare sighting in Southeast Texas do show up.
I’ll leave you with this bear poster we started sending out through Texas Fish & Game back in 2007. You can get a .pdf of this by shooting me an email. I’ve been following the return of the bear to Texas for 20 years. It’s time people stop laughing about the idea of bears in Texas and get a clue.
The ugly side of wildlife social media rearer its head on this bear story and I propose we rejoice because wildlife got news coverage. Plus, there’s a very good chance a bear crossed into Orange County, TX.
How cool is that?
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