Tag Archives: mexican black bears

Border Bear: Black Bear Swims Across TX-Lake Falcon (Video)

Lake Falcon on the Texas/Mexico border is known for its huge largemouth bass and monstrous alligator garfish.

So, when 15-year-old Joseph Belcher and his uncle Sherman Pierce hit the water in mid-June 2020, they were focused on fish.

That is until they noticed something swimming across the lake.

Moving closer to investigate, they saw a black bear coming from the Mexican side and were able to capture footage of it mid-lake and were gracious enough to share it with Higher Calling. Thanks to Larry Belcher for making the connection.

Black bears are native to both Mexico and Texas.

Ursus americanus eremicus, the Mexican black bear, is protected from harvest in Mexico and Texas, and over the last two decades, they have been spilling into Texas from the Sierra Del Carmen Mountains and other areas.

Most of the population is centered around Big Bend National Park but there are verified bear sightings and road kills near Alpine and also as far east as Zapata County where this sighting took place.

A 2012 report shows another bear sighting in the county but this one was on dry land.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
The Bay City area black bear. (Photo courtesy Al Weaver)

Ten years ago a hunter named Al Weaver sent me this photo from Bay City, TX on the north-central tier of the Texas Coast. I wrote about it in Texas Fish & Game in 2010.

Last year, I wrote this story, showing this individual had to take a pretty fantastic journey to end up where Weaver got the photo.

It’s called “Journey Of A Wayward Black Bear”.

Black bears are also slowly returning to the Pineywoods of Texas from Louisiana, Arkansas, and Oklahoma. Listen to the podcast I did with officials from Stephen F. Austin University for a lengthy discussion on this topic.

The extent of the black bear’s return to Texas will have much to do with habitat quality, access to migration points, and protection from poachers.

If you are intrigued by bears in Texas, follow this blog. There is more to come.

Chester Moore

Check out the Higher Calling podcast with Stephen F. Austin University officials talking black bears returning to East Texas here.

Ursus americanus in texas

The tracks were so fresh I expected to see their maker appear at any second.

Nearly as wide as my two hands combined and nearly as long as my foot there was no doubt these were left by a very large black bear.

I kept my camera ready as any encounter would be up close and personal.

In a remote area of the Shasta-Trinity National Forest in northern California, I was at a stretch of river where huge boulders lined the shores, creating a rugged maze.

It was wall to wall granite with the ground being a mix of smaller rock and sand.

Reader Al Weaver captured this photo of a black bear near Bay City, TX on the coast over a decade ago. Did this bear travel from the Davis Mountains or some other Trans-Pecos location down to the coast? Or did it cross from Louisiana where a small but growing bear population lives.

The tracks that ended at a huge flat outcropping led me  close to the river. The view was stunning  and I took time to savor the moment but my quarry remained elusive.

An hour later I found myself a few hundred  yards above this location.

Out of the corner of my eye, I caught slight movement.

Through the binoculars what looked at first like a bush turned out to be a black bear standing as if something had caught its attention too.

I am not sure if it was the same bear whose tracks I had followed.

Perhaps it had caught scent I left behind but one thing is for sure. The chill that ran down my spine at that moment reminded me of why I pursue wildlife and  on this occasion wildlife might have very well been pursuing me.

After all, I was in this majestic animal’s domain.

Ursus americanus is the most abundant bear on the planet with an estimated 600,000 scattered throughout the United States, Canada and Mexico. They are a true wildlife conservation success story but not all is well.

Parts of their historic range are devoid of bear while some others are starting to see the first sign in decades.

My home state of Texas is a prime example.

Ursula americanus eremicus, the Mexican black bear, is protected from harvest in Mexico and over the last two decades they have been spilling into Texas from the Sierra Del Carmen Mountains.

Most of the population is centered around Big Bend National Park but there are verified bear sightings and road kills near Alpine and also as far east as Kerr County.

In fact, bear sightings in the Texas Hill Country have increased dramatically in recent years. One even paid fisheries biologists at the Heart of the Hills Hatchery near Ingram a visit-an area that hasn’t regularly had bear sightings in well over 100 years.

To read the full story that originally appeared in Texas Fish & Game click here.