Dry conditions have black bears on the move, and they are coming to Texas instead of leaving the drought-ridden state.
Louis Harveson, a natural resource management professor at Sul Ross State University, said the bears are fleeing dry conditions and fires in Mexico, searching for food and water. Bears are now a regular sight in Big Bend National Park and Black Gap Wildlife Management Area.
He said it won’t be odd to see black bears venture into towns and cities in the Trans-Pecos area looking for food and water.
Although the bears are generally passive and mostly eat vegetation, he said they can become aggressive in close quarters and when a confrontation involves a cub.
Harveson said several people in Alpine saw bears looking through house windows in June.
Jonah Evans, a wildlife diversity biologist with the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department, said he has had seven reports of black bear sightings from May 31 to June 24, compared to just one sighting before that dating to the beginning of 2010.
It is illegal for residents to trap or kill bears, he said, so TPWD must document and investigate human interactions with bears to determine whether it is a threat and what its purpose for human interaction was.
Evans said the last thing TPWD wants to do is shoot the bear or move it out of the area, but will if necessary.
Whether the Trans Pecos region can support the animals with food, water, and a safe environment will determine whether they stay in Texas.