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Increasing Number Of Black Bears Spotted In South Texas

Texas Parks and Wildlife

Counties along the Texas-Mexico border are reporting higher numbers of hungry invaders from Mexico -- bears -- and wildlife biologists are trying to quickly educate border residents about the dos and don’ts of living with the big mammals.

Black bears are native to most of the Southwest, but in Texas, human development, hunting and trapping drove the ursine wildlife out of most of South Texas and the Hill Country decades ago.

Now they are back; black bear activity along the Rio Grande has increased dramatically. During 2012 there have been dozens of sightings where before bear activity was considered extremely rare.

Jonah Evans is a biologist with Texas Parks and Wildlife and said the bears are coming in from Mexico looking for necessities.

"There have been a lot of bears in Mexico for quite some time – population growing we’ve had this severe drought in the last year and a half coupled with some severe wildfires – and now suddenly there’s a shortage of food available," said Evans.

Evans said the bears are generally not dangerous. but people have to follow one important rule: "Don’t feed the bears."

Black bears can become a nuisance if they gain a taste for human food, pet food, or trash. There are multiple reports of bears tipping over deer feeders and raiding trash cans along the border. Residents in border counties need to secure their trash, bird feeders and pet food, so bears don’t become keep coming back for easy meals, which is a bad thing.

"Make sure the bear doesn’t get food – let it stay wild – as we should have much less problems than we would otherwise," said Evans.

David Martin Davies can be reached at dmdavies@tpr.org and on Twitter at @DavidMartinDavi