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Grizzly bears, black bears, wolves, coyotes, cougars/ mountain lions,bobcats, wolverines, lynx, foxes, fishers and martens are the suite of carnivores that originally inhabited North America after the Pleistocene extinctions. This site invites research, commentary, point/counterpoint on that suite of native animals (predator and prey) that inhabited The Americas circa 1500-at the initial point of European exploration and subsequent colonization. Landscape ecology, journal accounts of explorers and frontiersmen, genetic evaluations of museum animals, peer reviewed 20th and 21st century research on various aspects of our "Wild America" as well as subjective commentary from expert and layman alike. All of the above being revealed and discussed with the underlying goal of one day seeing our Continent rewilded.....Where big enough swaths of open space exist with connective corridors to other large forest, meadow, mountain, valley, prairie, desert and chaparral wildlands.....Thereby enabling all of our historic fauna, including man, to live in a sustainable and healthy environment. - Blogger Rick

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Thursday, November 10, 2016

I always am amazed that the giant "Lone Star State", Texas, is almost devoid of a Black Bear population...........This, considering that the little(and people crowded) states of Connecticut and New Jersey have a robust population of bruins................Thankfully, the Black Bears numbers in neighboring Arkansas, Louisiana and Mexico are at levels that are encouraging male "prospectors" to forage into Texas(Bowie, Red River and Smith counties) seeking vacant territories to make their own..........Will the females follow so as to create a true breeding population?...............Texas Parks claims the following-----"Black bears were probably widely distributed in suitable habitats throughout Texas prior to Anglo-American settlement (1820s) (Bailey 1905); although, this point is not well documented"............ "By the time of the first organized survey of Texas mammals by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Biological Survey (1890-1904), black bears had been over exploited for over a half a century (Daugherty 1982, Sitton 1995) and were in serious decline across most of the state (Bailey 1905)"............ "The rugged mountains of the Trans Pecos region were an exception to this pattern of decline where Vernon Bailey reported black bears were still "fairly common" in the Guadalupe, Davis, and Chisos mountains (1901-1902)"................ "Trans Pecos bear populations persisted for the next 50 years before finally succumbing to the combined pressures of sport hunting, predator control, and habitat alteration (Onorato and Hellgren 1998)".......................... "During this period, a viable population of bears remained in the nearby mountains of Coahuila and Chihuahua, Mexico (Leopold 1959, Baker and Greer 1962) and provided a source for natural recolonization of unoccupied habitats in the Trans Pecos (Doan-Crider and Hellgren 1996)"........................... "By the mid-1990s, a small breeding black bear population was reestablished in the Chisos Mountains, Big Bend National Park (Skiles 1995)"................... "Black bear sightings are now reported annually in the Dead Horse, Glass, Del Norte, Davis, and Guadalupe mountains (Vazant 2002), which suggests that recolonization of the Trans Pecos is an ongoing process"

MOORE OUTDOORS: Black bears continue to return

Published 11:09 pm Wednesday, November 9, 201
Black bears never totally disappeared in Texas but their numbers certainly plummeted after years of poaching.
Now over the last two decades a small but steady trickle of bears from Mexico have moved into and inhabited the Trans Pecos and an increase in reports in East Texas suggest migration from Louisiana, Arkansas and Oklahoma.

Recently at least four sightings have been documented on game trail cameras on Bowie, Red River and Smith counties according to the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department (TPWD).
TPWD officials speculate the bears, which appear to be young males, are looking to establish their own new home ranges and likely dispersed from Oklahoma or Arkansas where bear numbers have increased in recent years.

Bowie County

That variety of black bear is Ursus americanus luteolus, the Louisiana Black Bear, and it was just removed from the federal list of threatened species although it remains on the Texas list.
The fabled Louisiana bear according to official with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) became part of American culture after a hunting trip to Mississippi in 1902, where President Theodore Roosevelt refused to shoot a bear that was trapped and tied to a tree by members of his hunting party. The episode was featured in a cartoon in The Washington Post, sparking the idea for a Brooklyn candy-store owner to create the “Teddy” bear.

Red River County

“President Theodore Roosevelt would have really enjoyed why we are gathered here today,” said Interior Secretary Sally Jewell.
“Working together across private and public lands with so many partners embodies the conservation ethic he stood for when he established the National Wildlife Refuge System as part of the solution to address troubling trends for the nation’s wildlife. As I said last spring when the delisting proposal was announced, the Louisiana black bear is another success story for the Endangered Species Act.”
A possible obstacle the bear’s return in the region is poaching, which still looms large in some areas. Shooting a Louisiana black bear (which all bears in East Texas are considered) is a state crime which could get a poacher in serious trouble.
Another potential problem is misidentification since bear and feral hogs can look similar at a distance especially when someone is not expecting to see a bear. Understanding black bear identification is important if you hunt in potential bear country.

Smith County

So is understanding bear behavior.
According to the TPWD bears are normally shy and not aggressive to humans.
“But if a bear regularly visits a ranch or deer stand, people should try to scare it with rocks, a slingshot or air horn. If people encounter a bear at close range, they should talk calmly while backing away slowly. Don’t make direct eye contact, and don’t run away. If a bear approaches you, stand your ground and raise your arms, backpack or jacket to appear larger. Yell at the bear to scare it off.”
Unlike grizzly encounters where playing dead could be a saving grace, it could make things worse if a black bear decides to attack. The proper response to a black bear attack is to fight back.
Attacks are super rare and is current trends continue there will likely be more black bear sightings in Texas. Just the thought of seeing a black bear here in Texas makes things seem a bit wilder and gives hope to those of us concerned about the wildlife and wildlife habitat.
To report a black bear sighting in Texas, call a TPWD Wildlife Division regional office: West Texas (Alpine), (432) 837-2051; Central Texas (Kerrville), (830) 896-2500; East Texas (Tyler), (903) 566-1626; Panhandle/Rolling Plains (Canyon), (806) 655-3782; Cross Timbers (Brownwood), (325) 643-5977; South Texas (Pleasanton). (830) 569-8700.
Trans Pecos Wildlife District(extreme southwest Texas and perhaps Big Bend National Park(extreme northwest Texas) seem to have a small, recovering breeding colony of Black Bears according to the Texas Parks folks

The area of West Texas is known as the Trans Pecos Wildlife District and is comprised of 16 counties. 
wildlife district 1 map
Brewster CountyCrane CountyCulberson CountyEctor CountyEl Paso CountyHudspeth CountyJeff Davis CountyLoving CountyMidland CountyPecos CountyPresidio CountyReeves CountyTerrell CountyUpton CountyWard CountyWinkler County

Big Bend National Park is up in the far northwest corner of the

state and the Trans Pecos region is adjacent to Mexico in the 
far southwestern section of Texas

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