Bears have not been known to live in East Texas for a long time but recently there were a few confirmed bear sightings.
Unregulated hunting as well as logging in the early 1900’s forced bears out of East Texas.
“They were pretty much extirpated from this area by the 1940’s or so,” said Dr. Chris Comer, Professor of Forest Wildlife Management SFA.
In 2007 bear sightings in East Texas were becoming more common. Many believe theses sightings are due to expanding the population of bears in our neighboring states of Louisiana, Arkansas and Oklahoma.
It can be years between bear sightings, “we had a lot of sightings in late 2009/2010 and then the last few years we haven’t had a lot of sightings here in East Texas, at least not reported,” Dr. Comer said.
But this year was different, according to Dr. Comer there were “five or six documented” sightings in Red River and Bowie Counties and one sighting in Smith County.
When research on this subject began, researchers found “large areas” that were good bear habitats.
“They’ll usually set up shop here in our region for a few months, we had one that seemed to stay for a couple of years,” said Dr. Comer.
Many of the bears found in our region are younger males breaking away from the larger population. Once they reach maturity, however, it is assumed they typically return to their original home to find a female.
Dr. Comer stressed the importance of reporting all bear sightings to Texas Parks and Wildlife so they can track their movements.
If you happen to see a bear on your property or on a game camera please contact Texas Parks and Wildlife.