Report possible black bear sightings in Texas by calling the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department at (512) 389-4505. To report a dead or potentially poached black bear in Texas, call Operation Game Thief at (800) 792-4263.
Educate yourself and others
The natural recolonization of the black bear presents an exciting and unique opportunity for Texans of all ages to play a role in the return of this native species. Educating yourself and others about this species, its history in the state, its biology, as well as ways to successfully live alongside the black bear is one of the most effective ways to support Texas' black bears. You can find a wealth of information available though the Education Resources tab of this website.
Encourage others to report possible bear sightings
Biologists depend on sightings to gain a better understanding of recolonization rates of black bears in Texas. By having an understanding of the number and rate at which black bears are returning to Texas, biologists can better develop and direct wildlife management plans for the species, as well as education and outreach activities in the communities adjacent to black bear habitat. Both of these aspects are imperative if Texans are to once again successfully cohabitate with this native species.
Know how to properly document and report potential sightings
If you encounter indicators of a bear, such as markings on a tree, paw prints or scat, include an item for scale next to the object in question and take a photograph. Rulers with visible numbers are best, but you can always improvise using your hand, foot, phone, coin, pen, or another item of known size.
Document information regarding the specifics of the evidence or sighting. In your description/report, include the date, location, habitat type (was it in a wooded area, bottomland, residential etc?) and time of day. If you believe you saw a bear, also note the animal's coat coloration, activity it was engaged in, gait, or any other distinguishing characteristics. If at all possible, include a photo of the animal.
Report your sighting to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department by calling (512) 389-4505. To report a dead or potentially poached black bear in Texas call Operation Game Thief at (800) 792-4263.
Know what to do if you encounter a black bear
If you encounter a bear, stay calm. Stand at your full height and even make yourself appear larger than you are. If you have a backpack, take it off and hold it over your head, or simply raise your arms. Speak in a calm but firm voice to the bear, making it aware of your presence and slowly back away. Never turn your back on a bear or run.
Black bears may stand on their hind legs to gain a better view, but this is not an aggressive posture. Learn more about what to do if you encounter a bear through BearSmart.com.
Support the conservation of Texas land
Habitat loss and broken areas of undeveloped corridors (habitat fragmentation) are some of the biggest challenges to this naturally recolonizing species. Texas land is over 90% privately owned, providing an unprecedented opportunity for Texas landowners to play a role in habitat conservation and return of a native species. Conservation easements are one way to conserve valuable habitat for your state, wildlife, and your family. A conservation easement is a voluntary legal agreement that ensures a property will be maintained according to the landowner’s wishes for years into the future and may also qualify the landowner for tax benefits. Landowners maintain full ownership of these easements and may pass the land down through family or sell the land in the future. Every conservation easement document is individually crafted and reflects the special qualities of the land protected and the needs of the landowner. Landowner goals include protecting their farm or ranch land, wildlife habitat, open spaces, water resources, a scenic vista, historic buildings, or archaeological sites. Check with the organizations below for more information on conservation easements.