AUSTIN With winter quickly approaching, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) encourages residents in the western, southwestern and northeastern portions of Texas to practice appropriate bear safety measures and report sightings.
Black bears are native to Texas and part of the state’s natural heritage and ecosystem. Guided by an excellent sense of smell, their behavior is driven largely by appetite. Fall provides their last opportunity to feast before denning up for the winter.
The natural instincts to forage become a problem for bears when they find easy meals from humans, such as garbage, pet food or corn from a deer feeder. If a bear continually finds food around humans, it can become habituated, losing its fear of people and creating a potentially dangerous situation, a news release said.
Individuals enjoying the outdoors are encouraged to stay alert and stay together, keep dogs leashed, double bag food and trash while hiking or camping, camp safely and know what to do if you see a bear.
Bear-proof garbage containers are a great option that many communities have deployed to reduce bear encounters. TPWD biologists encourage keeping trash bags in a secure location until the morning of trash pickup and feeding pets inside or limiting pet-food portions to an amount that can be consumed completely at each feeding.
More information can be found on the TPWD and Bear Wise websites, including how to secure deer feeders or apiaries with electric fences and the how to use “unwelcome mats.” Unwelcome mats, made from rough wood and nails or brads, can be placed under windows, at doors and fence openings and around outdoor freezers and refrigerators to discourage bears without causing serious injury, the release said.
Bears are a non-game animal that have been granted state protected status as a threatened species, so it is against the law to hunt, harass or kill them.