Researchers want East Texas hunters to report black bear sightin - KTRE.com | Lufkin and Nacogdoches, Texas

Researchers want East Texas hunters to report black bear sightings

Black bears are attracted to the corn feeders  often put out by hunters. (Source: KTRE Staff) Black bears are attracted to the corn feeders often put out by hunters. (Source: KTRE Staff)
Dr Chris Comer, a SFA wildlife management professor, studies bear corridors. Images and other bear evidence are useful in the research. (Source: KTRE Staff) Dr Chris Comer, a SFA wildlife management professor, studies bear corridors. Images and other bear evidence are useful in the research. (Source: KTRE Staff)
Hunter and SFA student Brandon Baker says he would be more likely to pull out a camera than a gun on a bear. (Source: KTRE Staff) Hunter and SFA student Brandon Baker says he would be more likely to pull out a camera than a gun on a bear. (Source: KTRE Staff)
All black bear sightings should be reported to the Texas Parks and Wildlife. (Source: KTRE Staff) All black bear sightings should be reported to the Texas Parks and Wildlife. (Source: KTRE Staff)
It's illegal to hunt bears in Texas. (Source: KTRE Staff) It's illegal to hunt bears in Texas. (Source: KTRE Staff)
EAST TEXAS (KLTV) -

It's not impossible in some parts of East Texas for a hunter to spot evidence of the Texas black bear. 

If it happens, researchers want to know about it.

Black bear sightings in East Texas are rare, but the chance of a hunter spotting a bear isn't impossible. Dr. Chris Comer, an assistant professor of wildlife management at Stephen F. Austin State University, studies the paths bears take.

"If you are up in Bowie County or Red River County in that area, along the northern part of East Texas, then there's a decent chance, especially in the fall when you have feeders out, like that, you'll see a bear,” Comer said. “If you are in Southeast Texas pretty unlikely. Not impossible, but pretty unlikely."

Bears love corn feeders. So do hunters. Knowing this, the Texas Black Bear Alliance describes hunters as a great resource for bear sightings. Hunters see all sorts of animals while in the woods. 

“You know hogs and coyotes and stuff like that, but a bear that would be kinda wild, especially out here,” said Brandon Baker, a hunter and a wildlife management student at SFA. “Honestly, I would probably be tempted to take out my phone and take a picture of it, more than shoot it."

That’s exactly what researchers encourage. 

“any, many hunters have game cameras out, particularly this time of year, and that's really where our best information about where bears are on the landscape comes from, are these game cameras,” Comer said.

Scat, a paw print, and fur are also verifiable evidence. A partnership with hunters where bears are reappearing is useful.

"Us being out there in the woods being their eyes and ears for them, as well as the game cameras, it benefits as well,” said Andrew Cruz, a hunter and an SFA forestry student. “You’re able to get a lot more results."

Sightings can be reported to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. Click here for the website, or call (903) 566-1626 ext. 209. The agency is currently revising the East Texas Black Bear Conservation Plan. You can also visit the website for the Texas Black Bear Alliance here.

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