American Black Bear

Hunted hard in the 19th century for reputed predator control, and long suffering from habitat loss, black bears became very scarce in the Lone Star State. However, under federal threatened and state endangered species protection, and with animals returning to Texas from Mexico and Louisiana, their numbers are on the rebound.


Narrator: Diana Doan-CriderTitle: Short HistoryDuration: 00:01:20Date: July 24, 2020Diana Doan-Crider, Ph.D., is a biologist, a founder and director of the Animo Partnership in Natural Resources, and an adjunct professor in the Department of Ecosystem Science and Management at Texas A&M University. She has studied black bears for over 30 years, but explains that scientists have a very relatively short and limited experience with bears in their natural state, since they were nearly killed out in the centuries since European settlement.Narrator: Diana Doan-CriderTitle: Hill Country ProspectsDuration: 00:02:06Date: July 24, 2020Diana Doan-Crider, Ph.D., is the founder and director of the Animo Partnership in Natural Resources, an adjunct professor at Texas A&M University, and a bear biologist. Here she explains the challenges for black bears to return to the Texas Hill Country. Despite its fine habitat, there is severe potential for conflicts with people there as ranches are subdivided and land is developed.Narrator: Jonah EvansTitle: TriageDuration: 00:02:55Date: December 3, 2020Based in Boerne, Texas, Jonah Evans works as the state mammalogist for Texas Parks and Wildlife. He is responsible for study and protection of non-game and rare mammals in Texas, but has had direct experience with black bears, based on years in the Trans-Pecos and Big Bend area, which bears have been recolonizing, and by his part in drafting bear response guidelines and management plans. Here he discusses the hard triage decisions that he, and the state at large, must make to allocate resources for protecting bears, as well as other creatures that may be facing even more challenges.Narrator: Jonah EvansTitle: Deer BaitingDuration: 00:01:46Date: December 3, 2020Jonah Evans, state mammalogist for Texas Parks and Wildlife, has watched the natural recolonization of west Texas by black bears and worked to manage their recovery so that humans and bears can coexist. However, he recognizes that the wide-spread use of deer feeders, catnip for bears, will pose a challenge for the bear's peaceful return.Narrator: Bonnie McKinneyTitle: Decline and RecoveryDuration: 00:03:57Date: April 5, 2001Mrs. McKinney, a field biologist who has worked for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Texas Parks and Wildlife and private landowners, discusses the decline and recovery of black bear in Coahuila and west Texas.Narrator: Bonnie McKinneyTitle: His BearsDuration: 00:01:01Date: April 5, 2001Bonnie McKinney worked as a field biologist for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Texas Parks and Wildlife in the Trans-Pecos, and saw the natural recovery of the American black bear in that region, encountering both suspicion and welcome among local landowners.Narrator: Marcos ParedesTitle: Sierra del CarmenDuration: 00:03:35Date: April 3, 2001Marcos Paredes served as the federal District Ranger on the Rio Grande along the southern boundary of Big Bend National Park, and also led pack trips into the Sierra del Carmen, Big Bend's sister park in Mexico. Here he tells about the discovery of black bear in the Sierra del Carmen, and their later return to Big Bend.Narrator: Raymond SkilesTitle: Predator ControlDuration: 00:03:03Date: October 29, 2020Raymond Skiles worked at Big Bend National Park from 1979 through 2018, serving as a wildlife biologist and wilderness coordinator. Part of his duties included monitoring and supporting the recovery of the American black bear to the Park. While a breeding population has been seen in the Park since 1988, there was none when the Park was created in 1944. Mr. Skiles attributes this to the heavy sheep and goat ranching, and associated predator control, during the 1930s and '40s on lands slated for later Park protection.Narrator: Raymond SkilesTitle: Human/bear ConflictDuration: 00:06:22Date: October 29, 2020Raymond Skiles worked at Big Bend National Park for nearly 40 years, and during that time dealt with efforts to reduce human/bear conflicts. When breeding bears began to appear in Big Bend in the late 1980s, Skiles sought to learn from earlier bad experiences at Yosemite, Yellowstone, Glacier and other parks hosting bears. As a result, Big Bend introduced bear-resistant trash cans, fenced landfills, hardened cabin doors, signage, articles, rules, and other measures to ensure that the bears and humans could safely coexist in the Park.