There have been at least four documented sightings of black bear in East Texas. They appear to be young males looking for new home ranges and are probably from Oklahoma and Arkansas.

While bears from these two states, as well as Louisiana, occasionally wander into East Texas, breeding pairs have been absent for almost 100 years.

If you encounter a bear, biologists recommend that you talk calmly while backing away slowly. Don’t make direct eye contact and don’t run away. If the bear approaches, they advise that you stay put and raise your arms or jacket to appear larger and then yell at the bear.

It is against the law to kill a bear in Texas. Penalties are up to $10,000, with added civil restitution, fines, jail time and loss of hunting privileges. The bear is listed as threatened by the State of Texas.