Although most people do not realize it, the American black bear is found throughout North America, including the state of Texas. Black bear use habitats ranging from swamps to desert scrub, which is exactly where the bear recently spotted in West Texas lives. Black bear are seen quite often between Del Rio, Comstock, even as far east as Junction, and all the way west to Alpine and the city of El Paso.
Most black bears are found in forests, but they are omnivores and can make it anywhere. At least two subspecies of black bear are thought to occur in Texas: the Mexican Black Bear (Ursus americanus eremicus) and the New Mexico Black Bear (subspecies U. a. amblyceps). Both are found in West Texas in desert scrub or woodland habitats within scattered mountain ranges, predominantly the Chisos and Guadalupe Mountains. In addition, both subspecies of black bear are state-listed as endangered in Texas.
More About Black Bear in Texas
The black bear is a strong, large mammal. It is actually one of the largest mammals in North America. Adult bears reach a length of 5 to 6 feet, height at the shoulder of 2 to 3 feet, and weigh 200 to 300 pounds! Although called a “black” bear, fur colors can range from black to the occasional cinnamon-brown. The front claws of a bear are generally longer than hind claws.
Black bears are capable of climbing trees, but adult bears generally prefer remaining on the ground. The black bear is a true omnivore, opportunistically feeding on a wide range of food items. In fact, plant material almost always comprises over 50 percent of the black bear’s diet. This is why hunters commonly see black bears at their deer feeders. Insects and other animals comprise a small percentage.