After being persecuted for many years, resulting in their disappearance from the Texas landscape, bears have been making a comeback since 1985. In East Texas they naturally spilled over from Louisiana and Arkansas, and in West Texas they came over from Mexico. Historically they were once found all over the state.
On Oct. 19, a local resident shot and killed a female bear in his backyard after the bear had been pursued and harassed by the public for days, separating her from her cub. The black bear is listed as a “Threatened Species” by Texas Parks and Wildlife.
Charges were recently filed against the alleged shooter. Shooting a bear is a Class C misdemeanor which carries a fine of only $500. Why someone would shoot a bear is a mystery. Individuals who illegally have shot bears in the past in Texas invariably claim self defense but in some cases those bears have been shot in the back.
Bears are not aggressive, and we tend to have an inordinate fear of them. That fear is misplaced and should be directed toward dogs who kill on average 30 people per year, including their owners.
If the shooter decides to plead guilty or disputes the charges in court and loses, he should also be required to pay civil restitution for the replacement value of the bear, which is valued at a little less than $12,000.
That would drive the lesson home to the public that bears are not to be shot or harassed.
That should also help cover the cost of the transportation and special care the cub is receiving in New Mexico so it can eventually be released back into the wild.
Del Rio, Texas