Bears And Big Bend
Desert ranges cannot be healthy without a full compliment of predators, prey, and big grazers (bison or cattle). Black Bears are necessary for the health of all animals and habitat. As with wolves at Yellowstone, bear will speed restorative ecology in the parks of far-West Texas.
Note: This piece originally appeared in Texas Monthly online.
Black bears are back in Big Bend National Park…
…after being hunted basically out of existence in the first chunk of the twentieth century. That’s great news for black bears in general, but it’s apparently not so great for Big Bend. According to the Austin American-Statesman, park rangers are worried that the black bear resurgence could lead to problems with the park’s similarly surging human visitor population. There haven’t been any attacks, but park rangers definitely aren’t messing around. Writes the Statesman: “They convene weekly formal meetings to share bear reconnaissance; they mount motion-detection cameras to capture their comings and goings; they dispatch patrols to track their presence; they even scrutinize scat along trails to see how fresh it might be.” Scat means poop, by the way. They are looking at bear poop. Anyway, the rangers say they’ve “bear-proofed” Big Bend by replacing regular trash bins with less bear-friendly receptacles and fencing off the park’s landfill and screened-in lodgings.