It seems that a lot of large predators that formerly called Texas home are making a comeback here in the Lone Star State. There is also a recent report of a non-native predator making an appearance.
Sightings of big cats continue to roll in from areas of the state where such animals have long been thought extirpated. Cougars and the ever-elusive black panther top the list of big cats spotted. Cougars are known to inhabit and flourish in the Trans-Pecos region of Texas and deep South Texas along the Rio Grande River. The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department continues to take the position that no wild breeding population of cougars exists outside these areas. The black panther is not even discussed as a possibility in any official capacity despite a growing number of reports.
Now an even scarier cat has been reported stalking Southeast Texas. Police in the Brazoria County town of Oyster Creek have received multiple reports of a tiger prowling the area. You can read the story about the sightings in the Houston Chronicle here. The article claims that Texas Parks & Wildlife game wardens have investigated the area but found no sign of a large cat of any kind. The TP&W must have taken the reports seriously as the article says they even broke out night vision gear trying to catch a glimpse of the tiger. If true, this would be an incredibly dangerous situation for the people of Brazoria County.
The black bear continues to make news as it seems to be finding its way back into the eastern portion of the state. Like the cougar, black bears are known to inhabit the rough and arid areas of far West Texas. Bears did formerly inhabit the piney woods and swamps of East and Southeast Texas but hunting wiped them out by the mid 1900s. Oklahoma, Arkansas, and Louisiana bear populations have exploded over the past decade and it has long been thought to be just a matter of time before they made their way into remote areas of Texas. That time seems to be now. Bear sightings, particularly in Southeast and extreme Northeast Texas, are on the rise. What is surprising is that sightings are beginning to be reported from areas in what would be considered Central Texas. There was a nice article recently published in the San Antonio Express News regarding the come back of the black bear in Texas. You can access that article here.
I would be greatly interested in hearing reports of any big cats or black bear sighted in Texas by readers.
So, keep your eyes peeled as you travel the rural roads of Texas this holiday season. You might catch a glimpse of a mountain lion, black panther, or bear. Of course, if you are really lucky, you might catch a glimpse of something even more unusual. I would like to hear about that as well.