Posted: Jul 31, 2012 5:51 PM
Updated: Jul 31, 2012 6:43 PM
STARR COUNTY - Texas Parks and Wildlife game wardens have converged near the small community of Falcon Heights to track a black bear.
Wildlife experts said the animal likely came across the Rio Grande from Mexico and the drought may have forced it to meander near the water's edge. The last sighting of this kind was reported more than 55 years ago.
"What we don't recommend is people take it or try to kill it. It is illegal. It's a protected species and we don't want people killing it," said Texas Parks and Wildlife Captain Fernando Cervantes.
He said wardens are looking for tracks to find the bear.
"Depending on the size of the bear, you're going to have a paw print. Its claws are going to show," he said.
An employee with the International Boundary and Water Commission snapped a photo of the bear Monday just south of the Zapata-Starr county line.
"I was hoping it'd end up here actually. I could use a bear," Larry Barnett said. His property is near the area where the bear was spotted.
"It's not uncommon for them to come across, especially as low as the river is. They will come across," Cervantes said.
The game warden said the bear may be somewhere in the dense brush in an unpopulated area two miles south of Falcon Dam. But he worries the animal's appetite may take him closer to the small communities nearby.
"We'll come in and investigate and look for signs and well get together with wildlife division," Cervantes said. "We will trap this bear and relocate him to a safe location where it will be away from the public. Where he won't hurt anybody and nobody will hurt him."
Cervantes hopes landowners like Barnett reach for their phone and not their guns if they spot the bear.
Officials said residents should call 1-800-792-4263 if they see the bear.