Potential Corridors for Black Bears in West Texas

Since the 1990s black bears have been staging a comeback in the mountain ranges of west Texas and the neighboring mountain ranges in northern Mexico and now have a breeding population in Big Bend National Park. To better understand if, how, when and where black bears will return to their historic habitats, we used computer models to evaluate recolonization scenarios for the Trans-Pecos region.

Based on previously published research on black bear populations in the Trans-Pecos region, we located several likely habitat patches and possible corridor routes for use in predicting black bear movement throughout the area.  We used habitat suitability index (HSI) maps to create a ‘core’ habitat and a ‘usable’ habitat map.  Using these maps, we created a corridor dispersal map of the Trans-Pecos region, showing likely routes that bears would use to move into, out of, and throughout the Trans-Pecos region. 

One of the hardest decisions to make in environmental management is deciding where to focus effort and resources to best protect a species.  This corridor map will help wildlife managers evaluate the best places where to focus their efforts for the naturally recolonizing black bear in western Texas.  The corridor routes indicate where to expect black bear movement, including locations that cross roads and the international border between Mexico and the United States.  This map will also help with outreach and education targeted to landowners in highly suitable areas and along potential corridors. In addition, the international corridor routes cover a fairly small area along the border, making it possible to prioritize this area to allow free movement of bears between the countries. 

Data available from previous studies of radio-collared black bears was used to determine potential bear habitat.

 

corridors

Map showing potential travel corridors for black bears in Trans-Pecos Texas.