The American black bear (Ursus americanus) is one of largest terrestrial mammals found in Texas. Despite the black bear's large size and charismatic nature, its distribution across the state has been difficult to determine due to outdated distribution maps. Although recent sighting reports indicate that the current distribution of black bears in Texas may be expanding in some areas, researching changes in black bear populations can be difficult and cost prohibitive. Data from community science initiatives and natural history collections can be useful to better understand species distributions and ecology. We used records from Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, iNaturalist, and VertNet to describe the distribution of U. americanus in Texas. Our results indicate that black bears may not be widely distributed across Texas and may be breeding in only a small number of counties. Our study highlights the usefulness of successful community science programs and the long-term historical importance of natural history collection records and natural resource agency data sets in better understanding geographic distributions of various species, including U. americanus. These initiatives paired with improved communication and collaboration between natural history collections, community scientists, and municipal, state, and federal natural resource and wildlife agencies can provide valuable information for a variety of species and facilitate future research.
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