The state's black bear population has rebounded after almost disappearing in the 1950s and 1960s
Hunters may soon be able to add bears to the list of game animals they can legally pursue in Louisiana. Image by Wirestock Creators
Louisiana may establish a black bear hunting season as early as next year in response to a resurgence in the bear’s population. Bears had almost disappeared from the Pelican State in the 1950s and ’60s.
According to Shreveport Times, the Louisiana Wildlife Commission heard a briefing on the bears’ current population and will likely vote to create a bear season in November.
"We can certainly have a conservative harvest in limited areas," said John Hanks, manager of the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries’ large carnivore program.
Louisiana's black bear was removed from the endangered species list in 2015, although there is an ongoing lawsuit challenging the removal.
Today, the Louisiana black bear population is at least 1,212 animals. The bulk of the bears can be found along the Mississippi Delta and in the Atchafalaya Basin. The largest population is in the Tensas National Wildlife Refuge.
"There are bears all over the state," Hanks said. "This (number) is not all of the bears we have; it's all of the bears we have censused."
Hanks said the current estimate is probably 80 to 90% of the state’s bear population.
Richard Kennedy of the Safari Club International said, “Clearly, we have a strong bear population. We're in support of anything that moves forward a season."
In 2018, a lawsuit led by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) with co-counsel Atchafalaya Basinkeeper said the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service used "false assumptions and shoddy science" to make its decision for the removal of Louisiana black bears from the endangered species list.
The lawsuit claims the bear population is inflated and still needs the protection of the Endangered Species Act, saying the recovery corridors don't connect true native populations, a requirement for delisting.