BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) — A hunting season for black bears could be on the way in Louisiana. The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries made a big announcement at its October commission meeting.
Jeff Duguay, the LDWF director of the research and species management branch, said the commission plans to introduce a notice of intent at the next meeting on Friday, Nov. 3.
The Louisiana Black Bear spent 24 years on the Threatened on the Endangered Species List and was removed in 2016.
Did you know the species inspired a childhood staple? According to a U.S. Department of the Interior news release, then-President Theodore Roosevelt was on a hunting trip in Mississippi in 1902, he refused to shoot a bear tied to a tree, and the incident was featured in a “Washington Post” cartoon. It led to a New York candy store owner making the first “Teddy” bear.
So why consider enacting a black bear hunting season?
“The goal for LDWF is to manage black bear populations for long-term intrinsic wildlife and ecological values and to maintain the population within acceptable biological and cultural carrying capacity,” Duguay said.
There has been an increase in the number of bears in Louisiana.
“It is estimated that there are approximately 1,200 bears in the state,” Duguay said.
There are seven bear management areas in the state, and LDWF monitors Areas 1-4, where most of the bears are found.
Duguay said LDWF is working with the leading expert on modeling North American black bears — Joe Clark, Ph.D. from the University of Tennessee.
“Based on Dr. Clark’s population models, we know that Bear Management Area 4 has the highest bear density and population in the state,” Duguay said. “Additionally, this area has the highest bear/vehicle strikes in the state.”
Area 4 is in the far northeast and includes: Madison, Tensas, East Carroll, West Carroll and parts of Richland and Franklin parishes.
“The Black Bear has become a nuisance in many parts of the state and disrupted hunters and farmers,” State Sen. Stuart Cathey Jr., District 33, said on Facebook. He said he spoke to LDWF about enacting the season and is excited it’s in the works.
“Based on the population models, we can have a conservative bear hunt in Bear Management Area 4 without causing harm to the population,” said Duguay. A conservative bear hunt would only remove the surplus and “not cause a population decline.”
If a black bear hunting season were enacted, “the Commission would set the date, it could possibly be in late 2024,” said Duguay. They would also set the length of the season.
If a bear hunting season does become a reality in Louisiana, the bears harvested will be the property of the hunters. That means “a hunter may have taxidermy mounts of their bear if they so choose,” Duguay said.