The Louisiana Black Bear is considered the original ‘Teddy Bear’. And after two decades of efforts to increase the number of bears in Louisiana, the state is on the verge of allowing a very restrictive bear hunting season in late 2024.
Thirty years ago, seeing a bear wandering around a Louisiana pecan orchard would have been a rare sight. “In 1992, it was less that 400. Some think it was as few as a hundred or less,” explains John Hanks, head of the bear program for the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Department. The agency has relocated some black bears to parts of Louisiana over the past 20 years. And sections of farmland have been re-forested to extend and connect the bear’s natural habitat.
catch and release – tagging the black bear
Biologists set up several traps in pecan tree orchards in northeastern Louisiana. The falling pecans in autumn seem to attract the fruit and nut eating black bears. Within hours of baiting the traps with donuts, cameras show that bears were captured.
napping bear is tagged and examined
The biologists place a syringe on the metal pole that’s used to inject a medicine that puts the captured bear to sleep within ten minutes. That gives biologists time to tag the bear’s ears for identification. The animal gets a microchip, blood is drawn, and they take a hair sample and a small tooth to get the bear’s age. Captured female bears also get a collar with A GPS tracking device so biologists can follow her and her cubs for the next few years.
Louisiana black bear featured on TV
louisiana bear populations increase
The Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Department takes a census of black bears in four regions of the state with the highest concentrations of the animal. The latest bear count puts the number of Louisiana black bears at 1,212 in those areas. But Hanks estimates that the total bear population statewide likely exceeds 1,500.
the original teddy bear
In 1902, President Theodore Roosevelt made two bear hunting trips to Louisiana and Mississippi. On one of those trips, the President had not been successful in taking a bear. So a guide captured a juvenile bear and tied it to a tree for Roosevelt to take a shot. But the President refused to do such an unsportsmanlike act. The story of Teddy Roosevelt and the Louisiana black bear appeared in a political cartoon. And a clever toy maker created and sold a stuffed bear he called ‘Teddy’s Bear’.
a bear hunt in the future
The Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Commission has taken steps to allow a very limited bear hunting season in December, 2024. The state is proposing to issue only ten tags to hunters and landowners through a lottery system. The Commission is now taking public comments on its proposed hunting season. Click here for more information.
safety with the louisiana black bear
Biologist John Hanks answers questions about where to see, and how to stay safe around black bears in Louisiana. Also, for more information on dealing with black bears, click on this link to BearWise.org.