U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell and Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal recently announced the proposal to remove the black bear from the Endangered Species List, which could make hunting the species legal again.
The proposal initiated a yearlong process to formally remove the Louisiana black bear (Ursus americanus luteolus) from the list of threatened and endangered species under the Endangered Species Act. The bear is one of 16 subspecies of the American black bear and is the state mammal of Louisiana.
This species of black bear is only found in Louisiana, East Texas, and western Mississippi, however, more than 80 percent of its natural habitat was altered or destroyed by 1980. It was added to the endangered species list in 1992, when its numbers dwindled to just a few hundred.
“The Louisiana black bear symbolizes how the Endangered Species Act can be a remarkably effective tool to protect and recover threatened and endangered species when we work in close partnership with states and other stakeholders,” Jewell said. “Across Texas, Louisiana and Mississippi, we have worked together with our partners to protect and restore habitat, reintroduce populations and reduce the threats to the bear. Today’s recovery of the bear is yet another success story of the Endangered Species Act.”
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service partnered with private landowners and public organizations, such as the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries and University of Tennessee, to address the habitat loss in the bear’s range. This partnership restored more than 750,000 acres of habitat, and bear populations are increasing in number at stable growth rates.
This recovery effort cost approximately $2.4 million in state and federal funds over the past 20 years. The Service expects the habitat and population numbers to remain stable for at least 100 years.
The next step in the process includes a public comment period through July 20. During this time period, the Service seeks additional data on the species and any current or planned activities which could impact the bear.