Louisiana black bear removed from List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife

Recently, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced that it was removing the Louisiana black bear (Ursus americanus luteolus) from the Federal List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife. The announcement appeared in the March 11, 2016 issue of the Federal Register (81 FR: 13124–13171), and the delisting became effective on April 11, 2016.

The Louisiana black bear is one of 16 subspecies of the American black bear, and it historically occurred from eastern Texas throughout Louisiana and southwestern Mississippi. It became part of American culture after a hunting trip to Mississippi in 1902, where President Theodore Roosevelt refused to shoot a bear that was trapped and tied to a tree by members of his hunting party. The episode was featured in a cartoon in The Washington Post, sparking the idea for a Brooklyn candy-store owner to create the “Teddy” bear.

In 1992, the Louisiana black bear was listed as a threatened subspecies primarily because of concerns about modification and reduction of habitat through activities such as conversion of bottomland hardwood forests to agriculture and human-related mortality (57 FR: 588).

In the final rule de-listing the bear, however, the Service indicates that “threats have been eliminated or reduced, adequate regulatory mechanisms exist, and populations are stable such that the species is not currently, and is not likely to again become, a threatened species within the foreseeable future in all or a significant portion of its range.”

In 1992, at the time of the listing, there were as few as 150 bears in Louisiana habitat. Today, the Service estimates that 500-750 bears live across the species’ current range where successful recovery efforts are allowing breeding populations to expand. 

Before and after the federal listing, NCASI was involved in research activities related to the Louisiana black bear, and supported several research projects addressing forest habitat use and movements. Results from the research informed conservation planning and recovery activities.

  

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