A Louisiana black bear and her three cubs were relocated March 6, 2001 through a joint venture between the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF), the Black Bear Conservation Committee (BBCC) and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS). The 175 pound female bear was located via radio collar in a brush den near the East Carroll/Madison parish line.
After sedating the adult bear, biologists examined her and the cubs and pronounced them in good health. LDWF black bear biologist Maria Davidson joined USFWS staff in transporting the bears to their new home in the Department^s Red River Wildlife Management Area (WMA). The area is comprised of 36,210 acres of bottomland hardwood and managed by LDWF for the public in Concordia Parish. The WMA was chosen for its excellent black bear habitat.
Females and cubs are targeted for relocation specifically because of the mother^s instinct to stay with the young cubs. Bears have a powerful homing instinct and may travel hundreds of miles to reach familiar territory, almost surely encountering the dangers of traffic and other human interference along the way. A mother bear, however, will stay with her young cubs until they are old enough to leave the den. By that time the mother should be acclimated to her new surroundings and likely to remain there.
This bear and her cubs will be observed throughout the reacclimation process by Louisiana State University School of Forestry, Wildlife and Fisheries Assistant Professor Michael Chamberlain and graduate student Kyle Van Why. Their research is funded by the CoyPu Foundation. Van Why will gather data on the transplanted bear along with five more bears targeted for relocation this year. He will also observe black bears at the source site in Madison and East Carroll parishes to aid in selection of next year^s relocation candidates.
"The repopulation process has been attempted twice before in Arkansas and the Great Smoky Mountains," said Chamberlain. Both programs were successful, though neither included Louisiana black bears. "We are cautiously optimistic," Chamberlain added.
The latest relocation is part of a larger effort by the BBCC to reintroduce Louisiana black bears currently listed under provisions of the Endangered Species Act in 1992, into their historic habitat around the state. In addition to relocating bears, LDWF has further supported large-scale reintroduction by joining with the BBCC in various educational programs and replanting more than 20,000 acres of agricultural lands on WMAs with vegetation suitable for bears and other species.
For more information, contact Paul Davidson at 225/763-5425
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