Louisiana black bear
|Louisiana black bear|
|Subspecies:||U. a. luteolus|
|Ursus americanus luteolus
The Louisiana black bear (Ursus americanus luteolus), one of 16 subspecies of the American black bear, is found in parts of Louisiana, mainly along the Mississippi River Valley and the Atchafalaya River Basin. It was classified as 'threatened' under the U.S. Endangered Species Act from 1992-2016.
The validity of this subspecies has been repeatedly debated.
The subspecies does not have a substantially different appearance than the nominate U. americanus americanus, but the skull is relatively long, narrow, and flat, and the molars are proportionately large. Fur color is usually black but a cinnamon phase is known to exist.
Distribution and habitat
Four areas are currently known to have Louisiana black bear populations:
- St. Mary Parish and Iberia Parish in south Louisiana,
- Pointe Coupee Parish in central Louisiana,
- The Richard K. Yancey Wildlife Management Area in Concordia and Avoyelles Parishes, in east-central Louisiana
- Tensas, Madison, and West Carroll Parishes in northeast Louisiana.
The Louisiana black bear can travel for long distances and has been sighted in many areas of Louisiana not normally considered bear habitat. Occurrences are reported from East Texas and sub-populations have expanded into Mississippi. Black bears have been sighted in Kisatchie National Forest, Allen Parish, Natchitoches Parish, and Bossier City.
While the IUCN classifies the conservation situation of the black bear as a species as Least Concern, the Louisiana black bear as a subspecies was listed as 'threatened' under the U.S. Endangered Species Act in 1992. Under this ruling, all bears within the historic range of the Louisiana black bear, from east Texas to southern Mississippi, have been protected. On April 11, 2016, the Louisiana black bear was removed from the list as well as the Similarity-of-Appearance Protections for the American Black Bear.
Loss of habitat was the primary reason the bear was placed on the Federal endangered species list. Programs and initiatives have resulted in the conservation and restoration of over 600,000 acres of forestland in the Mississippi River floodplain of Louisiana. The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service have acquired land for Wildlife Management Areas and National Wildlife Refuges. Reforestation on private property has been accomplished through U.S.D.A. programs such as the Wetlands Reserve Program and Conservation Reserve Program, the American Forest Foundation, as well as through programs of private conservation organizations such as the Black Bear Conservation Coalition (BBCC), The Nature Conservancy and Ducks Unlimited.
- Garshelis, D.L., Scheick, B.K., Doan-Crider, D.L., Beecham, J.J. & Obbard, M.E. (2016). "Ursus americanus". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. IUCN. 2016: e.T41687A45034604. Retrieved 8 March 2017.
- Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. Louisiana Black Bear (PDF) (Report).
- Google books: Mammals of America; Harold Elmer Anthony University Society, Incorporated, 1917, pp 98- Retrieved 2017-03-07
- United States Fish and Wildlife services: Louisiana Black Bear habitat- Retrieved 201-03-06
- The Clarion Ledger: Mississippi man sentenced in Louisiana black bear killing- Retrieved 2017-03-07
- USDA; Kisatchie Wildlife, Black Bear sightings- Retrieved 2017-03-06
- Federal Register: Removal from the Endangered Species List- Retrieved 2017-03-16
- Forestry assistance programs- Retrieved 2017-03-07
- Black Bear Conservation Coalition- Retrieved 2017-03-07