How Many Louisiana Black Bears Still Exist?
At one time, the Louisiana Black Bear was the king of the bayou with a population of more than 80,000. These things were the largest mammals in the state and the top of the food chain. At one time, the population was down to an estimated 80 bears and they were listed as an Endanger Species from 1992-2016. Much like the American Buffalo, these things were hunted to near extinction and most of the places they called home were destroyed. However, according to the latest stats, the population is up to roughly 500-750 bears and climbing. In fact, one of the rare beauties was spotted in Bossier a few years ago hanging in a tree.
However, some experts dispute the official U.S. Fish and Wildlife numbers and claim the bears need to be put back onto the Endangered Species List. In fact, earlier this year, several conservation groups sued the FWS in an attempt to get the Louisiana Black Bear back on the list.
According to the suit, the Louisiana Black Bear recovery numbers are incorrect. The groups claim that there are a lot of non-native and hybrid bears that are being counted towards the recovery numbers that don't constitute actual Louisiana Black Bears and that our native bears need to be added back to the list. While I have not seen an update on this court case, I assume it has or will be tossed as similar lawsuits have failed to gain traction.
Even if the FWS numbers are 100% accurate, 750 bears now compared to the estimated 80,000 that used to exist is not a good. Not only is the Louisiana Black Bear the State's official mammal (state's have more than just state birds), but the Louisiana Black Bear is a piece of the American fabric. Here's a fact you probably didn't know: The Teddy Bear became a household name because of President Theodore Roosevelt refusing to shoot a Louisiana Black Bear that had been tied to a tree. So, our bears are the literal 'Teddy Bear' and need to be protected.