The Louisiana black bear was officially enrolled in the Endangered Species Act program back in 1992 after the bear’s population was cut down to fewer than 100 during the 1950’s and 1960’s.
Today, however, the status of the Louisiana black bear is one with a bright future. Conservation efforts by residents, state and federal agencies and other organizations have brought this species back from near extinction, and population estimates indicate there could be as many as 1,000 bears roaming in the Tensas National Wildlife Refuge, Upper Atchafalaya Basin and other connecting corridors such as the Three Rivers Wildlife Management Area in the great state of Louisiana.
Referred to many Louisiana residents as the original “Teddy Bear”, Louisiana’s black bear received the nickname after President Theodore Roosevelt refused to shoot a bear on a hunting trip in the early 1900’s. It is said that after not locating a single bear while on a hunt with Mississippi Governor Andrew H. Longino, Roosevelt’s assistants cornered and tied a black bear to a willow tree. The assistants then went and retrieved Roosevelt, naturally suggesting that he shoot the bear. As a true sportsman, Roosevelt refused to shoot the bear and the news story travelled across the country like wildfire, spawning the use of the term “teddy bear” as a stuffed animal, initially marketed by the Ideal Toy Company.
While black bear sightings are becoming more and more common in the state of Louisiana, officials are keeping a close eye on their numbers and have yet to begin discussing the possibility of a future hunt.
“We’re excited and looking forward to the official announcement,” Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Secretary Charlie Melancon told The News Star. “It’s a great comeback story.”
When asked specifically about the possibility of a limited hunting season in the future, Melancon was sure to let everyone know getting the bear removed from the endangered species list was his top priority at the moment, “but I think it’s premature to get to that point so soon after it’s been removed from the endangered list.”