The Louisiana Black Bear Repatriation Project in east-central Louisiana is enjoying continued success as 23 females and 55 cubs have been moved from their winter dens in the Tensas Basin to artificial dens in the repatriation area since 2001. The repatriation area totals 179,604 acres of habitat and includes Grassy Lake, Red River, Three Rivers and Spring Bayou wildlife management areas and Lake Ophelia National Wildlife Refuge.
The female bears are moved in March every year with their newborn cubs. The bears maternal instincts overcome their homing instincts, and the females stay with their young cubs in the new environment. By the time the cubs are old enough to move very far, the females have established a new home range and are comfortable in the new area.
The restoration team made up of the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Black Bear Conservation Committee, LSU and the U.S. Department of Agriculture Wildlife Services monitors these females on a regular basis. These bears are outfitted with radio collars and other state-of-the-art equipment that allows researchers and agency personnel to know the whereabouts and activity level of each bear. Daily monitoring provides valuable information about how the bears are adapting to their new environment. These bears will be closely followed throughout the hunting season to ensure their safety.
Hunters in the vicinity might get a glimpse of one of these bears as they are sitting on deer stands or walking through the woods. A deer feeder is also more likely to attract a bear to a deer stand and increase the likelihood of an encounter. Bears are generally very shy animals and it is recommended that a person that encounters a bear wave his or her arms and shout to frighten the animal away. Hunters are reminded that killing a bear is a state and federal offense with penalties up to $25,000 and one year in jail. There is also a reward offered for any information leading to the arrest of anybody harming a Louisiana black bear.
EDITORS: For more information call Maria Davidson at 225-765-2385.