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Saturday, April 20th, 2024

Breaking News for

Sportsmen Since 1967

Saturday, April 20th, 2024

Breaking News for

Sportsmen Since 1967

Louisiana looks to revive black bear hunt after nearly 40 years

The proposed bear hunting season in Louisiana would be limited to December 2024 and confined to the northeast corner of the state. (Stock photo)

Baton Rouge, La. (AP) — A move is under way that animal-rights advocates hope will persuade the state to end plans to overturn a nearly 40-year-old hunting ban on black bears in Louisiana.

Jeff Dorson, executive director of the Humane Society of Louisiana, started an online petition in late December after the state Department of Wildlife and Fisheries began a process that could let hunters kill up to 10 bears this year.

The petition, which says it’s better to “educate our residents to live with other creatures … than to kill them,” had just over 7,500 signatures as of Jan. 17.

Black bears had all but disappeared from the state by the 1950s and 1960s, but wildlife experts say they’ve counted at least 1,212 bears in just the Mississippi Delta and the Atchafalaya Basin. However, John Hanks, manager of the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries large carnivore program, said the current estimate is probably 80% to 90% of the bear population.

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Louisiana banned bear hunting in 1988. Four years later, the bear was granted federal protections under the Endangered Species Act. In 2016, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service removed the bear from the endangered list after deeming it mostly recovered.

A managed hunting season will have little impact on the species, state biologists have said.

The proposed hunting season would be limited to December 2024 and confined to the northeast corner of the state.

Hunting advocates contend killing a few bears each year will help them from becoming a nuisance in rural and suburban areas.

“There are ever-increasing reports of bear conflict,” said Mark Lance, a southern region coordinator for the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation, a hunting advocacy group. “Hunting is the most desirable way to balance their numbers.”

But opponents said reviving bear-hunting seasons will put the animal’s recovery at risk.

Dorson said the state isn’t doing enough to curb bear versus human conflicts. Rather than kill bears, Louisiana should “teach people to coexist,” he said.

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