For the first time ever, Louisiana has approved a hunting season for black bears.
The Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Commission (LWFC) announced that it has adopted a Notice of Intent to hold a hunting season for the animal in December 2024. The commission voted unanimously on Thursday to allow the hunt.
The hunt will be by lottery and will be restricted to northeast Louisiana. Cubs and females with cubs will not be legal to harvest. Only “properly licensed Louisiana residents” who win the hunt’s lottery will be allowed to harvest the animal. Lottery winners will have to attend a Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries “bear hunter training course” according to the commission. Only 10 permits will be issued.
The Louisiana black bear was listed as threatened in 1992 under the Endangered Species Act due to years of overhunting and widespread deforestation. Collaborative conservation efforts led to the bear being delisted in 2016, something the American government lauded as a “significant conservation success.”
Louisiana’s black bear numbers dwindled to near nonexistence in the 1950s and 1960s, but they have since swelled. John Hanks, manager of the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries large carnivore program, reportedly told commissioners at the Thursday meeting that the count of black bears in the state now comes to 1,212, but added that’s not the entire population and just what his department could census.
“It’s been a long time coming,” Maria Davidson, the large carnivore manager for the Safari Club International Foundation who has been awarded for her efforts to restore the bears’ population told commissioners at last Thursday’s meeting, Shreveport Times reports. “It’s timely and necessary.”
Others reportedly disagreed at the meeting and called the proposal “premature.” Dr. Michael Caire reportedly said during testimony at the Thursday meeting that he was “not opposed to hunting,” but did think the hunt was “excessive.”
Louisiana’s black bear is the state’s official animal and is also, according to the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, “the state’s most recent conservation success story.” The bear is also the inspiration for the “Teddy Bear” which is named for President Theodore Roosevelt.
As the legend goes, President Roosevelt was hunting in 1902 when he refused to shoot a bear that was tied to a tree by members of his hunting party. This led to a cartoon in the Washington Post depicting the president’s mercy, which inspired a Brooklyn candy store owner to make stuffed animals and name them “Teddy Bears.”