Louisiana Black Bear Saved by ESA

20 May 2015 | Center for Biological Diversity News Release

St. Petersburg, Fla.— The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced today that the Louisiana black bear, or “Teddy,” has met its recovery goals and no longer needs the protections of the Endangered Species Act. Populations of the bear have increased, are considered viable over the next 100 years, and occur in areas where habitat has been protected by implementation of the bear’s recovery plan.

“The Louisiana black bear is an Endangered Species Act success story,” said Jaclyn Lopez, Florida director at the Center for Biological Diversity. “The bear has met recovery goals 10 years ahead of schedule and is continuing to improve.”

The Louisiana black bear — nicknamed for Teddy Roosevelt after he chose not to shoot one while hunting in Louisiana — is one of 16 unique subspecies of American black bears. Historically these animals ranged throughout Louisiana and into Texas, Mississippi and Arkansas. The Service protected them under the Act in 1992 because of pressures from hunting and habitat destruction and fragmentation. It is estimated there were only a few hundred bears at the time of listing.

The Service’s 1995 recovery plan established criteria that, when met, would alert officials that protection under the Act may no longer be needed. The criteria include the presence of at least two viable subpopulations (in the Tensas and Atchafalaya river basins); the establishment of immigration and emigration corridors between the two subpopulations; and protection of the habitat and interconnecting corridors that support each of the two viable subpopulations. Today’s proposal finds that the criteria have been met.

Since listing under the Act, four breeding subpopulations of Louisiana black bears have emerged, likely supporting more than 500 bears. The areas supporting Louisiana black bear breeding subpopulations have increased more than 430 percent, from 340,000 acres to more than 1.4 million acres in Louisiana and Mississippi. In addition to the proposal to delist the Louisiana black bear, the Service is soliciting comments on a draft post-delisting monitoring plan.

“The recovery of the Louisiana black bear and hundreds of other species shows that the Endangered Species Act does work,” said Lopez. “With a combination of careful monitoring, reduction in hunting and other mortality, and habitat protection, Teddy’s making a comeback.”

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 825,000 members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

Contact: Jaclyn Lopez, (727) 490-9190, jlopez@biologicaldiversity.org


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