National Wildlife Refuge
|3599 Bayou Black Dr.
houma, LA 70360
Phone Number: 337-828-0092
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|Refuge staff working with Louisiana's teachers to learn more about the refuge and its mission species, the threatened Louisiana Black Bear.|
Continued . . . The habitat is typical of the black bear habitat in coastal Louisiana, isolated from development through time by it's harsh conditions for human use. This habitat supports black bears by providing seasonal foods such as vegetation, fruits, berries, nuts, invertebrates and small animals. The bottomland hardwood areas provide habitat through the presence of hard mast (nut) producing tree species and protection from flooding during the critical denning and reproductive season. It also provides important habitat components involving security from human disturbance and secluded den sites for reproduction. In this coastal area tree dens are valuable den sites that provide security and protection from flooding. Mature cypress trees that can act as den trees have become rare in this coastal habitat, however the few that remain are very important to reproducing female bears. As an alternative, most bears in this area den in ground nests formed on slight rises in topography and protected from disturbance by thick brush and inaccessible habitat. It is estimated that approximately 10 female bears use the Bayou Teche Refuge as all or part of their home range and 20 male bears incorporate the Refuge as part of their home range. Approximately 20% of the documented dens are found in the areas immediately on or adjacent to the refuge.
The habitat of Bayou Teche Refuge provides a home for many diverse species in addition to black bears. The refuge is home to popular mammals such as raccoons, otter, deer and squirrel. A diversity of bird species use the refuge, from the many species of elegant egrets and heron that are present year-round, to the delicate neo-tropical migrant songbirds that use this area as a resting and feeding area both before and after their rigorous trip across the Gulf of Mexico. Reptiles and amphibians are also a prominent part of the fauna of the refuge. They are range from the highly visible alligators to the largely invisible, but highly audible, frogs of the swamp. Although not often seen, the invertebrate community o this swampy habitat is vibrant, and provides a strong link in the food chain of this area – crawfish feed a lot more than just the Cajuns in coastal Louisiana!
As with much of coastal Louisiana the Refuge is impacted by many larger environmental issues. In an area highly impacted by human land use changes such as a multitude of canals and levee systems, changes in hydrologic patterns have make this area subject to the effects of coastal land loss. Failures of the natural system to replenish soils to naturally sinking swampland is progressively leading to the submergence of wooded swamps. As coastal Louisiana witnesses its coastal marshes decay and turn into open lakes and the Gulf of Mexico, the swamps behind them are also subjected to structural decay due to the same forces.
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