Louisiana Black Bear

Ursus americanus luteolus
LA Black Bear

The Louisiana black bear is federally listed as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act.  It is one of 16 recognized subspecies of the American black bear, and was once widespread in Texas, Louisiana, Arkansas, and Mississippi. With large-scale conversion of millions of acres of bottomland hardwood forests in the Lower Mississippi Alluvial Valley to agriculture, habitat loss severely impacted bear populations. 

Today, there are three core populations in Louisiana although scattered bears can be found throughout the state and in neighboring states as well.  The Tensas River Basin subpopulation in the north, which includes Tensas River NWR, has the highest number of bears. The Upper Atchafalaya subpopulation,  which includes Lake Ophelia NWR and has fewer bears and the Coastal subpopulation which includes Bayou Teche NWR has much lower numbers.  In the past, Tensas River NWR bears have been captured and moved to the other two areas to supplement their numbers. 

The Louisiana black bear is an opportunistic omnivore who mostly eats fruits, nuts, plants, and insects.  While they do consume meat, but it is generally carrion or an opportunistic kill  Distribution and abundance of food have a direct correlation to Louisiana black bear movement.  If food is abundant and easy to find, bears don't have to move very far.  Males typically move much farther than females in search of mates and young males may travel extreme distances dispersing from their families. 

Females reach sexual maturity at 3-4 years of age.  Bears breed in the summer, generally from June to August, and cubs are born in the den in late winter.  Dens are usually in tree cavities or on the ground.  Cubs usually stay with their mother until their second summer, when they leave her and begin searching for their own territory

Facts About Louisiana Black Bear

Average Size:

Adult males: 200-400 lb Adult females: 120-200 lb                  

Food: Wide variety;

mostly plant materials (hard and soft mast), insects, and meat if found opportunistically

Habitat:

Bottomland hardwood forests