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Tensas River
National Wildlife Refuge

Black Bear on Tensas River NWR
2312 Quebec Road
Tallulah, LA   71282
E-mail: tensasriver@fws.gov
Phone Number: 318-574-2664
Visit the Refuge's Web Site:
Black Bear on Tensas River NWR
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Tensas River National Wildlife Refuge

The Tensas River National Wildlife Refuge was established through Public Law 96-285 on June 28, 1980 to preserve one of the largest privately owned tracts of bottomland hardwoods remaining in the Mississippi Delta. The bottomland hardwood forest contains a diversity of plant and animal species. Over 400 species of mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, and fish can be found on the refuge. The refuge consists of nearly 80,000 acres of bottomland hardwoods and oxbow lakes. This type of habitat once covered 25 million acres of the Mississippi Alluvial Valley.

Resting and feeding habitat for thousands of migrating and wintering waterfowl are provided by the refuge. The states largest population of the federally-listed threatened Louisiana black bear is found on the refuge. The last citing of the ivory-billed woodpecker, which is thought to be extinct by most scientists, occurred in the 1940's adjacent to what is now the Tensas River National Wildlife Refuge.

Getting There . . .
Tensas River National Wildlife Refuge is located in three parishes of northeast Louisiana. The visitor center and headquarters are approximately 60 miles east of Monroe, Louisiana, and 35 miles west of Vicksburg, Mississippi.

To reach the visitor center and headquarters heading eastbound on I-20: Exit at Waverly (exit 157). Make a left onto Hwy 577. After approximately 1½ -2 miles, make a right onto Hwy 80 heading eastbound towards Tallulah. Drive approximately 8 miles and make a right onto Quebec Road. Drive the approximately 11 miles of gravel road. The visitor center and headquarters is on the left.

To reach the visitor center and headquarters heading westbound on I-20: Exit at Tallulah (exit 171). Make a right onto Hwy 65 and drive approximately 2 miles in Tallulah. Make a left between the court house and Popeye's onto Hwy 80 (westbound). Drive approximately 7-8 miles on Hwy 80 and make a left onto Quebec Road. Follow the remaining directions above.

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Management Activities
Management activities on Tensas River National Wildlife Refuge help maintain the diverse habitats that support a wide variety of wildlife species. The bottomland hardwood forest and cooperative farming units are managed to provide habitat for the threatened Louisiana black bear, neo-tropical songbirds, migratory birds and other resident wildlife.

Several management techniques are undertaken by foresters on the refuge to preserve and restore the bottomland hardwood forest. New trees are planted to restore land once converted to agriculture. Selective thinning occurs in the bottomland hardwood stands to allow more sunlight to reach the forest floor and thus encourage growth of forage plants. Selective thinning also produces a healthier forest with trees of different ages and heights. Small plots of declining trees are removed to allow for habitat diversity that is important to the Louisiana black bear. Smaller openings throughout the forest are maintained by periodic mowing or discing. These areas provide cover and food for animals such as wild turkeys, deer and some songbirds.

Moist soil management and cooperative farming methods are used to provide additional food for thousands of wintering waterfowl. Management practices in moist soil areas include seasonal water level manipulation and mowing. Local farmers manage cropland on a share basis, leaving 20% of their crops in fields for wildlife. These activities stimulate growth of native wetland plants and an abundance of insects, crustaceans and mollusks, which are preferred foods of waterfowl, wading birds and shorebirds.

Tensas River National Wildlife Refuge, in conjunction with federal, state, private and not-for-profit partners, is involved in plans to accelerate recovery of the threatened Louisiana black bear by reintroducing female bears and their cubs to an area that is currently unoccupied by, but historically known as black bear habitat. The ultimate goal of this project is to establish a population of bears in east central Louisiana, which would provide a connection between two existing subpopulations. Those two existing subpopulations are located in the northern part of Louisiana, on and near the Tensas River National Wildlife Refuge and in the southern part of the state, within the upper Atchafalaya Basin.

The refuge has a moderately sized wood duck nest box program. Artificial nest boxes are placed throughout the refuge along banks of lakes, moist soil areas and swales to supplement naturally-occurring cavities. Boxes are inspected and repaired in the winter and checked for nesting success in late spring. The nest box program aids the refuge in meeting its annual banding quota of 150 wood ducks.