Black bear comeback to be told on LPB
Catherine Siracusa, St. Mary Parish bear conflict officer
Two decades ago, the Louisiana black bear was on the brink of extinction.
Today, it is on the rebound, and the species’ resurgence is documented in the latest episode of Louisiana Public Broadcasting’s six-part wildlife series “Alive! In America’s Delta, Black Bear Comeback”.
LPB producers and photographers spent a year following Louisiana biologists on the forefront of the recovery effort, including spending time in St. Mary Parish.
The documentary premieres at 7 p.m. today on LPB-HD.
Catherine Siracusa, St. Mary Parish bear conflict officer, said on Nov. 10, 2012, the crew documented her office’s efforts with Progressive Waste to utilize bear-proof garbage cans and 4-H Junior Leaders to disseminate educational materials in doorknob bags, both in the Patterson area.
When the Louisiana Black Bear was listed as threatened in 1992 under the Endangered Species Act, there were estimated to be fewer than 300 of them left in the world. Today, innovative programs to re-establish these animals and restore their habitat through improved land management, high-tech monitoring and public education are enabling the recovery.
New studies documenting the bear population in coastal St. Mary Parish and Iberia Parish and another in Pointe Coupee Parish are nearly complete and will be a critical factor in making that decision.
Maria Davidson, the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries Large Carnivore Program manager, estimates there are now between 500 and 1,000 bears in the state, and the population is continuing to grow.
“Once that data has been interpreted, either recovery has occurred and it is a sustainable population or it hasn’t,” Davidson said. “I personally believe we have recovered the bear, and that’s what the data will show.”
The results of the U.S. Geological Survey’s study are expected in early January, and once the data is analyzed, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will determine whether the Louisiana Black Bear can be removed from the federal Endangered Species List.
The Louisiana Black Bear, a subspecies of the American Black Bear, was immortalized as the inspiration for the “teddy bear” during an infamous bear hunt by President Theodore “Teddy” Roosevelt in the Mississippi River Delta in the early 1900s.
There will be an encore showing of the first episode in the series, “Whooping Cranes Majestic Return,” immediately following the black bear episode. Both shows will re-air at 5 p.m. Sunday on LPB. Live streaming access to the programs will be available on www.lpb.org/live at 7 p.m. today and both programs will then be available online through the end of December at www.lpb.org/alive.