BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Depending on where you live, you might not ever see a Louisiana black bear. Or it could be an everyday occurrence.
They currently roam the lower Atchafalaya (St. Mary Parish), upper Atchafalaya (Pointe Coupee Parish), and Tensas River (Madison Parish, Tensas Parish, Concordia Parish, and Avoyelles Parishes) areas of the state, according to Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF).
The LDWF estimates there are currently between 700 to 1,000 in the state of Louisiana. Between 2006 and 2008, there were an estimated 300 black bears in the 100,000 acre Tensas region of the state.
In the Upper Atchafalaya region, there were an estimated 56 bears in a 66,000-acre area between 2007 and 2009.
The Louisiana black bear (Ursus americanus luteolus) is one of 16 subspecies of the American black bear (Ursus americanus). Adult male black bears generally weigh between 300 and 400 pounds, but can weigh more than 500 pounds. Adult female black bears weigh from 120 - 200 pounds, weighing less than 300 pounds.
Wildlife biologists say black bears have a good sense of smell but have bad eyesight. Black bears are also good swimmers and can climb trees. They say black bears spend most of their time searching for food, water, cover, and mates.
Black bears are not conventional predators like mountain lions or wolves, meaning most of the meat they consume is already dead or from an opportunistic kill. Bears will gather food from tree tops and vines as well as forage for insects in fallen logs.
Unlike other bears, black bears do not actually hibernate. However, they go through a period of inactivity which helps them survive food shortages and severe weather during the winter. And, with Louisiana's warmer winters bears can remain active all year long.
The Louisiana black bear was removed the endangered species list in 2016 by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service after being placed on the list in 1992, the same year it was named the official state mammal.