Why It Matters: Thanks to the efforts of the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF), the Louisiana black bear was delisted from the Endangered Species Act in 2016. Since then, black bear numbers have continued to climb, presenting a challenge for the state that it has not faced in decades – balancing black bear populations and minimizing human-wildlife conflict. The LDWF, and its Commission, is the entity best equipped to manage wildlife species in the state, and they recognize that hunting is an effective management tool to reduce human-wildlife conflict.
- On November 2, the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries’ Commission (Commission) voted unanimously (6-0) to approve a Notice of Intent (NOI) to establish a Louisiana black bear season in 2024.
- Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation’s (CSF) Senior Coordinator, Southeastern States Mark Lance spoke in favor of the NOI at the Commission’s meeting before the vote.
- If the hunting season is authorized, 2024 would be first time since the 1980’s that a black bear hunt has been held in the state.
At the November 2 Commission meeting, several hunting conservation organizations, including CSF, spoke in favor of the Commission approving the NOI to establish a black bear season in December of 2024. Expressing strong support for establishing a hunting season next year, CSF’s Mark Lance noted LDWF’s science-based conservation work to restore black bear habitat and manage the species in accordance with their Louisiana Black Bear Management Plan. Lance pointed to the increasing rate of bear/human conflicts and further argued that a hunting season would provide additional opportunities for Louisiana’s sportsmen and women whose conservation dollars, through the “user pays – public benefits” American System of Conservation Funding, supported LDWF’s efforts to restore the Louisiana black bear.
At the October 12 Commission meeting (where the Commission instructed LWDF staff to move forward with developing a NOI to establish a regulated and targeted black bear season), Louisiana Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus Co-Chair Senator Stewart Cathey spoke in support of the Commission’s intent to establish a black bear season, citing hunters’ contributions to conservation.
If the NOI is approved as proposed, the hunt would be by lottery and limited to Bear Management Area 4 in the Northeastern part of the state. The season would start December 7, 2024, and end on December 22, 2024. Hunts will be available to licensed Louisiana residents, and all successful lottery applicants must attend a LDWF bear hunter training course.
The NOI is open for public comment through February 5, 2024. Comments should be submitted to LDWD Large Carnivore Program Manager John Hanks at email@example.com.
CSF is thankful for the opportunity to speak before the Commission in favor of the NOI and looks forward to continuing to support the establishment of a black bear season in 2024.