Black bear sightings increasing in Mississippi
Published 7:45 am Thursday, May 4, 2023
Black bears once roamed the hardwood forests of Southwest Mississippi and across the state until overhunting and habitat loss caused them to disappear from the landscape.
Mississippi has seen a recovery in the native population over the last few decades. The black bear program recorded its first breeding female in 2005.
There have been three new black bear sightings in southwest Mississippi this week: One in Amite County, one in Wilkinson County and one in Franklin County to bring the state up to 375 reports of bear sightings since 2016.
Two species of black bears reside in Mississippi the Louisiana Black Bear and the American Black Bear. MDWFP has an interactive map found on the Black Bear Program page which shows where bears have been seen.
Since 2016, one black bear has been seen in Lincoln, Amite, Lawrence and Pike Counties, six in Copiah County, eight in Adams County, 12 in Jefferson County, 13 in Franklin County, 19 in Claiborne County and 22 bears in Wilkinson County.
Black bears become more active in the summertime as they start to breed and young males are kicked out of their mom’s home range. They are shy and secretive and by nature are not predatory.
Attacks by black bears are rare and there has never been a reported attack in Mississippi on a human. However, bears are large and powerful so humans should treat them with caution and respect.
Bear sightings can be reported here to help Mississippi’s bear program in collecting data about the state bear population.