Bear now part of Mississippi research

Published 8:33 pm Wednesday, December 13, 2023

A black bear in Jefferson County is now contributing to the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks research efforts. Anthony Ballard Jr, Bear Program Coordinator, said the bear was collared in early December.

Black bears are a native species to Mississippi and are starting to make a rebound in numbers. Unregulated over harvest, deforestation and habitat fragmentation hurt the black bear numbers in the early 1900s. Conservation efforts made progress in restoring the bear population as evidenced by the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries working to create the first modern black bear hunting season. It is a similar population trajectory that quail, deer, and turkeys have taken in Mississippi in the past 100 years.

Ballard said the female bear collared in Jefferson County was originally collared in Tensas Parish. He swapped the ear tags and collar to MDWFP equipment so Louisiana could get data it needs from the collar and get another female bear on air and contribute to research.

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Ballard said the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries estimated the bear to be between seven and nine years old in 2020 and he estimated her age to be 10 to 12 years old.

“We have two bears we know about that came from Louisiana. It is not uncommon for bears to come here,” Ballard said. “We knew about this bear and tried to catch up with her last den check season. A guy contacted me and said that she was in the area, and we set a trap. We played cat and mouse for three weeks before trapping her. The Louisiana collar was close to dying.”

Ballard said the collar and its valuable research data was sent to LDWF and now the bear is collecting data for Mississippi to aid in answering a few research questions.