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Grizzly bears, black bears, wolves, coyotes, cougars/ mountain lions,bobcats, wolverines, lynx, foxes, fishers and martens are the suite of carnivores that originally inhabited North America after the Pleistocene extinctions. This site invites research, commentary, point/counterpoint on that suite of native animals (predator and prey) that inhabited The Americas circa 1500-at the initial point of European exploration and subsequent colonization. Landscape ecology, journal accounts of explorers and frontiersmen, genetic evaluations of museum animals, peer reviewed 20th and 21st century research on various aspects of our "Wild America" as well as subjective commentary from expert and layman alike. All of the above being revealed and discussed with the underlying goal of one day seeing our Continent rewilded.....Where big enough swaths of open space exist with connective corridors to other large forest, meadow, mountain, valley, prairie, desert and chaparral wildlands.....Thereby enabling all of our historic fauna, including man, to live in a sustainable and healthy environment. - Blogger Rick

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Thursday, November 20, 2014

According to a recent U.S. Geological Survey, the Louisiana Black Bear that had been threatened with extinction now has less than a 1% chance of blinking out over the next 100 years........Historically, The bear once roamed eastern Texas, Louisiana, southern Arkansas and western Mississippi.............It was found that the estimated 350-500 Bears are intermingling among the four geographically separated populations in the state and this helped in researchers concluding that there was less than a 1% chance that all 4 groups of bears would simultaneously would face a calamity causing extinction..............Cannot help wonder if it is premature to come to this conclusion with at most 500 recovering Bears..............Tiny NJ has some 2000 Bruins..............Perhaps that is more the number researchers should be striving to see on the goround before calling for Delisting from the Federal Threatened list

USGS Study Looks at Louisiana Black Bear Population - - KTVE NBC 10 -

USGS Study Looks at Louisiana Black Bear Population

The threatened Louisiana black bear,
one of 18 subspecies of black bear in
 North America, has less than a 1 percent
 chance of going extinct in the next 100

The bear species nicknamed “teddy”
 more than a century ago that inspired
 the iconic stuffed toy still popular today
will likely survive at least another century,
 according to a new U.S. Geological
Survey study.
The threatened Louisiana black bear,
 one of 18 subspecies of black bear in
 North America, has less than a 1
percent chance of going extinct in
the next 100 years.  The bear was
once found throughout Louisiana,
eastern Texas, southern Arkansas
 and western Mississippi. Habitat
loss and overhunting has since
reduced and fragmented the
 population resulting in its listing
 as threatened under the
Endangered Species Act in 1992.

The species was nicknamed the
 “teddy bear” in 1902 when
 President Theodore “Teddy”
Roosevelt famously refused
to shoot a tethered bear while
on a hunting trip.
To determine the viability of
the bear population today,
research funded primarily
by the Louisiana Department
of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF)
 used projections of population
growth over time based on
capture and radio-telemetry
 data to estimate the bear’s
extinction probability.

In some instances, scientists
captured and
released the bears to obtain
the data. At other times, they
 collected DNA extracted from
hair samples to identify
individual bears. The study
also used genetics and
capture data to evaluate
 how frequently individual
bears move between the
fragmented subpopulations
of Louisiana black bear in
 the Lower Mississippi
Alluvial Valley.

Connectivity among subpopulations
of a species is important to help
avoid genetic problems resulting
 from too much inbreeding.
These findings address goals
created in 1995 by the U.S. Fish
 and Wildlife Service for recovery.
“Estimates of a species’ viability
can help wildlife managers determine
 the status of threatened, endangered
 or at-risk species and guide effective
management efforts,” said Joseph
 Clark, the USGS research ecologist
 who led the study in collaboration
with Jared Laufenberg from the
University of Tennessee. “This
 study will be used by the U.S.
Fish and Wildlife Service to
determine whether to pursue
removing the bear from the
 ‘threatened’ species list.”
Researchers collected data with
DNA sampling, live capture,
winter den visits and monitoring
of radio-collared animals from
2002 to 2014. To collect the
 DNA samples, researchers set
 up barbed wire fences that bears
 had to cross to obtain pastry baits.
This method, which does not harm
 the bears, results in the bears
 leaving their DNA in the form of
 hair samples on the barbs, which
 scientists are able to use to identify
 the individual identities of each
 bear visiting the site.
“The completion of this project
 represents many years of
 collaborative work and we’re excited
 about the results,” said Maria
 Davidson, Louisiana Department
of Wildlife and Fisheries biologist
program manager.  “The information
provided by this project is based on
 the best available science, enabling
us to make management decisions
 focused on the long term
sustainability of the Louisiana
black bear.”
Bears in Louisiana primarily exist in
 four distinct subpopulations, and
data were sufficient for researchers
to perform viability analyses on
three of them. The probability of
these bears not going extinct ranged
 from 29.5 percent to greater than 99
 percent, depending on the
subpopulation and the assumptions
upon which the models were based. 
 However, the chances that all of the
 subpopulations will simultaneously
go extinct, based on the most c
onservative models, were only
 0.4 percent. The researchers also
 found that individual bears were
moving among some subpopulations.
Since originally being listed as
threatened in 1992, the Louisiana
black bear population has grown
and the habitat has recovered to
 the extent that the U.S. Fish and
Wildlife Service is considering
 “delisting,” or removing the bear
from the threatened species list.
This population growth is because
of state and federal protection of
the bears, a reintroduction project
 and habitat recovery aided by the
 Federal Conservation Reserve
Program and the Federal Wetlands
 Reserve Program.
The study was completed in
 cooperation with Louisiana
 Department of Wildlife and
Fisheries, U.S. Fish and Wildlife
Service, University of Tennessee
and Louisiana State University,
among others. The full study
-- Population Viability and
Connectivity of the Louisiana
Black Bear (Ursus americanus
 luteolus) -- is available online

Researchers find

 Louisiana black

 bear populations are intermingling

black bear
The swamps and woodlots of Louisiana
are home to a growing population of
black bears because distinct populations
 are beginning to intermingle.
(File photo) (File photo)

  By Todd Masson, |
 The Times-Picayune The Times-Picayune
Email the author | Follow on Twitter
on August 12, 2014 at 3:22 PM,
updated August 12, 2014 at 3:25 PM 

Louisiana's black bears are making
huge strides toward recovery as the
 state's disparate populations appear
 to be intermingling, according to two
researchers who presented their
 findings Tuesday at a public meeting
 in Baton Rouge. Jared Laufenberg
 and Joseph Clark said efforts to
restore bear habitat, particularly
in the state's delta region, has paid
big dividends for the health of the
 population. Laufenberg studied
Louisiana's once-threatened bear
population as part of his University
 of Tennessee doctoral dissertation.

Louisiana black bears once ranged
 throughout the Bayou State and
into South Mississippi and East
Texas, but by the 1950s, the
distribution was profoundly
 reduced due to conversion of
 hardwood forests to croplands.
The population dwindled to only
80 to 120 bears remaining in a
tiny slice of the forested delta.
State biologists in the 1960s
 brought 161 bears down from
 Minnesota as part of a restocking
program, and by the 1990s,
 populations had become
established in the Tensas River
 Basin, the upper Atchafalaya
River Basin and the Lower
Atchafalaya Basin.

To help the population recover
further, officials enrolled Louisiana
 black bears in the Endangered Species
 Act program in 1992, and published
 a recovery plan in 1995. The three
recovery criteria were that there
 needed to be at least two viable
 populations, there had to be
movement corridors between
 them and the habitat needed
to be protected.

According to the information
 presented by Laufenberg and
 Clark, each of the goals appears
 to have been met.
"What is clear is that Louisiana
black bears are in much better
 condition than 22 years ago
 when they were listed," Clark
told the crowd attending the

One of the many reasons is
that state biologists from 2001
through 2009 transferred some
of the bears from the established
Tensas River Basin population to
 the Three Rivers area to seed a
"stepping-stone" population
between the Tensas population
 and another distinct group of
bears in the Upper Atchafalaya Basin.

The plan has worked well, Clark
explained. Bears have gotten
 well-established in the Three
Rivers area, and the females have
 begun to intermingle with males
from the Upper Atchafalaya Basin
 population. In general, female
black bears disperse very little,
 while males roam great distances
 looking for mates. This trait has
evolved to reduce inbreeding
 in bear populations, Clark said.
Because of the stepping-stone
 population in the Three Rivers
 area, the genes of the Upper
Atchafalaya Basin bears have
been found all the way up in
the Tensas River population,
 Clark said.

"Without that Three Rivers
population, I doubt we would
 have had any interchange
between Upper Atchafalaya
 Basin and Tensas River
Basin (bears)," he said.
Although males from the
Atchafalaya Basin population
 are migrating up to Three Rivers,
none from that area seem to be
 moving down to the Atchafalaya
 Basin, and the researchers are
baffled as to why.

One possibility, Clark said, is
that the bears are finding natural
 funnels moving in one direction
 but not the other.
Once the males get to the Three
Rivers area, they're finding easy
pickings. The area is dominated
 by females because that's mostly
 what biologists transferred there.
"The Three Rivers area was
stocked with females that were
 producing cubs in the Tensas River
 Basin," Laufenberg said. "That's
 not a bad thing. If you're going to
stock a place, why not stock it
with good numbers of females
 who are producing cubs?"
Those migrating males are doing
 a good job spreading their genes
 among the populations. Of 35
cubs recently tested in the area
, 20 were sired by males that had
come from the Upper Atchafalaya
 Basin population, Clark said.

The state's population has just
 completed its breeding season,
 which is in June and July,
Laufenberg said, and the
females will give birth in
January or February while
they are denned up for the

Although there is no official
estimate for the size of the
black-bear population
throughout Louisiana, Clark
 and Laufenberg gave a rough
 guess of between 258 and 283
 females combined in the Tensas,
Upper Atchafalaya and Lower
Atchafalaya populations.

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