Black Bear Program
Mississippi is home to two subspecies of black bears. The American black bear (Ursus americanus) is found in the northern one-third of the state and the Louisiana black bear (Ursus americanus luteolus) occurs in the southern two-thirds. The Louisiana black bear (recently removed from the Federally Threatened Species list), as well as the American black bear, are both classified as Endangered under Mississippi law. The two subspecies vary only in skull morphology and genetic makeup; to the naked eye, they are indistinguishable.
The MDWFP Black Bear Program began in June of 2002 at the Mississippi Museum of Natural Science. The initial focus of the program was to conduct research on Mississippi black bears in an effort to learn more about this endangered species. At the time of the program's inception, it was estimated that there were less than 50 bears residing in the state. Today, estimates of our bear population have more than tripled. This population increase is due primarily to the recent appearance of female bears in our state, which has led to the births of numerous cubs in the last several years, something not documented in Mississippi in the previous 40 years. There are currently three breeding sub-populations of black bears in Mississippi. Additionally, general sightings of bears have increased dramatically all over the state, likely due to dispersing bears from populations in neighboring states. The Black Bear Program is now within the Wildlife Bureau of the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks and continues to conduct research and educate the people of Mississippi about our black bears. Another primary objective of the program is the prevention of conflicts between bears and people.
If you are experiencing problems involving black bears or want to report a recent bear sighting, please contact MDWFP at (601) 432-2199.
BearWise.org is a regional program based in the southeastern U.S. that shares ways to prevent conflicts, provides resources to resolve problems, and encourages community initiatives to keep bears wild. BearWise is supported by the 15 member-state Southeastern Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (SEAFWA), and was developed by members of the Large Carnivore Working Group of SEAFWA's Wildlife Resources Committee.
- History of Bears in Mississippi
- Mississippi Black Bear Ecology
- Living with Black Bears - Human / Wildlife Conflict
- Mississippi Bear Education and Restoration Group
- Black Bear Conservation Coalition
- International Bear Association
- Appalachian Black Bear Rescue and Rehabilitation
- MSU Mississippi Bear Project
- Denning Chronology and Den Characteristics of American Black Bears in Mississippi
- History and Status of the American Black Bear in Mississippi
- Influence of Landscape Attributes on American Black Bear Den-Site Selection in Mississippi