Saturday, March 18, 2006

Louisiana black bears

I just returned from a week in the field with biologists working on a program to relocate federally threatened Louisiana black bears from the Tensas National Wildife Refuge (the Singer Tract, which was the last known holdout for ivory-billed woodpeckers) in Louisiana to a Wildlife Management Area further south, Three Rivers WMA. It was a very interesting view into the project! Louisiana black bears have already started spilling over the border into Texas, and there are talks (but no plans yet) to possibly bring in bears to Texas but not without the support of the landowners. Louisiana has been very successful in that regard.

Here are a few photos from the week:

Two beautiful Louisiana Black bear cubs (Ursus americanus luteolus) before being placed back in a den box with their mama in Three Rivers WMA in Louisiana.

Biologists remove wintering females with cubs from their dens in the tops of hollowed-out ancient cypress trees (the whole tree is not hollow - just the den near the top). A climber will ascend the tree, anesthetize the mama, and use ropes to haul her down the tree and into a boat if the tree is in a slough, or into an ATV if on dry land. Because it is a warm winter, some of these bears are already active. The photo doesn't do justice to the size of the cypress tree!

The crew moving the bear from the piroe boat to the back of the ATV in the palmetto thicket, Tensas NWR.

It can take a long time to get the ropes in the right place on the tree, climb, anesthetize the bear, wait until she's gone to sleep, and haul her down. Hence the project involves a lot of waiting and standing around!

Dr. Joe Clark from USGS/University of Tennessee, and Paul Davidson, Executive Director of the Black Bear Conservation Coalition holding the paw of an adult black bear female.

Dave Telesco, BBCC Private Lands biologist, holding two cubs.

A bear cub looking wistfully from the safety of someone's boots.

The final step - mama in her new den box with her cubs, before closing the lid until she emerges permanently within a few weeks.

All photos Copyright (c) 2006 Wendee Holtcamp.


Sus said...

OHHHHHHHHHH they are soooo adorable!!! I want one!! *lol* I'm so jealous of your experience Wendee, what memories to have.

David said...

Great Pictures!