Louisiana Set for First Black Bear Hunting Season in 2024

Ten bears comprised the quota for the limited season in the Pelican State.

Louisiana Set for First Black Bear Hunting Season in 2024

Photo: 12019

Louisiana is set to hold a black bear hunting season in December 2024 with a lottery draw for hunting tags and limited harvest in one northeast zone. The zone limit will be 10 bears and the season will end when the limit is reached.

The state has seven bear management zones. The one targeted for the hunt is Zone 4, in the northeast corner of the state. It comprises Tensas, Madison, East Carroll and West Carroll parishes, and portions of Richland, Franklin and Catahoula parishes. The season would be Dec. 7-22, 2024.

The Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Commission adopted a Notice of Intent to hold a black bear hunting season at its November 2 meeting in Baton Rouge. Immediate reaction has been mixed, with hunters excited about the possibility and also disappointed at the low harvest number.

John Hanks, Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries large carnivore program director, told Louisiana Sportsman that the number could change in future years. Some landowners and farmers in Zone 4 have had issues for years with nuisance bears. Hanks said the number, while seemingly low, was attained through research.

“We have done numerous hair snare population sample work,” he said. “There are roughly 264 females in that area. The core of that area is the Tensas National Wildlife Refuge, and it is roughly 80,000 acres. We were (sampling) the peripheral around that, and the number of bears in that area is 100. Ten is 10 percent of that. We are taking 10 based on that. The season dates are set so that more males are harvested.”

Cubs and females with cubs will not be legal to harvest. A cub is defined as any bear less than or equal to 75 pounds. According to the Notice of Intent, the number of bear harvest permits issued will be determined based on Bear Area specific population estimates and vital rate data acquired at regular intervals. WMA permits will be specified for Bayou Mason, Big Lake and Buckhorn WMAs.

Hunts will be restricted to properly licensed Louisiana residents by lottery. All successful applicants for the hunt will be required to attend a LDWF bear hunter training course. Baiting will be allowed, and hunts will be still-hunt only. 

Bears may be taken with centerfire firearms, rimfire firearms, .30-caliber or larger, and shotguns 10-gauge and smaller using slugs, all of which must load exclusively from the breech; rifles and pistols .44-caliber or larger, or shotguns 10 gauge or smaller, all of which must load exclusively from the muzzle, use blackpowder or approved substitute only. They also may be taken with legal archery gear with a minimum draw weight of no less than 30 pounds.

Public comment on the NOI will be accepted through Feb. 5, 2024, at 4 p.m. and can be submitted to LDWF Large Carnivore Program Manager John Hanks at jhanks@wlf.la.gov or by calling (318) 343-8325.


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