Wildlife & Hunting

Black Bear Program

Mississippi is actually home to two subspecies of black bears.  The American black bear (Ursus americanus americanus) is found in the northern one-third of the state and the Louisiana black bear (Ursus american luteolus) occurs in the southern two-thirds. The Louisiana black bear was recently removed from the Federally Threatened Species list however both subspecies remain classified as Endangered under Mississippi law. To the naked eye, the subspecies are indistinguishable.

The MDWFP Black Bear Program was started 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 subpopulations 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 housed 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 Main Office at (601) 432-2199.

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Additional Resources

Recent Scientific Literature on Black Bears in Mississippi