Daryl Arsement, an avid bow hunter from Sulphur, caught something on camera he says he didn’t think existed in Calcasieu Parish… black bears! Daryl was out checking cameras, doing some preseason scouting, and trimming lanes on July 15th at his deer lease near Gillis. Gillis is a small town located in central Calcasieu Parish, about 20 miles North of Lake Charles.
“I left this particular camera out last hunting season and hadn’t been back to check it since. The battery was long dead when I pulled the card today. In fact, it died 13 days after the bear picture. I checked the pictures on my phone using a card reader while I was out there and thought at first glance it was just a huge hog. I had only noticed the one to the far left. After passing the picture around to a few lease members by text we soon agreed on the conclusion that we were looking at 3 black bears. A big one on the left, a little one in the middle, and another one’s face can be seen clearly on the right. That one on the right was the one for me that positively identified them as bears.”
Arsement stated that he nor anyone else on the lease had seen any previous sign or reason to suspect that a bear, much less 3 bears where living on their property.
While Calcasieu Parish lies well within the historic range of the Louisiana black bear, sightings are extremely rare. Their primary documented breeding range is well to the east along the Mississippi and Atchafalaya Rivers and the delta to the south.
As a result of intensive work from Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries along with multiple non-profit and government organizations, Louisiana’s black bears have recovered from as few as 80 animals in an isolated corner of the state to a population today that could number as many as 1,000 healthy thriving black bears.
I know what you’re thinking. The conservation and restoration effort is a storybook and textbook display of success but hunters won’t be getting a crack at them anytime soon, says the department. They must first determine that the population is sustainable without the endangered species listing which was removed in 2016.
While these sure look like bears we won’t know for certain until LADWF biologists can do a little investigating. What do you think?
Justin Lanclos- Founder/Editor
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