Local Professor Discusses Impact of Black Bear's Killing

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Meridian, Miss. A local biology professor says the death of a Louisiana Black Bear could have lasting consequences.

Doctor Jarrod Fogarty teaches biology at Mississippi State University Meridian. He says the killing of a black bear in Lauderdale County in January of this year is very unfortunate for the black bear population because a loss of just one bear impacts the genetic diversity of the black bear population. It's estimated there are only a little more than 100 Louisiana Black Bear in Mississippi.

"That is just, just unnecessary," Fogarty feels. "And again, just unfortunate that somebody made that decision."

Fogarty says by taking one breeding individual out of the population, it would be like subtracting five percent of the genetic diversity. He says one good thing is that the black bear can travel long distances, which can help males and females to find each other.

"But the best thing to do is to get information out there to inform people that black bear are not a danger," Fogarty points out. "They are not a top predator in Mississippi that would even consider going after something as large as a human."

Fogarty says the black bear consumes vegetable matter and not humans. He says the Louisiana Black Bear is a federally threatened species, which is a step below being federally endangered.

"We have tracking collars on these animals, which is something people need to consider," Fogarty adds. "If they think they may shoot a black bear, they need to consider a lot of them in the state have tracking collars on them."

Travis Butler, 28, of Meridian, Chester Brad Williams, 49, of Meridian, and David Lucas Wimberly, 34, of Quitman, were indicted by a federal grand jury in connection with a Jan. 4, 2014, incident.