Both bears were struck on U.S. 90. The first was in Patterson Sunday night. She was found Monday morning in the median of the highway. The second was a 60-pound yearling female hit by a St. Mary Parish sheriff’s deputy on patrol between Shadyside and the Centerville exit Tuesday night.
The vehicle sustained minor damage, according to Sheriff Mark Hebert.
Maria Davidson, large carnivore program manager for Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries, said necropsies on the bears were not necessary since the cause of their deaths was known. However, biologists do track the location of each bear’s death, take DNA samples and pull a tooth to determine the exact age of the bear. They also check the bear for identifying marks or a microchip to determine if it is a bear the biologists have studied previously.
Neither of the St. Mary bears had been encountered before.
“We’ve had several accidents with bears on the roadways in St. Mary Parish,” Catherine Siracusa, St. Mary black bear conflict officer, said.
Two more bears died on St. Mary roads in October, both on the western end of the parish, according to Siracusa.
An average of two to three Louisiana black bears, a threatened species, is killed on roadways in the state each month. A slight trend upward is being seen, Davidson said, because there are more bears.
“While we don’t want to see them killed on the roads, there is a definite correlation between increased road kill and increased population,” she said.
The bears are listed on the federal endangered species list as a threatened species. Davidson’s program is designed to manage the population of bears. The program does not focus on individual members killed, unless there is a questionable death.
Biologists can hopefully track the population and prove that there are enough members to have them removed from the federal endangered species list, Davidson said. Once that’s done, the bears will be exclusively state-managed, she said.