|Photo By Paul Davidson|
A federal complaint filed Friday in the U.S. District Court in Natchez charges Ryan C. Murphy with killing the federally protected species near Mayersville on November 16.
Louisiana black bears are protected under the Federal Endangered Species Act. Brad Young is the executive director of the MS Wildlife Federation and previously led the Black Bear Program with the MS Department of Wildlife and Fisheries.
"The ones in Sharkey, Issaquena and Warren counties are protected," he said.
Mayersville is about 10 miles west of Rolling Fork, near the MS River.
Federal authorities are seeking the forfeiture of a bow.
Young said Louisiana black bears are slightly different from the American black bear that inhabits north Mississippi, Tennessee, Arkansas and the Appalachian region.
"It's done by county," he said.
"There's kind of a dividing line at (Mississippi) Highway 82."
In 2002, the MDWFP created the Black Bear Program to boost the species' number in the state. In 10 years, the number of Louisiana black bears in the state went from fewer than 50 to about 150 today.
The MDWFP website points to an increase in female black bears, which has led to the births of dozens of cubs in the last 10 years. Before the program began, a black bear birth had not been documented in Mississippi since the early 1960s.
"It's definitely grown," Young said. "We have certainly seen the bear population, especially in Sharkey and Issaquena county, grown. We see cubs being born every year and we're seeing reproduction, something we had not seen before."
Young said restoring the black bear population to earlier levels will take decades.
"We still have a long ways to go," he said. "It's not like deer or wild hogs. It's very slow increase."