By JANET McCONNAUGHEY
NEW ORLEANS (AP) - Two new studies indicate that Louisiana black bears are gradually becoming more numerous, with the three main populations totaling about 500.
Whether they can survive without federal protection is the topic of a third, incomplete study.
The studies are being presented at public meetings Monday in Pointe Coupee Parish and Tuesday in Morgan City.
University of Tennessee graduate students estimated the numbers in two parts of the Atchafalaya Basin through DNA analysis of hair snagged in barbed wire. Their adviser, Joe Clark, says he believes there are about 130 in the coastal area and 60 to 70 in the upper Atchafalaya.
Harold Schoeffler filed the lawsuit that got the bears listed as threatened. He says they're on the way to recovery but probably still have a long way to go.
Sierra Club Acadiana Group: http://acadiansierra.blogspot.com/p/contact-us.html
Black Bear Conservation Coalition: http://www.bbcc.org/